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Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the opening weekend

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The week is wrapping up and the Wisconsin women's hockey team is getting prepared to open the season off against Minnesota State. This week has been pretty uneventful, and the team is focused. 

The big hype for the team this week is the premier of Scandal on ABC that the team plans to watch together Thursday night. Other than that, practice has been our main concern and preparing ourselves for what is to come and the start of our journey. 

For this week, I talked to a few teammates and got their take on the upcoming weekend. This might be a shorter blog post than normal, but shows the emotions of my teammates who are excited and prepared to start climbing the mountain to the top come drop of the puck Friday. 


Junior forward Blayre Turnbull has high expectations for her team this weekend, but also for the fans watching and cheering us on.

"The thing I'm most looking forward to this weekend is seeing all of our fans pack the arena," Turnbull said. "It is such a great feeling to be able to come onto the ice and see over 2000 fans in the stands. Hopefully we are able to feed off of their energy and give them a reason to keep on cheering throughout all six periods this weekend." 

Junior forward Karley Sylvester was another teammate I spoke with about the game, and she looks forward to starting the season Friday night. 

"I am really looking forward to starting the year off strong," Sylvester said. "I know the team has worked extremely hard in the off-season to be as prepared as we can. It is going be a fun to watch our team grow together as a family and accomplish great things along the way." 


Another Badger excited to kick off the year is Brittany Ammerman. Fans are familiar with her absence in the lineup last year and she is looking forward to Friday night to resume her career. She enjoyed playing against Team Japan, but is anxious to start the season in hopes of a promising finish for the group. 

"It feels great to be back and be contributing to the team on the ice," Ammerman said while discussing the emotions of being back with the team. "Our game against Team Japan allowed our freshman to get their nerves out and feet wet and served the same purpose for me. After not playing for a year, I needed an exhibition game like that to get back into the flow of the game completely. I think this weekend will be a great stepping stone for our team and allow us to learn about ourselves and officially begin our journey together. We have a great group of team players and I am looking forward to seeing how much we have progressed since the Japan game and how much we will progress from this weekend forward."

Brit is excited to be back and we are certainly looking forward to having her contribute to the team's success this season.

One final teammate I caught up with is sophomore forward, Molly Doner. She spent much of the summer working hard alongside her teammates, improving skills and working to build off the previous season. 

"I am looking forward to starting this season's journey with my teammates." Doner said. "I spent time this summer working on my speed, quickness and confidence. By deciding to stay in Madison during the summer, I not only had the opportunity to take classes, but also to workout with my teammates whenever I wanted. When I came in last year, I was nervous and played in fear of making a mistake. Now, after a year of competitive play and another summer of hard work, my confidence has increased and I feel like I'm using my speed and playing the way I can to create opportunities." 

Doner summed up the attitude of the entire squad heading into this weekend: excited, prepared, and confident. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena. We hope to see a packed building, as this weekend is the beginning of our journey to great things this season.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: An action-packed weekend

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It seems like every post I write about how exciting a time the team has had; only to trump the last post with the new one...well this time is no different. The UW women's hockey team had nothing short of a fun packed time this past weekend during our team bonding event a few miles out of town. 

After the premier of Grey's Anatomy watched by a majority of the team on the big screen in our locker room Thursday night, we had a nice spa recovery day on Friday to prepare us for the harsh battle to come Saturday morning. At 9 a.m. Saturday, the players piled in to cars and headed out to a paintball facility, where we played six games of paintball. Coach Johnson, Paul Hickman, seniors and freshmen were on one team, and the rest of the staff, juniors, and sophomores were on the other. The tournament of six games had a rocky start for the senior and freshman team, as we quickly fell to the other squad in the first speed ball game, and the second that took place in a trenched fort. The third game showed patience from my senior squad however, and we made it a 2-1 game as we captured the castle and held our ground for the three minutes required. 

