Monday, June 13, 2016

Our First Full Day in Tanzania

Our two drivers, Hassan and Engelbert, picked us up at the hostel and drove us to Sinya, a large area where the Maasai live. As we entered the “reserve,” we had to sign in at an A.I.D.-built structure. Apparently, only Maasai can own property in Sinya, which means the safari lodge where we met Gloria Upchurch and Rachael Fitzpatrick is Maasai owned and run. Gloria is the co-founder of the Olmoti Clinic and Rachael has raised much of the money for the Girls’ Vocational School in Lake Eyasi. Gloria provided us with lunch at the lodge, a gorgeous set of grass-roofed structures set to overlook Sinya, and there, we had a chance to talk a bit about the video for the clinic. Then we started out for the clinic.  On the way, we saw giraffes – a herd of about six or seven – and later, a couple of zebras. And one of the drivers spotted a bird caught in a spider web. The spider was about 1 ½” long – still spinning – and Engelbert pulled the bird out of the web and released it. 
L to R: Gloria Upchurch, Rachael Fitzpatrick, Jumana Zahid & Brian Favorite at the safari lodge.

When we arrived at the clinic, we were greeted by a group of about fifty Maasai women and children, who walked down the road toward us, dancing and singing. It was amazing!
Maasai women greet the Land Rover.

The Olmoti Clinic is perched on a hill, overlooking Sinya, with Mt. Kilimanjaro on one side and a valley on the other. Close to it is the primary school being built by the other co-founder of the clinic, Diane Raleigh, who visited our spring class.  Jumana Zahid, the producer for the clinic video, had a chance to talk with the doctor, the midwife, and the tech person, and we all got a general idea of the clinic.

The day ended at the place where we are staying, a structure with single rooms built around a courtyard. We were told it was a hospital – and it may have been that, or the original convent. Each room has a bathroom. The rooms are spartan, but are what we need – clean and safe – and we will be eating our breakfast and dinner here each day. From our lodging, we have a clear view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and when we arrived, the clouds were gone so we could actually see the mountain – awe-inspiring!
Mt. Kilimanjaro from our hostel.

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