My New Home

Hello Friends and Family!

I hope everyone is doing well in the States and elsewhere. The other 40 volunteers and I finished our Pre-Service Training in December and have since moved to our permanent sites across Tanzania. I am living in a village in the northern part of the country, located in the Kiteto district of the Manyara region. My village is a sprawling wooded land spotted with mud and stick homes called bomas that are inhabited by people of the Masai tribe and connected by footpaths that cut through thick forest. I am excited to call it home for the next two years.

The road outside Kibaya town.

The road outside Kibaya town.

The day after our swearing-in ceremony at the US Embassy, I packed my belongings into a Land Rover along with four other volunteers stationed in my region and departed on a two-day journey to our new sites. After spending one night in a town named Kibaya, myself and the volunteer who would be living in the village adjacent to mine traveled the remaining 80 kilometers to our sites.

Men and children singing and dancing at a village celebration.

Men and children singing and dancing at a village celebration.

Upon arrival at my site, I was nervous as to how I would be received by the village community. I knew only one person when I arrived – my village chairperson, or mwenyekiti, who travelled with me from Kibaya to my village. I was relieved that we got along well – he helped me buy a charcoal stove and other supplies at the market and even began to teach me a few words in the tribal language – but was worried that I might be treated as a foreigner in my new home and especially anxious about the language barrier I expected to face. The Tanzanian Peace Corps staff had informed me that they used a translator to communicate with the non-Swahili-speaking members of my village during their visit to my site before my arrival.

My house is one of four similar homes originally built by Catholic Missionaries in 1992 for use by nuns and village hospital workers and since left for the village to use.

My house is one of four similar homes originally built by Catholic Missionaries in 1992 for use by nuns and village hospital workers and since left for the village to use.

Over the next few days, my initial anxieties about language and acceptance quickly dissipated. I discovered that, although the village population strongly favored the Masai language, many actually did know Swahili and were excited to talk to me and ask about who I was, where I came from, and what I was doing in the village. I continue to be surprised by how receptive my community has been to my presence. I find myself being brought gifts of milk, encouraged to participate in ceremonies and attend local events, and invited to neighbors homes to eat. One of my neighbors even slaughtered one of his goats to celebrate my coming to visit him on a Sunday afternoon.

A calabash, or kibuyu, made of a local tree’s large seed and adorned with beads. Commonly used in my village to store and carry milk.

A calabash, or kibuyu, made of a local tree’s large seed and adorned with beads. Commonly used in my village to store and carry milk.

I recently got the opportunity to attend a celebration for the circumcision of a youth in my village where I learned about some of the more interesting aspects of Masai tradition, such as song, dance, methods of slaughtering livestock, and the bloodletting of cattle, where a cow is not killed, but its Carotid artery is punctured and a quantity of blood is drained for human consumption. I found it interesting to learn about the significance surrounding circumcision itself. In Masai tradition, boys are not circumcised until they reach their teenage years and the circumcision is viewed as a rite of passage into manhood. After a boy is circumcised, he moves up into the age class of Morani, or warrior, and is referred to and addressed as such in greetings. He is also allowed to marry and wear the four-piece shuka, the clothing characteristic of the Masai warrior.

Check my Facebook page for more photos and videos from the last few weeks. Also, I have updated my mailing address in the Contact Me page to my current address here at my site.

Thanks for reading! Keep in touch.

Chuck

Karibuni!

Welcome everyone, and thanks for visiting my blog! I am safely in Tanzania now and just over one week into training. I am having an amazing time getting to know my fellow volunteers-in-training and the PC/Tanzania staff, as well as enjoying the beauty of this country.

I arrived in Dar es Salaam late last Wednesday night with the other 40 volunteers in my training class. At the airport, we loaded ourselves and our two-years worth of personal belongings into three vans and departed for a religious center in Dar, where we stayed until Tuesday of this week. Here, we participated in daily language, culture, and health and safety classes. We also had plenty of time to relax, spend time outdoors, get to know the rest of our training class, and practice our Swahili by having broken conversations with the church community. I have posted some pictures from our week here on my facebook page and will be posting them here soon.

This Tuesday, we divided into groups and moved to our homestay villages, all of which are located around the town of Muheza in the Tanga region, about 350 miles north of Dar es Salaam. I am living in a household with a mother, father, two brothers who are 17 and 20, three sisters, and my oldest sister’s baby. Although communication is difficult at times, my host family has made me feel extremely welcome and comfortable.

We have no electricity in my village, so my posting will be infrequent for the next two months. However, I will have plenty of time to keep in touch the old-fashioned way and any mail sent to the following address will be delivered to me in my village:

Peace Corps
Charles Cahalane
P.O. Box 9123
36A Zambia Road
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Please send all mail in letter-sized envelopes or shipping envelopes under the weight of 4 lbs. Also, do not send any valuable items and be sure to write “AIR MAIL” somewhere on envelopes.

Asante sana for your support!

First Post: Counting the Days…

Welcome, friends and family, and thank you for visiting my blog!

As many of you know, I will be spending the next two years working as a health education volunteer in Tanzania with the Peace Corps. It has been over a year since I began the application process over a year ago and, as my departure date draws closer, I am becoming more and more excited for the new experiences that life in Tanzania will bring. At the same time, I find myself becoming increasingly anxious about leaving behind the life in the states that I have become so familiar with over the last 22 years. It is comforting to know that I have the continued support of my friends and family through this transition and I want to thank those close to me for their encouragement.

Yesterday marked exactly one month from my arrival in Tanzania. Upon my arrival on October 12th, I will begin nine weeks of Pre-Service Training in the Muheza village, located in the Tanga region of Tanzania and pinpointed on the map below. During this training period, I will live with a host family and prepare to transition to a Tanzanian region to be determined where I will live and work as a health educator for two years. The specific responsibilities of this role will be determined by the needs of the community that I am placed in, but will likely involve working with local youth groups, community organizations, and existing health service providers.



This morning I had the opportunity to speak with the director of Peace Corps/Tanzania and a number of the members of the PC/Tanzania staff via conference call. After months of communicating through various offices at the Peace Corps headquarters in DC, the conference call was a welcome and reassuring experience, as it enabled me to put a friendly voice to some of the in-country staff who I will soon be working with.

Until my departure, I will spend much of my time studying Kiswahili, attempting to determine what I should and should not pack for the next two years, and enjoying the company of friends and family as much as possible.

If you wish to keep up to date with my experiences in Tanzania, sign up to receive e-mail notifications of my new posts at the bottom right-hand corner of this page. Though my access to internet abroad may be limited, I will do my best to post updates on a somewhat regular basis. Alternately, my contact information for E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype are located on the right side of this page.