We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Early Retirement and No Painted Black Feet

So, I have taken early retirement. I was given some lovely retirement gifts from my very special students; beautiful turquoise earrings and a pretty bead key chain. For me, it feels rather sadly like the end of an era at the moment, but I know soon it will feel like the beginning of new adventures!
My retirement gifts
We have all really enjoyed our years of home schooling in Tanzania. In three years I have taught Year R through to Year 5 (clearly, you really never know what is possible until you try!) and we have covered so many interesting topics, had many fun-finding-out adventures and all, including me, learned an awful lot!
Our early days of home schooling: experimenting with electricity! (2010)
Early art days: experimenting with mulberry and various dyes (2010)
I will miss the frequent opportunities of spontaneous learning, the flexible schedule and the ability to go off and do different things with many people in various places. It wasn't always easy and it was always busy, teaching and planning, as well as the regular project work in the village, while often hosting visitors, but it has been such a rich time! As I nostalgically look back on all we have done, I am so grateful for the past years of school together with Amisadai and Louisa. I hope that the foundation we have been able to lay in their early years of education will stand them in good stead for the future. I am so grateful for the opportunities they have had to experience a new culture, to learn a new language, to learn practically through so much "doing", as well as opportunities they have had to teach others, to share their faith. I appreciate the privilege I have had to teach them every subject in an integrated way, relating all aspects of their learning to their faith (which has grown), and also to the different cultures we live in and their experiences of life here in Tanzania.

But moving forward is a good thing! The girls are excited to be going to school, although Louisa seems more excited about having a packed lunch than anything else! And I am excited to be able to focus more on other things and have evenings free of lesson prep and topic planning! Now all I need to do is sort out school uniforms and packed lunches!

Having said that, sourcing bits of school uniform proved rather difficult ... in particular, black dress shoes! What I would have given for a Clarks Shoe shop ... even with the queues! I hunted on several days, walking the streets of Mwanza, seeking help (which always led to a wild goose chase) and was failing miserably. I figured I would have to paint the girls' feet black for their first day at school! This wouldn't be so bad for Louisa who on her first day at Aldermaston School in the UK, back in 2012, came out of school barefoot, carrying her shoes! But, on the last day of the Easter holidays, the girls and I traipsed through the streets, rummaging through every pile of tattered old shoes on the side of the road and every stall of cheap Chinese shoes that would only last a week. And finally, hot, tired, dusty, sweaty ... we found some! And started bargaining!

So Amisadai and Louisa were completely presentable (no painted feet) for their first day of school today. And we arrived promptly at 7:45am (sadly the days of a cup of tea in bed may well be over ... for a little while anyway!) And they came home happy; full of the excitement of swimming lessons, PE classes, packed lunches, house teams and lots of new friends! They are obviously at an International school, as both of them are struggling to remember or pronounce the names of their classmates!

Check out the black shoes!

So as I retire and (albeit rather sadly) put away my flipchart pens, triangle (school "bell") and house-point charts, I am thankful. Thankful for our girls. Thankful for what we've had. Thankful for the opportunities for all of us now to come.


  1. Great work, Rachel - I hope you get some time to pause before investing your considerable talents in the next venture!

  2. Oh Rachel. What a journey and what an investment in their hearts, their faith, their lives.

    I love the gifts they gave you; how sweet. Praise God for the memories and the sharing.

    I can relate completely to the learning requirements of mother and children! I know too that one day it might be me taking early retirement too - only God knows.

    Well done, well done.

    May God bless each of you in your new situations and prepare the way ahead for His work in you all now.

    With much love from the Braithwaites,
    P.s I hope the girls are still able to do the occasional blog post.

  3. Thank you! And yes ... I hope the girls will keep up with their blogging!


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