After the third game, Coach Johnson had enough, and headed to the sidelines. He was an asset for our team, but after his departure our team rallied to sweep the final three games. We took the castle again, and defeated the juniors and sophomores in the painful game of double shot elimination. We had a few players with happy triggers, so we went through about ten boxes of paint. Luckily for the senior led team, Paul Hickman carried some extra hoppers so we were never low on ammo. 


The MVP of the paintball tournament would have to be sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke. Although junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, pictured above covered in pink paint, took a fair beating and put up a good fight, Courtney got pelted with about 15 paintballs simultaneously from a good 15 feet away. She wobbled a bit and may have fallen to the ground, but she rallied and played on. There was some question of sportsmanship and the twenty-foot surrender rule, but the senior/freshman squad was simply trying to defend the castle, and made a good judgment call in my opinion to win the game. (Sorry Court!)

After a solid two and a half hours of paintball, we headed out to Coach Johnson's for the annual team BBQ. It was a blast as always, and the food was spectacular as Coach is a master-griller, Coach Jackie Friesen is also a great cook, as we all think was Martha Stewart (with organic recipes of course) in her previous life, so there were a wide variety of goodies to choose from. Coach Jackie showed up with a dessert that looked like it hopped off the page of a cooking magazine. It was a combination of homemade gingerbread, homemade whipped cream, and homemade pumpkin pudding, and it was delicious! 


The BBQ also is the location of the competitive team volleyball tournament. There are no real rules other than having seniors win, so naturally the seniors (shown above) took the title after defeating the freshmen by a ten point spread in the first game and handily defeating the juniors in the championship, 25-0. The MVP of the volleyball tournament is tough to decide on, but I think it would have to be a tie between senior goaltender Ilana Friedman and myself. Senior Natalie Berg had a mighty serve, and Kelly Jaminski's height was a major asset as well. Alex Rigsby was fantastic all over the grass court, but there is no denying that Ilana and I really stepped up big and helped our team secure the victory.

 In a post game interview with Alex Rigsby, she stated she was a bit upset with freshmen officials Sarah Nurse and Sydney McKibbon, as well as head official Courtney Burke, but when asked to comment on their apparent bias during the match, the officials declined to give a quote. Non the less, the seniors stepped up and won the championship, making the Saturday bonding all the more memorable for our class. 

Sunday was a relaxing off day for the group, as we took our team picture and many participated in a walk that junior Brittany Ammerman was active and passionate about promoting. It was a walk around the capital that promoted the end of GYN cancers, and was a success! 


Also, junior forward Katy Josephs and myself volunteered to help out with the Timberwolves hockey team practice at Madison Ice Arena. It was a collection of players from around the Madison area, and it was a great experience. Both these events were awesome for all involved, and I speak for the group when I say we are always humbled and appreciative when we are able to give back to a community that has always been supportive of our endeavors. 

Overall, it was a great weekend, and a great way to head into the week in preparation for Minnesota State. The group is enthusiastic, positive, and excited for what the future holds as we prepare to embark on our journey through the season. The preseason has been great, but now the work begins, and we are ready to go! 

Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!


Packer's Perspective: First step for the Badgers

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Monday night was full of excitement and I want to thank all the fans who came out and supported the Badgers in our first showing of the season. Congratulations to Brittany Ammerman in her first game back since being out for almost the entire season last year, and also to the freshmen Ann Renee Desbiens, Sydney McKibbon, Sarah Nurse, and Mellissa Channell on their first game as Badgers. 

The freshies proved to be a solid fit for us from the crease all the way to the offensive zone and we look forward to having them contribute this season. The freshmen were also happy with the way their first game went, and were thrilled with having their first experience finally here. 


"It was an amazing feeling being able to put on the Wisconsin jersey and play in my first game," Sydney McKibbon said.  "I was surprised stepping out on the ice and seeing all the fans that were there to support us and cheer us on. I was definitely a little nervous at first but once our line settled in it was such a fun game. I can't wait to play next weekend in our first season game against Minnesota State." 

