Friday, December 31, 2010

This is it!!

At base camp (4600 m). We leave at 11:30 pm for Uhuru Peak.. just in time for the sunrise on New Years Day!!

Today's hike was short but difficult.. Ready for a nap to refuel the energy. Keep Praying!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Barranco Wall... Check!

Taking on Barranco Wall (4200 m) is always a 'fun' experience. It wasn't easy, but we all made it.

Not much viewing today as we were hiking through fog and mist.
The view of the peak is amazing from here (Karanga Camp 3930m).

Off to base camp tomorrow - Barrafu!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scenic day..

We are all safe and sound at Barranco camp (3950 m). All healthy (knock on wood!).
Today was an uphill trek to Lava Tower (4600 m). Lava tower's altitude is the same as base camp (Barafu Camp) we then decent down to the camp site. This exercise is referred to as 'Trek high sleep low' to help us acclimatize.

Today we saw loads of waterfalls and the senecio - Google it, they are really cool looking plants. It’s cold here and it hailed for a bit.

Tomorrow we take on the mighty beast - the Barranco Wall - Google’s crazy..

For now its bed time - Keep Praying! :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No rain today...Must be your prayers!!

All in good spirits at Shira Camp (3800 meters).
Great news - No rain today. It was really steep for most of the hike.
Left the rainforest...into mooreland (short shrubs). Its freezing here but the starts are beautiful.You can't believe how many you can see.
Off to Barranco Camp (3950 m) tomorrow via Lava Tower (4600m)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Soaked is an understatement!!!

Blackberry won't work so we will text in our daily updates.
Day went fine - got to Machame Camp (3000 m. Summit at 5840m). Hike was challenging and got drenched in the rainforest.
Now sipping chai as its cold. Food was great. Off to bed soon. Shira Camp tomorrow.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Kili Time!!

This morning the entire team left the Darul Muslimeen Orphanage. Part of the team left quite early in the morning to catch the bus to Moshi for the Kilimanjaro climb but some of the kids still managed to wish us off. The rest of the team stayed back a few hours to share one last treat with the kids- soda! It was nice to share some special items the boys would not typically get. The bus ride to Moshi was hot and dusty but we managed to catch a few zzzz’s as the bus whizzed along the narrow highway from Chilenze to Moshi. It took about 7 hours total. Once we arrived in Moshi our guide for the upcoming climb, Frederick, greeted us at the bus station. We then had a debriefing to ensure we have all the needed items for the 7 day hike we are embarking on in the morning. There is a bit of underlying anxiety as we come closer to leaving in the morning to start the hike. Frederick was very through in his meeting with us. He wants to ensure we all make it to the top if possible. He noted this will be his 196th summit! We will have a team of 8 people to get us to the top. The team consist of the mountain guide (Frederick), an assistant guide, a cook, and a small group of porters. We hope to rely on their experience to safely arrive to the peak on Jan 1. It will be exhilarating to be on Africa’s highest spot at the start of the New Year!

Will blog soon – for now, its Kili time! (Please keep us in your thoughts)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

After all they are kids!!

This morning the orphans were up early to wash their laundry. They started this at about 6 AM.  Not too long later there were clothes strewn over the fence and atop the bushes everywhere you looked. Once their chores were complete we sat down to only chai for breakfast. Soon after, we were headed out the orphanage gates to our Mt. Uluguru adventure. The town of Morogoro sits at the base of Mt. Uluguru. The orphans led the way as they have trekked this path many times. One of the orphans hiked in what looked like men’s dress shoes from the 70’s. The worst part though, was that the shoe strings weren’t original and seemed to be 3 feet long. He had to keep tying them and tucking them into this shoe to be able to walk. Maybe that wasn’t the worst part. We can’t imagine hiking in men’s dress shoes. Some commented they do this for their exercise. Isa, one of the orphans, had already been up the mountain this morning! The kids were giddy as we headed up the mountain. We stopped mid-way as some of us needed a rest. At this point we decided to take an alternate route that took us to beautiful waterfalls instead of heading to the summit. 

Once we arrived at the waterfalls area the kids began climbing on the rocks and swimming in a pool of water that the falls created. Tons of splashing and laughter could be heard. We even saw some cannon ball splashes! They had a blast! Children are so creative, some of the boys created a slide on the rocks just by splashing water to make the smooth rocks slick. After a couple hours of playing we started to head back down the mountain. On way home the boys were trying to knock mango’s from the trees as they don’t get fruit in their regular meal regimen. 
Upon returning to the orphanage, the Peak 4 Poverty team spotted an ice cream man and decided to treat the kids. The ice cream man came on his bicycle with a big bag of cones tied to the front of the handlebars and a pail of ice cream strapped to the back of the bike. We didn’t even see any ice and really have no idea how he keeps it cold. The ice cream man makes the cones look like roses as he scoops the ice cream from the bucket with a regular table teaspoon. Lunch follows just a bit after all this excitement and once again we have ugali and red beans (maharage). Lunch is now over and the team is taking a needed nap as we are too tired to keep up with the orphans during a game of soccer later on. They are all waiting anxiously outside to start the match!

