Student News

Tanzania #11: Kitongo Forever

Paulina Baltazar – March 21, 2018

Tavian Njumbi ’18 describes a “cheerful” yet emotional evening as the group’s stay in Kitongo nears its end.

After a long day of working on the farm, peaked by the slaughter and subsequent feathering of chickens by us, I finally got to interact with my reading buddy, and later chat with the rest of the girls. It was an excellent form of relaxation after the rigors of the day, but as I stood in a circle surrounded by them, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of our looming separation. As I listened to Salma’s contagious giggles while I playfully tickled her before prayers, answered Philipa’s endearing yet endless questions, and gave an ear to Salome’s complaints about her past week’s exams, I realized that I was going to dearly miss all of the people and my experiences in Kitongo. The night was filled with cheerful conversations and exchanges, the last of which welcomed tomorrow’s mood:

“Will you miss us when you’re gone?” Philipa asked.
“No,” I teased.
“No?”
“I’m joking. I definitely will.”

I came here with some apprehension as to how I would connect with the Mainsprings JBFC students in such a short time frame, but as tomorrow, our final day, draws nearer, I can only wish that I had more time here in Kitongo.  I have little left to say to the girls, as evidenced by the short moments of silence in our conversation tonight, yet so much I could say. I want to tell them that I will be back in a few years, but I don’t want to make promises I’m not sure I can live up to. I want to tell them that I will write to them frequently, but I don’t know how frequent is frequent enough, and fully aware of my innocent forgetfulness, I don’t know if I will remember to send them letters consistently.

My feelings are currently bottled up, and I don’t know how to verbally express them to anyone without sounding insincere. I am dreading my approaching separation with the girls, but I know for sure that my experiences at Mainsprings JBFC and the gaiety of its resident girls will never be bygone to me.