Monday, November 24, 2008


Simon is our night guard – our Maasai night guard, who comes to work each evening with his machete and his spear. He has a warm bright smile and sparkly eyes. He’s short – small – and dresses with a blend of traditional Maasai and western clothes. One of the first times we saw him, he was wearing the traditional Maasai purple/red plaid blanket. Yesterday, he had on a flowered button-up shirt with green and red marching-band pants. While we have quiet evenings, while we sleep, Simon hums and studies – Swahili children’s books and English lessons. When we wake up, he is gone.

It feels uncomfortable – strange – to have a guard. But, both Eric and I really like Simon. And we want him to like us, despite our language barrier. We want to be able to talk with him, to learn about his life, to hear what he thinks of things. But for now, we’ll enjoy our brief interactions, his many handshakes, his quick laughter. For now, we’ll enjoy having a Masaii night guard with a spear named Simon.

Mr. Mhamba
Mr. Ezekiel Mhamba works at BCDSA as their project coordinator. He is in his seventies and has already retired a few times – but keeps coming back to work. He is currently working for BCDSA as a volunteer (as are all the staff) until there is money to pay him a salary. He has been married to his wife Deborah for 51 years, and they are very proud of their nine children and many grandchildren. Mr. Mhamba is warm and kind and earnest and absolutely beautiful.

He’s had a full and interesting life. He was a middle school teacher for many years. He was part of the first independent government of Tanzania in the 60’s, and traveled to Romania with his work back then. He went back to school mid-career to study the Bible, and received a scholarship to study at a Bible college in the UK. He worked for churches in Tanzania, organizing social programs on their behalf. He retired. He worked for an NGO that was connected to his church. He retired. He came to work for BCDSA.

Mr. Mhamba speaks English fluently and is often my translator at BCDSA activities. I love having him in the seat next to me, summarizing the goings-on. I love hearing my words communicated is his warm, melodic Swahili. I love having the opportunity to know and work together with Mr. Mhamba.

Mama Nyananze
In Kiswahili, you use generic mother, father, brother, sister words to greet anyone of that general age range. So, anyone in a mother (or grandmother) age range should respectfully be addressed as “Mama”. It’s VERY handy when you just can’t quite remember someone’s name.

There is a produce market that is a 15-minute walk from our house. Around the market, there’s a string of various shops/stores – everything from a barber to a fix-it guy to a little corner shop. In the mix, is a little cafe that has quickly become our favorite place to have lunch. It’s a small room with two long tables and a bench along the wall that is run by a warm, chatty Mama wearing a bright dress and christmas apron. For 80 cents, you can get the biggest plate of rice & beans that I’ve ever seen – deliciously prepared by the cafe Mama. And for just 40 more cents you can have a Pepsi to drink. A perfect lunch and a beautiful cafe Mama.

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