The last weeks have been a rich flurry of settling into our home in Dar es Salaam and preparing for the students’ arrival. Donna has been homeschooling Isaac and Mara, while Ryan has been meeting host families, visiting potential lecturers, and arranging a multitude of logistics. It feels good to be back in East Africa, awaking to roosters, receiving the warm, daily greetings of friends on the street, and embracing the richness of life here.
Our home is in Mikocheni B, a suburb of Dar es Salaam. We have enjoyed getting to know our neighbors, buying fresh mangoes and vegetables at the local market, and watching an occasional soccer match at the local schoolyard field.
We have taken several trips to explore sites for student trips, including Zanzibar and Bagamoyo. We will visit Bagamoyo with the students in several weeks and Zanzibar at the end of the semester.
Our children, Isaac and Mara, were both born in Kenya and this is their first return to Africa since their adoption. It has been very rewarding to see them process the new sights and sounds, practice Swahili, and make friends in our community.
The program in Tanzania this year has benefited greatly from assistance from the Tanzania Mennonite Church in both Dar es Salaam and in the Mara region, the sites for the students’ service. In Dar, we’ll be having daily Kiswahili class at the Upanga Mennonite Church, which is located downtown. One of the leaders of the youth at Upanga, Mussa Masanja, serves as the SST Study Term Local Coordinator and has helped make arrangements for many church members to volunteer as host families. Our family has been fully welcomed by the church and we’ve enjoyed some lively church services over the holidays.
We are eagerly awaiting the students’ arrival and are honored to have this time with them learning more about Tanzania, one another, and exploring how to improve our world.
Salaam – Ryan, Donna, Mara, & Isaac