After we finished our work at Endulen Hospital, we decided to take a short trip to Laetoli. I wanted to say hello to Margret who is the curator there and also thought it would be fun to show Leigh, Liz and the kids the famous footprint site. When we got to Laetoli, the museum was closed and there was no sign of Margret. So, we walked down the hill to the site. Much to my surprise, I saw that there was an excavation in progress about 50 meters from the original footprint site. This seemed interesting so we picked up the pace and headed to the site where the team seemed to be packing up. A professorial Tanzanian man who seemed to be in charge, approached us in a friendly way and greeted us in English. When we introduced ourselves, I found out that this was none other than Dr. Fidelis Masao whom I had met when I first visited Tanzania with Pam Willoughby in 1989! We had a good laugh about that. Realizing that I was also an anthropologist, he quickly offered to give us a personal tour and gave us some amazing news about an amazing new footprint discovery. From the description, this is likely the most significant since the original discovery of the Laetoli footprints by Mary Leakey. Dr. Masao was incredibly gracious and welcoming. He gave a special tour to the kids who were really enthralled by the whole thing. It was quite special to be there at such an exciting time.
Once we had said goodbye to Dr. Masao and the team from the University of Dar es Salaam we ran into Margret. She was surprised but happy to see us and took us up to the museum. We had a great visit with her up at the museum for well over an hour. She and I talked while the kids, Leigh and Ken went through the museum.
It was wonderful to take Leigh, Liz and the kids to Laetoli. To do it on a day when such a discovery had just been made was incredible.
Today we went to The Village of Hope to discuss the upcoming Power Off For Poverty fundraiser that I will be doing at my school in January. Participants taking part in Power Off For Poverty pledge to power off all of their electronics (iPads, phones, TVs, computers, game consoles) to raise money for the Village of Hope in Mwanza.
The director, Julius, was really nice and he took us on a tour of the orphanage. One of the great things about Village of Hope is that they take in kids with special needs. This orphanage used to be a dormitory style orphanage but now they are switching to the Village of Hope style where they have a Mama and eight kids (different ages and genders) living under one roof. They have an ‘auntie’ that comes during the day. This model of care is a great way to teach kids about family, love and basic house chores.
This was an amazing place to visit I hope to return soon!
You can learn more about Village of Hope – Mwanza by clicking here…http://vohafrica.com/villages/tanzania/
We had a great day visiting Luchelele School outside of Mwanza. When we arrived we were mobbed by at least 100 kids asking for pens. Today was the day the Grade 4s were writing their standardized federal exams. We set up in an old classroom and after a significant amount of waiting we collected the data we needed. The camera was being stubborn and resulted in the kids waiting longer than usual. I had with me a puzzle which I had purchased in Iceland this summer and I gave it to Elizabeth to play with. The Tanzanian kids were so curious and eager to try the puzzle that almost the entire school crowded into the room. When we were gathered in the playground we were once again waiting for the camera so we drew an “Xs & Os’ game in the dirt and proceeded to play. Almost immediately we attracted all of the students who were excited to learn and play. Pretty soon we had four to five games going at once. Then Kristjan showed them how to play thumb wars and to roars of laughter everyone lined up to play with him. As we pulled out they pleaded with Sariko to bring us back tomorrow to play some more games. It was a great day!
Today we worked at St. Mary’s International School. It may seem odd to be measuring kids at a private school when interested in growth faltering. The reason to include this school, though, is that it helps flesh out the full range of variation in nutritional and socioeconomic status in the sample. In any case, this was the first exposure to our work for Leigh, Liz and the kids. The day went amazingly well. The kids at the school were very well behaved and the teachers extremely accommodating. Leigh and Liz took on data recording roles at two stations. They performed like seasoned field researchers. Kristjan and Elizabeth also pitched in with gusto. Elizabeth helped instruct kids how to stand for the stadiometer and Kristjan helped the little kids get their shoes and socks back on. For the big kids, he handed out lollipops, a job that he found quite boring. All in all, it was a good day. It was interesting for the kids, a good introduction for them to our work and we got great data.
Right after we saw the Leopard kill, we saw twenty three elephants in the distance. We drove to get a closer look. We went around the pond that they were eating and drink from and they came right towards us! One trumpeted. There were three small babies that were just over a metre high and they were about 15 feet long. They sometimes had a dust bath using the dirt from the road because it helps keep Tsetse flies off of them. Tsetse flies are little flies that take a chunk out of skin – kind of like horse flies. The elephants complete surrounded the vehicle. My dad lifted me up to put me on the roof so that’s how we got one of the pictures that you can see below.
Today was great. We saw lots of things. First on our drive we saw a Leopard eating his kill in a tree. It was a Reedbuck. Then we saw the stomach of the Reedbuck fall out of the tree and that happened because Leopards don’t like to eat the stomachs of things – so he ate around it. It smelled really bad. Kristjan kept singing “It’s raining Reedbucks out of the Sky. Reedbucks. No need to ask why….”
This morning, Sariko took us for a game drive before breakfast. We went at 6:00am! That is pretty early. Unfortunately, we didn’t see that many animals. They were not there. Plus, I also forgot my camera.
Then we went back and had breakfast. I had bacon and pancakes. Then we went for a second game drive. I remembered my camera this time. This time, we found the animals! First, we saw a big giraffe. Then we saw a whole group of giraffes! Next we saw a lot of cattle. Two Maasai warriors came running towards us. They wanted water. So, gave them a bottle. Sariko said to them, “don’t throw away the bottle.” Then we kept driving.
We came to the big marsh. That’s where the animals were. There we saw a stampede of wildebeest and zebras. It was funny because they were running back and forth. They seemed very confused.
Next, I spotted two lions in the grass! There were lots of them. By the way, I also have very poor eyesight. There was a whole pride of lions. We saw that they had a dead wildebeest and they trying to tear it apart. A lioness pulled the guts out. There was poop inside the guts. Looked like she liked it.
There was also a pretty big elephant nearby. We drove to take a look. It had one and a half tusks. That’s kind of all we saw.