"Moving Pictures" Personal Page by Geisha_Girl

The REAL Rock Stars of Kilimanjaro

My time spent volunteering in Africa will go down in the chapters as one of the most defining moments of my life. I learned so much from that experience which I enthusiastically share with anyone who knows me.

The children from the Kilimahewa Nursery school where I volunteered still continue to touch my life and I think about them often. I wonder what new things they are studying, what new songs they have learned. I wonder if they're healthy and still happy. Their bright eyes and smiling faces still resonate so vividly in my mind. Each day I spent with them the more I wanted to pack them all up and take them home with me......ALL of them! But, unfortunately, I am not Oprah, so I indulged in every minute I was there and could only hope I made that time as memorable for them as they made it for me.

Just recently I came across a folder on my computer that I hadn't opened up in a couple of years. In that folder is where I stored all the video footage I captured during my first visit to Tanzania. What a delightful surprise! I have tons of footage but no time to compile them! So I sat down and played back the videos and once again the happy tears started to trickle down my face. How could I have forgotten about these images?

Thanks to VT's snazzy new technology, I can post them here and share them with friends and family. Some of you who read through my stories from Africa are familiar with the children of Kilimahewa already. Now you can see (and hear) for yourself in these moving images what joy they brought me each and every day I stepped foot into their tiny little classroom.

On the final day in the classroom----and in true "Geisha" fashion, I hosted a big party for the children to show my appreciation of the time we spent together. I went into town and purchased all kinds of goodies---cookies, candy, crayons, coloring books.....we played TWISTER, and kickball....we jumped rope and sang songs (both in English and Swahili)....and we danced. Boy, did we dance! They taught me their favorite Tanzanian dances and I taught them those god-awful 'boy band' dance moves from the 90's.
And then it was story time----their favorite pastime. I read them the famous Fairy Tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Mr. Massawe, the owner of the school, translated to them in Swahili as I read to them in English. The looks on their faces were priceless (especially those precious little girls) as they heard the stories of beautiful princes and princesses in their pretty dresses.

The photo above was taken during my second visit to Tanzania the year after I volunteered at the school. Through the generosity of volunteers and donations, their tiny little village classroom expanded into 2 larger classrooms with an actual hard floor and roof above their heads. Although a year or so had passed, I still recognized their little faces and names. I knew they still remembered me---their mwalim (teacher)---once they rushed the supplies table and grabbed the book I had bought them, "Mcheshi Aenda Safari", which I used to read to them over and over everyday--and they asked me on that day to read it to them again!

The video footage presented here is of the songs they sang to me during my last day in class before I departed as their teacher.

On the day I shot this footage, when they first saw me with the camera, they thought I was simply taking photographs of them. So they started out being very poised, very attentive, singing their songs and standing still for their photos to be taken.

This video shows them singing the songs of their homeland, "Kilimanjaro" with such pride and enthusiasm!

Once I played back the video footage on my camera and showed them, the children were so fascinated to see themselves in the "moving pictures"......those little *Rock Stars* didn't hold back after that and really put on a good show for the camera!

Here's their performance of another song once they realized the MOVING PICTURES were being filmed (check out the 'party girls' standing on the benches!) ;-)

Step aside Beyoncé!!

Update on Tumaini

One of the greatest gifts of all coming out of this experience in Tanzania was being introduced to this amazing child, Tumaini----the adopted daughter of the dear friend who accompanied me as a fellow volunteer. (You can read about their phenomenal story here).

So much has happened since the 2 1/2 years from the first day we met this miracle child.

As I was reading the stories of Cinderella to the children of Kilimahewa, little did I know that our own Fairy Tale princess was awaiting her fate just across town at the Light in Africa orphanage.

Since making her home in the U.S., Tumaini is growing up to be an accomplished, intelligent, curious, and well-traveled child whom I am proud to have coined the name, "Auntie RoRo" for me. Needless to say, she is a very sociable child who loves meeting new people (and pets!) and welcomes change. She's a soccer player, a swimmer, a ballerina (already hit the stage with her first performance), and we can now add SUPERMODEL to her resume.

Last year Tumaini was "discovered" while she was out dining at a cafe with her Mom by a photographer of a well-known online children's clothing catalog. The photographer gave the mother her business card and asked to set up a photo shoot for the new clothing line.

A few months later, we can now see Tum Raider featured as their new "Little Citizen of the World!" and posing for their Fall campaign.

More photos here

She has a bright future ahead in whatever she decides to pursue. One day she will truly understand and appreciate just how "true" her Fairy Tale has come......

  • Page Updated Oct 17, 2008
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