The money raised from tourists staying at the Stella Maris hotel, which is a nonprofit, is used to fund the Stella Maris School for orphaned and vulnerable children. I had the opportunity to visit the school the other day and sit in on a P7 mathematics class. Boy am I glad those days are long gone.
The teacher, who has been teaching since 1968, is a force to be reckoned with. (Aunt Jan, I think I may have found your equivalent.) The students were reviewing homework and asking about questions they got wrong. Madam, as the students referred to her, led the class through a musical response ingraining equations in their heads as she methodically stepped them through each aspect of the calculation to come up with the answer. You know the two little boys that showed up late or the kids passing notes aren’t likely to get on Madam’s bad side again anytime soon. Classes are taught in English.
When I entered the classroom, the children immediately stood and welcomed me with a song. The kindness of spirit, softness in their voices, and general goodness towards all is heartwarming given the current raucous environment in the States. We could all learn something from the kindness and generosity that is shown to everyone here, not just the foreigners. Everyone is a friend, sister, or brother, and I have lots of mammas looking out for me.
The staff of the hotel are largely students studying hotel management or tourism. I’ve convinced one of them, who is starting theological school in the fall, to provide me with some Swahili lessons each day. It is slow going, but I can at least greet people and rattle off my numbers. Today’s lesson was focused on food and bargaining. Tomorrow’s lesson will probably focus on words that will come in handy on the mountain. Interestingly enough, there are some similarities with Indonesian. When I can’t remember a word my brain pulls out the Indonesian term not the English term. I wonder if my brain is trying to tell me Tanzania is close but is no Indonesia.