McKibbon's good friend, and roommate, freshman defenseman Mellissa Channell had similar emotions.

"Stepping on the ice the first time was incredible," Channell said. "You could feel how high the energy was in the building. The first couple shifts I was a little nervous, but having such a supportive team that feeling went away. Now that I have the first game under my belt I can't wait to get the season going, and begin the journey with the team." 

One freshman the fans may not know yet, is Jenny Ryan. However, this is a name you will want to familiarize yourself with as she too is sure to be an asset for us this year on defense. Jenny is set to return to the ice with us soon and is excited for her college career to begin.

 "I'm looking forward to putting the jersey on for the first time and feeling the excitement of being with the team," Ryan said. "I'm expecting to be a little bit nervous seeing that I haven't played in a while and this is a little bit different than what I am used to playing, but I think that once I get out there I will be too excited to be nervous and it will be a lot of fun."

 I couldn't agree more with Jenny as it will be a lot of fun to have her out there with us and we look forward to the depth that will accompany her as she takes her place back in the line up!

The team had a great showing all around, especially considering we only had two practices against our belt to prepare for a team we have never seen before. We were moving the puck well, communicating with one another, and accomplished our team goal of playing together for a solid 60 minutes. The team was happy with our first performance, but also will use this as a learning tool as we prepare to kick off our WCHA season next weekend against Minnesota State. 

With the motivation of the regular season in mind, we went right back at it Tuesday, competing in a high level practice to try and simulate a game weekend in our typical schedule. We had a good on ice session with the coaches and then hit the weight room to improve our fitness and agility off the ice. Wednesday will be used as a recovery day. Some hot and cold tub contrast, and the ladies are looking forward to reopening the sauna that is an always a good place to relax and socialize. 

This week will finish off with us back on the ice Thursday and Friday, and then we will head out for a team bonding activity Saturday. The team bonding this year is paintball...with a competitive group like the one we have, I am anxious to see how it goes. The coaches also participate in this activity and it's always fun when Coach Johnson starts firing paintballs at you like Rambo! The paintball activity is one we have done in the past and is a fun change of pace from our typical on ice endeavors. 

Following paintball, we will have our annual team BBQ. This is a much anticipated event, especially for the seniors since the volleyball tournament that takes place each year is always won by the senior class (not saying its rigged or anything). The BBQ is a fun time to hang out, relax, eat some good food, and cheer on the Badger football team as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This weekend is a nice way to close out the preseason before we hit it hard next week in preparation for Minnesota State. We have a hard working group, with various assets across the board, and are anxious to start the season together. We have a long journey ahead of us, but the positivity and mentality of our group thus far is looking to be a major bonus as we head into the year. Thank you to all the fans who have supported us, and those who came out Monday to cheer us on. We kick off the regular season on Friday, October 4th at 7 p.m. against the Mavericks and hope all who can make it will come out to support us on our journey. Thanks for reading.

On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: The excitement continues

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Hey followers! It was a big weekend for the Wisconsin women's hockey team, full of excitement and activity. We were introduced on the football field Saturday as the football guys took on and defeated Purdue, and were joined by Team Japan, our opponent for the game Monday.

 I also had the privilege of sitting on the patio with a few fans from the Children's Hospital. This was an amazing experience. I am always humbled when meeting these young kids who take on life with such courage. They were so full of life and happy to be there watching the game and cheering the Badgers on, despite the battles many of them face on a daily basis in their own lives. These kids are such and inspiration and it was a great experience for me to get to know them. I want to thank them for coming out and supporting Badger athletics and wish them luck and the best as they continue on the road to lead healthy lives.


