T.I.A.

19 06 2011

So, lots of things have been happening since my last post. However, before I say anything about that I’m going to explain a phenomenon called “This Is Africa”.

“This Is Africa” or “T.I.A.” is a fairly self-explanatory statement. However, it’s usage is fairly varied and ranges across a wide number of oddities. When anything goes wrong, the rote reply is “T.I.A.”, meaning that when anything weird happens, it should just be taken in stride since weird shit always happens in Africa.

Some instances that I’ve come across are:

Me: This beef tastes and feels like plastic

African Person (AP): T.I.A.!

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Me: Oh man, I just got ripped off by this taxi!

AP: T.I.A.!

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Me: That man is literally pissing into the wind on the side of the road…

AP: T.I.A.!

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Scene: Making our daily peanut butter sandwiches for the kids at the orphanage.

Me: There’s mold all over the bread and a fly in the peanut butter…

Another Volunteer: Dude… T.I.A.

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Scene: Sitting in a parked car in the middle of a darkened red-light district alley.

Me: WTF

Everyone Else in the Car: MMMMmmmmmmmm yeahhhhhhh T.I.A.

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I’m guessing you get the gist of T.I.A. by now. Whenever there’s a WTF moment, it’s brushed off as T.I.A. Honestly, it’s kind of growing on me. A motorcycle can be flying down the sidewalk towards me at 100 KPH and it’s not really a big deal because, well… T.I.A. Or we can be at a nice dinner (literally 30 minutes ago) and the entire city experiences a rolling blackout. OR (this one is a little upsetting), the house I’m staying at can be on hour 37 of no electricity, and it doesn’t really faze me.

So yeah, if anything ever goes wrong in life, just think… some weirder shit is happening in Africa.

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UPDATE ON THE ORPHANAGE

So after careful deliberation, I’ve decided to sponsor a child at the center. It’s $85 a month ($35 for education and $50 for health and welfare), which is a fairly good chunk of change for a recent grad. But I figure it’s worth a lot more to them than it is to me.

The girl I want to sponsor is one of the older kids from the center. She doesn’t live at the center, but boards at the secondary school. She’s 16 years old and INCREDIBLY intelligent. She has these rings burned into her cheeks, which is a sign of a Masai Tribe. The Masai are the indigenous people living in Eastern Africa. They are traditionally a nomadic tribe, but are slowly changing to a stationary people. They live out in “The Bush” and are denoted through the markings on their face, the holes in their ears (from large ear-expanding earrings), and the bottom two front teeth missing.

Fun Fact: I learned today that the reason they remove the bottom two front teeth is twofold

  1. When they’re too sick (unconcious, etc.) to open their mouths, they can be fed and given medicine and water through the gap in the bottom teeth
  2. Masai people (when kissing), don’t believe in using tongue. However, they poke the tip of their tongue through the small hole at the bottom, and this is considered erotic (SO SEKSI).

So anyway, Masai people are polygamists. The women are INCREDIBLY subservient to the men. Some men can have over 20-something wives. I personally met a woman who was one of 10. They all live in these huts made out of mud, grass, and cow dung that they call “Boma’s”. There are 2 beds (read: cloth on floor) in each Boma: one for the wife and one for the husband. The husband will choose his “entertainment” of the night, and the woman will come to his bed in the Boma for that night, then return to her own bed. When a visitor comes to the village, the husband gives him not only a Boma for the night, but also the “attentions” of the woman living in that specific Boma. The children that these women have are considered to be “property” of the male, and if the wife ever leaves, the children are in possession of the husband regardless of abuse or living conditions.

So the girl I want to sponsor, Neshpai, was living in this type of situation. When she was 12 her father was going to force her to marry a man in the village. She refused, and was beaten brutally for her indiscretion. She ended up running away and was taken in by the orphanage. She was then kidnapped by her family, and forced to have sex with another man in the village. She was rescued again by the family, and is now thriving in what we consider to be about 9th/10th grade.

While her story is awful and heart-wrenching, it’s incredibly common in Tanzania amongst the Masai tribes. So anyway, I figured that I would give just a little bit of what I have to make her life a little better. There are tons of kids that the orphanage supports that aren’t sponsored, so as I make more money I hope to be able to sponsor more kids.

But in any case, for those who have some extra cash on hand, email me if you feel like sponsoring a kid! The bond between sponsor and orphan is a very strong one, and has the extra benefit of being tax deductible ;).

But okay I miss and love all of you!

<3ange

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