Muda Mrefu

Waiting on my family

I’m at Kilimanjaro International Airport waiting for my sister and her family to come in on the very delayed Ethiopian Airlines flight. I am very excited to share our life here in Tanzania with my family. My mother visits often, and lived here for many years, so it does not have the same effect when she visits. My niece though…her eyes should pop out if her head. That is iif the plane lands any time soon.


December 23, 2009 Posted by | Arusha | 4 Comments

Trevor’s last term in Standard 7.

Trevor is Rose’s 13 year old son.  Rose is the lady who has taken care of Sofia since Samantha went back to work after her maternity leave.  We have been able to get to know Trevor quite well.  He is a very sweet boy, extremely bright, and like all the Tanzanian children that we have met, has a deep sense of respect for his elders.

The school system in Tanzania works in a way that for us might seem very counter-intuitive.  A family will pay for their child’s education (if they want the child in school) until the child reaches Standard 7.  Relatively speaking, this can be very expensive for an average Tanzanian to send their child to school. At the end of Standard 7 all of the children take an exam.  The most successful candidates are then offered places in the government schools that are much cheaper than any other schools.  So the more successful you are, the cheaper it gets.  The more you struggle,  the more it will cost your family to stay in school.

Trevor in about to start his last term in Standard 7. He goes to a good school here in Arusha, and is doing very well. Samantha and I, along with some members of our family, have payed for his Standard 7 year so far.  We are quite willing and excited to do it again, but so many people wrote to me about Noel’s windows saying that they never got a chance to contribute, that I thought we should try again.  So here we are.  We need to raise the fees for Trevor’s last term in Standard 7.  At the end of the year I am sure that he will do very well in his exams, and then Rose will be on easy street as far as school fees go.

So we need to raise is $300.  I would suggest that a $10 donation is great.  If you want to give more, give more.  If you want to give less, give less.  Once we have the money I will post again and let you know.  I have another great project in mind anyway, so watch out for that as well.  Thanks for helping out.

(This button is for Noel’s windows, but it works!)

Trevor, Rose and SofiaTrevor, Rose and Sofia

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

Our saw-toothed cactus finally flowers!

After almost 2 years this succulent began to flower. At night the flowers open right up and are so beautiful.

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

A Wedding in Ilboru


These weddings blare by our gate every week end, sometimes four or five each day!

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

Writing again?

I have not managed to write since August, since it took less that 24 hours to raise the money for Noel’s windows.  I guess starting a new school year, teaching a new age group, raising a baby, fighting intestinal bugs, going to the bush a couple of times, all that takes time!  It certainly leaves little time to tap away at the computer.

The short rains are late, and so everything is covered in dust.  Our house is at a fork in the Ilboru road, so we are flanked on two sides by dirt roads, and every time a car, Land Rover, or 7 ton Isuzu lorry rumbles by, clouds of dust (as fine as flour) are raised high in the air.  We, along with everyong else who lives on this road, are praying for the vuli, the short rains, to come soon.  Apparently it has been pouring in Nairobi.  We’ll see.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | 1 Comment

We have the money!

It took just a couple of days for us to gather the money for Noel’s windows.  We even have some money left over for drapes!  When things get moving on the actual installation of the glass (this is Africa…), we’ll post some new pictures of Noel’s house.  

Please hold off on any more donations for now.  We have do a new project in mind, so stay tuned!


Thanks again.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

Buy a window for Noel’s house.

Our night watchman Noel has been building a house for his family. It has taken him 5 years so far, and he is nearing the final stages. All he needs is the glass for the windows. Samantha and I went to visit him at his old house, which is right next to his new house. It is a 10 minute walk from our house, through the shambas and banana groves on the side of the mountain. His new house is impressive. It has three bedrooms, is made completely out of cement, and when it is ready will be very comfortable. A dream for Noel and his family. Noel estimated that he can get the money together for the glass (about $450) in two years if there is no bad luck (funerals to pay for was the example he provided me when I asked).  Samantha and I gave him half of the money so that he could get started.  Of that half, half (a quarter of the total if you are counting) was a gift, and the rest he will pay off by bringing us fresh milk every night.  He has two milking cows that his wife milks and takes the milk to sell.

Samantha and I are going to try to raise the other half by asking you to donate to Noel’s cause. Just use the donation button below that will take you to my Paypal account.  If we can get about 20 people to give $10 each, we should be in great shape. Feel comfortable to donate as much or as little as you want.  If you would prefer to send a check e-mail me and I can send you a US address that you can send a check to.

If you do make a donation make sure that you e-mail me or leave a comment here so that I know where the money is coming from.  I would like to keep you informed with how Noel’s house is doing.


August 8, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | 4 Comments

The BIG rains came, this year in earnest.

When Samantha, Sofia and I came back from our Easter holiday, we found an inch of water pooled in the corner of our living room.  The rains had arrived whilst we were gone, and tour poor, tattered roof had been pounded for days and days.  Our neighbors told us about the sheets of water that had fallen for days at a time.  And so Sam and I mopped up, called in a roof fundi, and got on with life.  It continued to rain for another month. The fundi continued to come by and patch up the latest leaks, and slowly slowly (like most things here), we stemmed the rain inside the house.  Outside it kept on.  Our garden has been growing at a rate that makes Samantha and I laugh in amazement as we see plants seemingly double in size in a fortnight.

All very interesting, but what has really suffered here is the Ilboru road.  Famed for its dustiness in the dry season, for it’s number of cavernous holes and craters in any season, and for the raging torrents that roar down it during the rains.  This year the rains really tore it to pieces.  It makes me happy in a perverse way, because I amortize the cost (not small) of our Land Rover with every single trip I make up and down the hill.  In any other car the ride becomes 15 bone jarring minutes of heaving and lurching, hand gripping the door handle for dear life.  



The Land Rover lives for roads like this.  Of course, I would like to roar up and down the hill all day, toying with the deep ditches on either side of the road (carved out by the rain, not by man), but the road gets pretty busy with taxis (like the one creeping along in front of me in the pictures) and people.  With people on foot there is an unpleasant dynamic that exists.  The road is a sea of puddles, and it is virtually impossible to drive down and not hit a puddle.  And so as you approach people on foot, they stop and look at the path you tires are taking, trying to predict how much mud is about to leap up from the ground.  I find myself trying to avoid puddles more that I try to avoid other cars. So, if you are intrigued by all of this rainy nonsense, come and visit Samantha and I between March and May, and you too can experience the Ilboru road in the rains!

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

Tigers on Kilimanjaro?


March 9, 2008 Posted by | Arusha | Leave a comment

Late for school.

This is the sort of thing that I thought I would be writing about on my little blog.  The rains are here, the BIG rains, and the road down the mountain is worsening with every drop that falls.  A year and a half ago the president (Jakaya Kikwete, lest anyone out there should think that there is only one president in the world) was due to visit a church up the road from us, and so the road was graded beautifully.  Since then, no one of any importance has come by, and the road has suffered.  Add to the woeful state of the road the woeful cattle driving skills exhibited by the Maasai morani and the result was that we were late for school.  

 Cattle on the road

March 9, 2008 Posted by | Arusha, Uncategorized | 1 Comment