By Meritt Buyer and DianaRose Ernest
By the time Diana and I arrived at our Rau KDC center on Friday, it had taken us three days to get there. Keep in mind, this center is a less than ten kilometers from our office. We had been thwarted by power outages, rain, and a surprise public holiday granted by the president for his inauguration. Such is life in Tanzania. The road was still so wet on the way to the center that the boda bodas (small motorcycle taxis) crawled along avoiding the puddles and ruts.
Upon arriving at the center, we are greeted with such warmth that one is quickly able to forget the mud and damp. Each young adult shakes our hands politely with a wide smile and “Mambo.” Rau is an anomaly among BCC’s centers. Whether by luck or fate, or whatever else you want to call it, the students here are about the same age, with similar abilities and interaction styles. As they will tell you, they are all best friends. Though Lavina says it would sometimes be nice to have another girl around, she gets tired of being the only one.
For those of you that are not already aware, Building a Caring Community started a young adult program last spring. The goal is to offer more vocational training, life skills education, and some income opportunities as our clients transition to adulthood. One of the most successful aspects of this program thus far is the papermaking coop based here at Rau where eight young adults are turning scrap paper into beautiful handmade cards.
The class follows a set of pictorial instructions to guide them through the multistep process. Reading and writing are on the top of everyone’s list of things that are challenging, but they can easily follow these diagrams.
When Diana announces that we will be making paper today all of the kids spring into action. They bring out buckets and fetch water. You would be hard pressed to find a group of more enthusiastic individuals. However as soon as Living unrolls the extension cord there are shouts of ‘hapana umeme!’. The power is out again.
Diana sighs, but ever flexible, she begins to set out a different step in the paper making process. Three of the kids quickly join her and begin to make a decorative banana leaf binding for the cards that are already dry and cut. Lavina and Eric seem pleased by the change in activity. They prefer the creative decorating to blending the soaked pulp anyway.
A bit later, power restored, we return to the wet paper pulp. Jonathon quickly reappears. He honestly is not that excited by making paper, but really enjoys using the electric drill that blends the pulp.
The kids are very proud of what they make, and they have every right to be; the cards are beautiful. . They say they are happy to be learning something new and enjoy working through the process to create the final product.