There was another exciting moment at the Badger game this weekend for those who did not attend. Army Captain Jane Renee "JR" Lund has been stationed in southern Afghanistan for the last several months, but was able to return home sooner than her anticipated October arrival and surprise her daughter Bella on the field during an intermission. This reunion was one that brought fans to their feet, roaring praise and applaud from the student section, and left several people in joyful tears (including myself). It was a beautiful reunion to witness, and I want to thank Captain Jane Renee for her service. It was an emotional reunion on the field, and one that touched the hearts of many as we stood by watching. I am grateful for Captain Lund and all she has done to serve our country, and wish her and her daughter nothing but the best as they catch up on life that has passed while she was away.
Along with these exciting moments, the Badgers took the ice for our first two official practices of the season. It was great to finally be able to kick off the year. The tempo was high, faces were smiling, and the coaches put us right to work. We went over a number of things to prepare us for the game against Japan, and it was great to get back into the swing of things after a long summer of training and conditioning. Monday night we will see just what our summer training has done as we gear up to face Japan in our first match of the 2013-14 season. I encourage all those who have time to come out and support us, admission is free, and it is sure to be a great experience as playing a national team is not something that happens often! I hope all had a great weekend, perhaps just as exciting as that of the Wisconsin women's hockey team, and we hope to see you out at LaBahn as we take on Team Japan! Check the blog in the days following the game as I will have a post filled with after thoughts and reactions to our first game as a team!

Until then, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Back to the ice

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The time is drawing near and the anticipation of the season is beginning to make some of us restless. We have been on the ice a few times, not in full go practice yet as there are rules and regulations that we have to follow, but the team couldn't be more excited to open up at home next Monday against Team Japan. This weekend is set to be a fun one, with the football guys returning back to Camp Randall to play Purdue, and we get announced on the field, which is always a highlight of the year!!
Things have been pretty quiet for us as girls settle into their class schedules, and get ready for the season to begin. The focus and commitment of the team is awesome! We just completed our series of preseason tests, consisting of numerous off-ice strength and conditioning tests, along with the dreaded on-ice shuttles, but the girls rallied together and killed it!

The team has been busy breaking in new gear, and putting the final touches on personal preferences as we prepare for the season to be underway. Our director of ops Paul Hickman had a bit of a scare when freshman, Sarah Nurse, attempted to put black tape on the knob of her stick (a huge no no) but she was straightened out and Paul was able to maintain his sanity.

The first round of exams are just around the corner for some of us, as crazy as it seems. In two weeks or so, about the time of our first regular season home game, many of us will already have one exam under our belt! Whether it be exams, practices, or the quality down time, life is good for the Badgers in Madison. We are excited to head into the weekend and prepare for the upcoming game against Team Japan! Hope to see all those who can make it at LaBahn Arena at 7 p.m. Monday night!

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!


Packer's Perspective: Back to school

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The time is finally here! The first day of class, we are all so excited to be back in school...On a more enthusiastic note, the team is geared up and ready to hit the ice for the first time together as a squad in the 2013-14 season in the upcoming weeks. As summer came to an end we had a few barbeques as a group, enjoying the outdoors, and the above average grilling skills of senior goaltender, Ilana Friedman. 

We also appeared as the guest team at the first Badgerville of the 2013 Wisconsin football season. After a few onstage words from myself, and motivation for what is to come from junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, a number of us put on our festive Badger apparel, and headed to Camp Randal to cheer our fellow Badgers on to the football team's first win of the season over UMass. It was a fun weekend, and the first Jump Around of the year is always a great tradition to take part in.

Labor Day was spent at the Friedman's home in Middleton, where we relaxed in their amazing garden, complements of Ms. Friedman herself. We enjoyed everything from brats and burgers, to five star chicken marinated by sophomore defenseman, Courtney Burke.

The first day of classes is always crazy, our freshman were pretty good about not getting lost on their first day, but you can always count on someone to go to her Monday classes on Tuesday, and this year it was SENIOR Ilana Friedman...she will learn, just may take graduating to get there. My schedule is pretty prime, no classes too early, and not an overwhelming load, but for the engineers in the group such as juniors Katy Josephs and Katarina Zgraja and sophomore Jorie Walters, the class schedule feels a bit more overwhelming I would assume. Classes are a just starting to kick off and it should be a fun semester as everyone seems pretty comfortable and confident about their course load!

