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Parker in Africa

Home > Parker in Africa > September 2, 2006

Parker in Africa - September 2, 2006

Dear friends and family,

Sorry, I have been dreadful at writing and keeping in touch these past months. I have no real excuse. Anyways, I'm still in Africa. Actually, I will still be here for about another 3 months. Time is certainly running away, but three months can also be a lifetime, in the sense that many of the 'Mzungu' volunteers, meaning white volunteers, or tourists come here for three months or less and Africa changes their whole lives. Maybe y whole life is yet to change-we'll see where my story leads.

For the time being, no life-changing events have occurred in the recent months. Most of the people I befriended have returned to Europe or the US, so I spend most of y time at school or in the village with my students.

You might ask-how can I handle this situation still? I spend every day mostly alone-at least in my thoughts and ideas, if not in my activities. I wake up in time for morning devotion-most of which I still don't understand- thinking about whatever as the preacher pumps religion into these childrens' minds, or I make excuses for myself to stay in my bed and make instant coffee for myself and watch a little of the international news. Then to work- from 8-3pm. I love being in the classroom sharing in my student's eagerness to learn. But it is hard work. I am a full-time teacher, and I think it would seem more tolerable if I was being compensated for my work. My only 'payment' is my students appreciation, but most of them just think its my job-don't understand what 'volunteer' means. Oh well-I know when I look back in a few years time I will consider what I gained from this better than any payment. After I eat lunch-Rice and beans every day- the afternoon is in to spend as I like. Actually, all that means is that I can either keep working, go home to sleep or read or watch religious television or go play soccer with my boys. Then I come home to wash my clothes which takes about and hour and a half. Štake a warm bucket of water to wash myself-go up to eat and then go back to working and reading until 10pm. At this time the students go to bed and I stay up to watch this horrible soap opera- 'Secreto de Amor' It's a show made in Miami about 15 years ago which was originally in Spanish and recently translated into English for people all over Tanzania to obsess over. And I'm addicted to it. Then I sleep. I'll be honest-I am happy, content even- but not completely satisfied with my life here. I have realized that there are things from the U.S.-especially the Western U.S. that make me feel as if my life is full and that I can reach my potential. It might sound strange, but I feel guilty for admitting that. I almost feel as if I am supposed to feel more than complete living here in Africa-but there is just something missing. So, again, why am I still somewhat content and not going out of my mind here? It's simply because of my students- and of course the sisters.

My students make me feel like I belong here, and help e forget even that I am white. They make me feel loved and wanted-smart and beautiful. I now know almost all of them by name and I am simply delighted when I see their personalities unveil. I can end every day with a smile if I have played football with the young freshman boys-all squeaking as they are all going through puberty, passing the ball up the field most with bare-feet (literally up-the fields on a hill) or listening to a form III talk about how she will make her dreams of becoming a doctor come true. They are who I will always remember from Africa- Caroline, Neema, Meckson, Samwell, Baraka, Ombeni. . .they make it worth it. I am ready to start living 'my' life again, but when I leave Agape there will certainly be a hole in my heart. Many of y students ask when I'm coming back to live in TZ. I don't know if I'll ever live here again but at least I can tell them that my life is better because of this place.

I have done other things since I last wrote, but those things that once seemed fantastic now seem normal and I can find no inspiration to write to you all about it. Just know that I am well and happy and the ways of Africa are treating me good. I hope the beauty of this place calls you sometime-The mountain has been looking so beautiful lately. In the meantime-live fully and enjoy the end of your summer. Enjoy where you are! I miss you all most dearly.