We left Shirati on Thursday morning for the 90 minute drive to Tarime town where Seth Miller and Rachel Smucker are serving. Tarime is a larger town about 20 minutes from the border of Kenya. Seth has been teaching at Samaritan Technical Secondary School and Rachel has been working with the Tanzania Mennonite Church Tarime Diocese to help churches develop business plans for profit-making projects.
Upon entering Tarime we met Seth, Rachel, and Peter Rosso (the SST Service Coordinator) in town at the local bank. Rachel helped us navigate the landrover to her home on the outskirts of town, where we met her father and family for breakfast. Her host father, Pastor Monanka is the acting Director of the KMT Tarime Diocese and was a host parent for the trip in 2011. We had a scrumptious breakfast of sweet potatoes (from his farm), chapatis, bananas, watermelon, and tea.
After breakfast we got a tour of the shamba (farm) surrounding the house where the family grows sugarcane, tomatoes, corn, bananas, cassava and trees for timber harvest. What a peaceful setting. After breakfast we drove back to town to pay a visit to the KMT Diocese office and signed their guest book. Pastor Monanka explained some of the new projects originating at the KMT Diocese.
A short drive further into town, we found Samaritan Tech. Secondary School, where Seth is teaching history to secondary school students. The school is a private school serving about 230 students and run by the Lutheran church. In addition to teaching the typical subjects, the school offers technical training in engineering, wood-working and welding among other disciplines. Seth teaches several periods each day, four days a week. He has been enjoying teaching and his principal and head teacher wish he could stay! After our visit to the school we walked across the street to the teacher housing to visit Seth’s home. He is staying with one of the language teachers at the school in school-provided housing. We learned he and his housemate, Zedekiah, enjoy watching football and cooking – Seth is presumably learning to cook ugali!
Rachel has been doing some work at the school too, teaching English lessons when she is able. Her main service work is to assist the KMT Diocese in helping local churches develop additional sources of revenue through initiating small business ventures. Her work is mainly on the weekends during which she travels to a nearby church on Saturday and spends the day with parishioners helping them develop and refine a business plan. In the morning she provides a workshop outlining basic business principles applicable to their circumstance, including identifying their assets, liabilities, debt obligations, market identification, etc. After lunch together, she helps them develop a business plan to achieve their goals. She has already worked with 2 different churches whose women’s groups intend to grow tomatoes for sale in the market as a means of increasing the church’s income. The next two weekends she and her team will visit two additional churches. In the afternoon we spent a few hours catching up over lunch and sodas at a local hotel in town.
The students shared how much they like Tarime town and getting to know the pulse of life in a smaller, rural city. They are able to walk everywhere – a stark contrast to the long daladala rides in Dar es Salaam! In the evening we drove back to Rachel’s house for dinner – a feast indeed! We devoured sugarcane cubes as appetizers before a dinner of ugali, chicken, cooked bananas, fish, and fruit. Pastor Monanka and his family pulled out all the stops!
We left Tarime again struck with how the students have successfully carved out a niche for themselves. Additionally, we are so thankful for how their host families and the community has warmly welcomed them and offered such amazing care.
On Monday we will visit Kelsey and Anneliese in Musoma and then drive to Tarime Mogoto (a town near Nyarero and Mogabiri) for our last safari to see Seth Yoder!
– Ryan for the team