The group is a pretty special squad this season, and every get together is full of laughter and inside jokes. The team is motivated and ready to go to work this season, and can't wait to see the fans out at our first game against Japan in just a few weeks! Now that the season is gearing up, the blog will be updated more frequently, and will include a behind the scene look at what this Badger squad is doing on our journey to the top this season! Until next time, On Wisconsin!



Last week was one for the record books. We were overwhelmed with move out, finals, and packing up to head home for some much anticipated down time before things gear up for training camp to kick off the new season. The summer has flown by for most of us here on the women's hockey team. The semester began back in June, and we were instantly bombarded with materials to be covered between June 17th and August 9th. Most of the team stuck around for the summer, taking classes and hanging out around town in the off time. We had a lot of fun here in Madison and as a group we are excited to head into next season and go to work.

A quick recap of the summer is somewhat impossible, but some of the highlights would be the slue of birthdays we celebrated as a group, a Brewers game (the first for a few including myself and the freshies Jenny Ryan and Sydney McKibbon), a visit to Alpine for the Dave Matthews concert, and when we weren't off doing fun activities such as these, we could often be found laying out on the Kohl Center lawn or soaking up the atmosphere of the Monona terrace.


Another event that took place was a goodbye party for one of our own, Brianna Decker, who is making her way out to Boston to train for the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. We are so proud of her, and all those representing the Badger family, and cannot wait to watch them on NBC Sports come February. Go get 'em girls!

After completing my final day of class, I loaded up the car, after packing up my apartment, and headed to the airport to fly home to Birmingham, Michigan. My flight was only delayed three hours this time, but I finally made it. After spending my first weekend back at home playing some pick up with my old man, I just finished a six-day boat trip with my family to Mackinac Island, the North Channel, and the Benjamin Islands. It is a family tradition, and I am excited to finish the summer off with the loving family that has been there for me through it all.


In less than two weeks I will return to Madison to join my teammates, continuing our journey in preparation for next season. This summer has been a blast, and I cannot wait for what the future holds! Until next time, enjoy the last few days of your summers as well, and tune in for the next post! Thanks for reading.

On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Blog: Packer's Perspective

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Hey hockey fans! My name is Madison Packer and I am a senior on the Badgers women's hockey team. I am an English and creative writing major here at Wisconsin, and one of my passions along with hockey, is writing. This season I am teaming up with our athletic communications staff and my fellow Badgers to bring you a look at life as a member of the women's hockey team. I will be posting a blog, to keep fans and followers in the loop about games, activities and life in general for myself and my teammates. The blog will consist of game and practice information, behind the scenes experiences, and video interviews with my teammates on aspects related to our season and life away from the rink.

My intention with this blog is to inform fans about the players, and give you a look at the girl behind the mask. There will be opportunities for you to post to my blog and have questions answered by a Badger, updates about life on the road, and first hand reflections post game from the point of view of a player. The blog will be monitored and updated every week, several times, and will be the most accurate and reliable way to keep up with the team. I am looking forward to this opportunity and reaching out to the fans who have been supportive of our program over the years!

Stay tuned for the first official post, as I will report on the summer life we have been living these last eight weeks in Madison! The first blog will be packed with information from over the summer, and is something you won't want to miss. On Wisconsin!

Ammerman in Africa: Final Update

Tasha and I with Dorcas, one of the grandmothers from our homestay

What a week!

We finished teaching the health promoter women, and one Maasai man, on Wednesday. They were so inspiring to teach and to watch learn!