Football! The boys are all off to play soccer at a dirt field that is a short walk from the orphanage. On the way there we notice that one of the boys is wearing flip flops that have broken straps, on BOTH feet.  Seriously, flip flops are so inexpensive and this little guy is shuffling along with two broken shoes. But most of the boys have no shoes at all so perhaps this was actually fortunate for him. The goal posts are sticks stuck in the ground. There are no boundary lines and the boys play the ball no matter where it goes. It was a good game and everyone seemed to be having fun despite these challenges. Soccer means so much to these unfortunate kids. This is one thing that makes them forget about their challenges in life – their lack of parents, basic living condition, skipping childhood. Some of them even have nick names after soccer stars such as Messi and Ashley Cole.

Later in the evening we spent some time saying good bye to the orphans as today is our last day with them. They were all tuckered out from the day’s events. Some of them were falling asleep while we made some closing comments. After the meeting we spent some time with a few of the older boys showing them pictures from our time here.  Isa (one of the orphans) wants to be an astronomer and showed us some stars and planets he could locate in the sky.

We are heading off to bed as in the morning we take a bus to Moshi which is the foothills of Kilimanjaro. Anxiety is setting in as the climb nears! We do want to note that due to technical difficulties with Verizon that we are not positive we will be able to blog during the climb. Apparently all those Verizon people you see in the commercials (Can you hear me now?) have left us high and dry! LOL Stay tuned for further post. We hope to stay connected to you all. We will blog post climb if you don’t hear from us this week. Keep us in your thoughts as we tackle this dangerous and challenging wonder of nature!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Magnificent View of Uluguru

 The Darul Muslameen orphanage sits at the bottom of Mt. Uluguru. The weather is hot but not as hot as Dar Es Salaam. It’s a terrific change from the humidity we just left! The town of Morogoro is quite beautiful. Large trees that must be at least a 100 years old line the streets creating a green foliage tunnel as you drive through the main city route. This orphanage is much nicer than the last one we visited. They have a larger compound as well as a mill and a bakery. Don’t get too excited though as the bakery is really a small room with an oven, that is heated with burning wood the kids chopped with a very dull ax.

Our breakfast this morning was fruit and bread that they boys had prepared last night. Oh, and tea! The tea in Africa is so delicious!  It was great homemade bread too, my grandmother would be proud of their bread making skills! They have located us in the guest quarters and we are very impressed with the accommodations. Today we are working with the kids in a rotating classroom schedule and getting to know their personalities.  We worked with the kids on career planning, English speaking skills, Art, Kiswahili.  For lunch we ate rice with goat meat (pilau) and sliced veggies (kachumbari). The goat was freshly slaughtered by the orphans themselves.  I’m surely not joking, we watched them skin the hair from the goat legs this morning. Another popular food during meals is ugali and mahrage (beans). Ugali is a white substance made from a flour base.  It is often substituted for rice as it is less costly. We like the taste as much as the rice. Today it rained quite a bit and we lost electricity a few different times. A bit later in the day after some more class time we ate dinner.

  When the boys are done eating they are required to wash their dishes. The children are required to do many things most children their age would not do for themselves. One boy- Kondo (picture above), who is 5 years old, takes on quite a lot of responsibility for his age. He dresses himself, gets his own plate of food at meal time, and washes his dishes with no help from the others. These responsibilities seem to take away so much from their childhood innocence. They must grow up so fast. They also seem to be lacking in emotional connection. During prayers a little boy put his arm around one of the volunteers to gain attachment as would do with a parent figure. Tomorrow we plan to climb  Mount Uluguru  in the morning and a soccer match in the afternoon. Could be a muddy mess with all the rain we received today. More on that tomorrow..

My living room is the same size as their house.

When we arrived at Mamma Teddy’s (Orphanage in Chanika) today we were pretty taken aback. The orphans are living in a small building that is comprised of 4 rooms. It is not bigger in total than most American’s living rooms. The kid’s sleeping rooms have bunk beds in them. We think they must have built the beds right in the room because there is barely space to pass between the door to the interior of the room. Outside of the living quarters there is an outhouse and two small buildings.  The term “building” is used loosely. Inside one of the buildings, some of the girls were cooking large pots of rice and beans. This would be their meal later in the afternoon. The kids only receive one meal a day at this orphanage. Despite how lacking this set-up appears, it is to my understanding that they have just moved to this better location.  The upside to this new location is that it provides land in which the orphans are able to farm. They can harvest the food for both a food supply as well as crops to sell locally which will bring in money for other needed items such as tuition fees for the children.  Two of the girls took me on a tour of their farm. They grow all sorts of things like bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes and mangos. The main issue with production on the land is the lack of water supply. There were several holes in the ground that had once held water but are now dried up. Even the traditional well located on the farm is without water. Later in the day we saw a girl carrying water in 10 gallon bucket on her head. She had fetched it from somewhere and brought it all the way back on her head as they do not have access to running water.  Even with these challenges the kids are in good spirits and were very excited to see us. At the end of the day the children were kind enough to walk us all the way to the bus stop to say goodbye!