Homestay Reflection, by Marissa Bergman

FROM MY JOURNAL, JULY 14th

Just arrived back at Swifts ~ my new homestay* location. Farida greeted me at the gate. She has the sweetest disposition, as does Zara, Mohamed’s younger sister. She’s 14 and is now away at school in Dar es Salaam, so for now Farida and I are the only girls around until Mama Sophia gets home. (I can’t help but notice this as my company is usually just 2 Somali men.) I walked to my room to put my stuff down and upon entering the “baby” classroom (to which my room is connected) I was greeted by 8 or 9 pairs of wide children’s eyes, all standing on a mat facing the same direction. I said hello, how are you, what are you doing… no sooner had they responded “praying,” I felt silly for asking & apologized for interrupting. Once I closed the door behinid me, they resumed & have been praying ever seince. It’s been about 15 minutes perhaps. Mohamed is out there with them now.

… Power’s out. It’s interesting…none of the children made a single sound, there was no break in the praying. No one reacted, just continued on. I was just thinking how when the power goes out in the states, children scream, people pause. . .

 Picture 1
Children studying by lamplight while the power was out.

I am very much enjoying my stay so far. Mohamed has displaced himself from his room for these 2 weeks giving me a place to sleep…and a very comfortable place at that. The bed is large and although I can feel the boards beneath the mattress, it’s quite comfortable. The walls are white and the curtains blue & white.

Picture 3
I don’t actually spend that much time here because I wake up early to go to schools~ this week is primary gov’t schools ~ and then I don’t come back till after music class around 6 or 7. Dinner’s late, and then it’s pretty much conversation & straight to bed. It’s not hard to fall asleep, and the first night I even fell asleep with the lights on (sound familiar papi?)
baby classroom at night
The “baby” classroom that’s connected to my room. I used to work here, now I sleep here.

Mohamed’s father is a very interesting guy. He tells me to call him Abdi (the family name). He is very tall and stout and has a large voice. He tells me I don’t ever eat enough and makes me tie my hair back when I eat — it’s bad for my health.” He is always wearing some type of Maasai plaid around his waist like a long skirt. Mohamed says his father grew up with Maasai, although they are Somalian and speak Somali with each other. We talked about Germany today since I explained that I am half. Regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall he says, “Even I was happy on that day. I was so heppy,” and also believes that what America did to Germany after World War 2 was unfair. We ate dinner by lamplight, for the power was still out. The three of us went outside with our flashlights after that and continued talking. I exclaimed something happily about how beautiful the stars look as the night deepens and he chuckled. Mohamed elbows me & says “He knows all about the stars, he grew up Maasai, remember?” “YES,” Abdi explains, “The Maasai people can tell many things from the stars. . . if it going to rain, if there will be hunger, a drought…” “And they are never wrong,” Mohamed adds. I took several long-shutter exposures to try to capture the sheer beauty that I see at night, but my hands were shaky. Then I realized I could do a makeshift “tripod” by placing a textbook (I live at a school!) on the ground and the camera facing straight up. Whisssskk whirrrrr. .. . .Tiny fireflies**
in the jar that is my camera. :)

and that is how I captured the starlight.

**Tiny fireflies
in the jar that is my camera.:)

the stars ** little fireflies in the jar that is my camera
p.s. You can see Mars ^.^

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