Swahili Dale

Oct 14th, 2007 | By | Category: Updates

Dale was amazing on our trip to Okaseni. And I’m not saying that just because I’m married to him. He was a true partner and there is no way that I could have accomplished half of what we did without him.

First, he is male. As such, he has immediate entrée into the world of action, the “hands-on-the-ropes” scene, the masculine culture that does not so easily admit females.

Second, he is such a practical guy and so knowledgeable about plumbing, water systems, hardware, gardening and plants, etc. – everything in fact that was involved in the projects we initiated. Can you imagine me trying to figure out if we needed 1½-inch or 2-inch PCV piping for the water system? Hah!

Next, he handled all the money for the purchases. One thousand Tanzanian (T) shillings equals just under $1.00 US, so large purchases of $1500 US or so would cost about $1.6 million T shillings. That’s a lot of bills. We had literally wads and wads of bills crammed into our money belts, both of us looking distinctly pregnant. Needless to say, we tried to spend it asap so as to avoid any Kenyan bandits.

Then, he kept an on-going record of the purchases we made and the ones we had to make. Working from a budget compiled by Tumaini, our village contact, and Melki, the Village Chairperson, Dale made sure that we bought everything we needed in an efficient and orderly manner. At the end of the day, he was often frazzled and in need of several cold Kilimanjaro beers!

Finallly – and best of all – he learned some words and phrases in Swahili. Talking to the woman at the hardware store, he elicited a huge smile by saying, “Kumi (ten in Swahili) hinges.” At the Village Council meeting, he greeted the Council members and said how happy we were to be there – all in Swahili. Their eyes widened and little smiles crept across their faces. Everywhere we went, he immediately made friends with his linguistic efforts.

He did such a fantastic job of everything that I was in awe – and very, very grateful.

Thanks, Dale!



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