Before leaving for our journey to Africa I had mixed feelings; nervous, excited, scared. I didn’t know what to expect once entering the village, or how our interactions with the villagers would be. Our drive was interesting the first couple of days. We saw people on the side of the road almost every 50 feet. We would all wave and smile as we passed. The first couple of days the villagers would give us these blank looks. It seemed like they were wondering who we were and why we were there. It was hard to tell if they welcomed us to their village, but now, after we have been here for a week, the villagers are more familiar with our faces and cars so they wave and smile back. This made me happy to see us more accepted.
The first couple of days consisted of a lot of canal rehabilitation work and while that interesting to see, I was ready to get in the village and interact with the people. Thursday was a one of my favorite day because we were able to go to the kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools. Our first stop was the secondary school where we were introduced and able to give them a small gift of some soccer balls, basketballs, and volleyballs. Then we went to the kindergarten. I have a strong love for young children and was very excited to be able to visit them. Not only was it awesome to see the kindergarten building that Valpo SALT helped build, but it was very enjoyable to be able to interact with the children. We also brought them some assorted balls as well as candy. It amazed me that such small items would light up their faces and seeing the children smile also made me very happy. Also, I loved seeing how their school and classroom was set up–one room, one chalkboard and 78 children. After the kindergarten, we headed over to the primary school where about 200 children greeted us. They were all lined up and began singing right as we arrived. It was a great welcome, that I thoroughly enjoyed. After, we gave them the last of the balls that we brought. Luckily, we had some extra time to spend at the school and were able juggle the soccer ball with some villagers. Obviously I enjoyed this very much!
Friday and Saturday were also very enjoyable days for our team. We were able to walk through the village and converse with different families. We divided our time in the central and southern hamlets. On Friday, we went to the southern hamlet and talked to some families. The first house we went to was Alfred’s. Alfred is one of our interpreters that we have grown close to since day one. On his land he had three houses. One was his own house, one was his son’s house, and one was his old house that his father now lives in. A highlight of my trip was when Alfred showed us his old home and introduced us to his father. Alfred takes care of his 95-year-old father every day. He wanted us to see that he is able to get up with Alfred’s help. Seeing them smile together was a precious and loving moment. On Saturday we went to the central hamlet. We were able to meet other families and see their homes as well. Each home in Masaera has somewhat the same set up. Their home or homes, an outdoor kitchen, a stable to keep their animals, a latrine and their crops. The majority of their land is crops. The crops vary throughout the village. My favorite crop I have seen so far are avocado trees!
I have enjoyed getting to know members of the Masaera community. I look forward to the rest of our trip, especially our soccer match against the village today J Shoutout to all my family and friends, I miss and love you all!