The third term of the school year started on Monday this week! Meaning that all boarding students were required to report back to school on Sunday afternoon. I spent Sunday driving all over Arusha (and surrounding areas) to pick up over 50 children and drop them off at Usa River Academy and Fikiria Kwanza. There are some guardians who look after the kids during break that are able to transport them back to school, like Mama Pendo from Nkoaranga Orphanage, which was a huge help!
I completely underestimated the task at hand when I began my day on Sunday. I realized that there are two very important parts to picking up a child - first locating the child and secondly finding their trunk of belongings (shoes, clothes, school uniforms, ect). I quickly learned that just because a child is at a certain location does not mean that their heavy, metal 4’ x 2’ truck is there also. So it was a great adventure with my limited Kiswahili knowledge to figure out with the guardians exactly where all of their things were. Some pick-ups were less chaotic than others, with the children all packed and ready to go as I pulled up. Mama Mike was a star, managing to get all 11 scholarship kids from her village waiting together on her porch with all of their things. I made other stops at Good Hope Orphanage, Patandi Village at Baba Juma's, Arusha Bus Stop, Matanyok, Tacoda Boy's Home, and Mama Nora's Orphanage in Makumira. In the end, after a lot of broken Kiswahili and hand gesturing, a few personal escorts in the car, and lots of radio sing-a-longs, all of our scholarship children (and their trunks) arrived safely at their school ready to take on third term.
Over the holiday, I had only seen a few of our scholarship students so it was wonderful to see all of their bright, smiling faces on Sunday. With each drop-off, I was able to witness the scene of each child’s arrival to FK and URA. The whole day seemed like a waiting game for the children, waiting to get to school, once they got there, more waiting for the arrivals of the other students not there yet. Anticipation was building with each passing minute they were patiently waiting so with the progressive arrivals throughout the day, the excitement and energy of the welcome scene only grew. The air was filled with hoots, hollers, shrieks, and shrills from the students upon seeing each other. It was a race to see would be first to embrace or give a high five, sometimes even tackling each other. I loved listening to their little mouths barking Kiswahili at each other, there’s just something so endearing about listening to a child’s voice, especially speaking a foreign language.
My heart melted over and over with this “welcome back” scene each time I brought a group of kids back to school. In previous months, I had noticed and recognized the bonds and friendships the TFFT students have made with each other but it was only made even more evident to me on Sunday. The genuine excitement, pure joy and happiness that exuded from their little bodies was really something special – their family was all back together again.