Finally some blog-time. Sorry for my 4-day absence; I can’t even blame bad internet for it (it’s still working remarkably smoothly), just long, busy days with a good measure of after-dinner laziness thrown in. (You wouldn’t blame me if you saw the kind of tasty but huge and very carb-heavy evening meals they serve us here.)
A hectic and sometimes exhausting and overwhelming week came to an end with Amani’s long-awaited 10th anniversary party on Friday. 100+ current and former Amani kids, 40+ staff and hundreds of guests and well-wishers on the streets and markets of Moshi took part in the day-long celebrations. Although we helped here and there and I took over 600 pictures, all thanks goes to the local team that had worked very, very hard for months to ensure that this milestone was marked in a meaningful way.
The day kicked off with jump-rope and acrobatic performances by the kids in 3 different locations around town (we were all bussed from one destination to the next with a VERY loud truck blasting local tunes in tow), followed by an advocacy march through the city streets to raise awareness about Amani’s work in the local community, and more performances, a middle-school graduation for the older kids (more on that in another post), speeches and lots and lots of dancing at the final party pit-stop at the Amani school itself. (Important note about parties down here: EVERYTHING ends with dancing and everyone dances with so much enthusiasm and skill that it would put most reticent, rhythmically challenged Nordics or Swiss to absolute shame. Needless to say I danced too and although I don’t have much on these kids, I did manage to slip in a few “mzungu” moves that the kids were sufficiently impressed with (muzungu is the more or less affectionate term everyone here uses for a white person – you hear it pretty much every day). I’ll try to upload some video of the kids dancing as soon as I get hold of a good wifi connection – it’s some pretty priceless stuff…)
Although Boogie and I were absolutely exhausted at the end of the 12-hour celebratory marathon, the kids themselves showed so much pride and enthusiasm throughout the day – not only in their performances but also by doing seemingly insignificant but really important tasks like clearing out drinks and bottles without anyone asking or telling them to do so. It’s clear that the day not only lifted Amani’s local and hopefully national, even global profile, but also school spirits and the moods of these often all-too “battle-hardened” children.
It’s absolutely heart-warming to see that even with the most challenging backgrounds and tragic personal histories, kids that are cared for in a constructive and positive environment and given a reason to be proud of their community and themselves can really shine (and pretty brightly too in their tomato-red shirts). I hope you like the photos – couldn’t really upload more – my personal favorite is the last one where Boogie challenged a 4-year old to a dance-off… 😉
Asante sana, Amani – We were thrilled to be part of this very special day.