After a spectacular day of safari on the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater, our four-by-four split off from the others as we headed back to the guest house. Marianne and I planned to pay our respects to Project Rhotia in the town of Karatu. Ray Kronquist of Santa Clara, who provides support for this after-school computer skills program, had asked us to drop in on its founder, a retired teacher named Martha Shoo.
We had in mind a short visit that would not impose too much on the three other volunteers in our four-by-four, all tired and anxious for a shower to wash off the safari dust. They intended to stay in the four-by-four while Marianne and I delivered Ray’s modest gift of solar-powered lights.
But one cannot easily turn a meeting with an African into something perfunctory. We drove up to the squat, one-room cement structure housing Project Rhotia’s handful of computers long after four o’clock. By now, Marianne and I should know Africa well enough to have anticipated what we found: Martha, her computer skills teacher Judy, and fifteen or so uniformed teenagers waiting to greet us with bougainvilleas, songs, speeches, and a tour of their little building and a slightly larger one under construction next to it, which they hope to move into within a few months. The thought put into that welcome shamed the minimal effort Marianne and I had made to visit.
None of us stayed inside the four-by-four.—Don Stoll