Isack, the Maasai man, really fascinated me because Maasai is his first language, Swahili his second, and English his third. While we would teach in English, one of the women of the Nikumbuke Project would translate what was said to Swahili, but it was never translated to Maasai. Then, Isack would answer questions or make a statement and he would say it in English! How impressive. I could not believe it, especially that what he was talking about was consistently a rather complicated health topic and he was able to understand and carry a conversation about it!

One of the women making Chapati for dinner, which is a a thick flour tortilla

On Thursday, we gave the health promoters their final exam, which they needed to pass in order to become official health promoters for their villages. Each health promoter passed and even a few received a perfect score! It really reiterated to us as a group that what we were doing was truly making a difference and that our teaching had gone extremely well.

Friday was our last official day working with the health promoters. We designated Friday to a Domestic Violence Workshop and shared knowledge about domestic violence in relation to physical health and mental health. Although we were nervous at first to discuss such a taboo topic in Kenya, we were relieved when the women began to open up about their experiences and even Isack was interested in learning ways to begin to put an end to domestic violence in their villages.

It was an emotional day but also an extremely rewarding day. Because the women were able to tell us their personal experiences regarding such a triggering topic, we were able to feel how deeply we have connected with them over the past couple of weeks and the lifelong relationship that has been created.

Our last full day in the Lunga Lunga village was on Saturday. There was a huge celebration for Health by Motorbike and the Nikumbuke Project, with our group as the guests of honor. Women of Lunga Lunga were up all night preparing food for the celebration. The entire night was spent laughing -- for hours straight -- with no care in the world!

The morning of the celebration the Maasai arrived on a red pickup truck, standing in the bed packed up like little sardines, with the radio blasting as they danced the entire way! Over 300 women attended, with seven villages present and two Maasai tribes. Personally, I think the women of these villages should have been the guests of honor due to their aura, eagerness to learn, continual happiness each day and for what they have taught us.

The celebration lasted five hours, four of which consisted of nonstop dancing and singing, no exaggeration!

Each village performed their own song and dance for us as a welcome and performed another to present us with gifts. For these villages to all present us with gifts was truly heartwarming. Each of these villages in Eastern Kenya suffer from extreme poverty, barely earning enough money to feed their families, and here they were smiling, dancing, yelling and giving us gifts to say thank you. It truly represented how big their hearts were and how thankful they were to have us as guests in their homes over the past two weeks.

The Maasai driving into Lunga Lunga for our celebration day on Saturday

Not only did each village perform, but we performed as a group for them! Although our voices were not as beautiful as theirs, probably more tone deaf than anything, they loved our performance. We did our own dance and song to Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. (Maybe I will post the video later, but I will give fair warning, you may want to mute the volume to save your ears from our highly untalented voices).

At the end of the celebration, we presented each health promoter with an official UW-Madison diploma to signify their graduation as a health promoter. Needless to say, there were many tears and gratifying feelings. It was such a powerful day, if only I could have captured the happiness, feeling of community and thankfulness to keep it in a jar forever.

We began our long trek back to Nairobi at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. The bus ride back took nearly 12 hours. We saw a HUGE giraffe in its natural habitat on the side of the road!

A few of the women huddled up during their review for the final exam, playing Jeopardy

For the next couple of days we will be staying at KICOSHEP again. On Monday we will be going to a baby elephant sanctuary, a giraffe sanctuary and then to a women's group in Nairobi that does beading to make jewelry.

Although this journey is coming to an end, what I have learned from the people of Kenya, especially the women I have had the opportunity to work with, will last forever. I can truly say that I have felt so at peace, in my element and so happy during this entire journey.

The only other time I have truly felt this way is while being on the ice and playing the sport I love. To have found something else to bring that kind of passion to has been life-altering and exciting. My sport has allowed me to feel this passion and this journey has allowed me to learn how to put forth that passion to help others and be the change that I wish to see in the world.

This trip has also taught the effect a single smile can have on a person and their heart. Although we did not speak Swahili very well, we were able to learn how much a smile, the simple touch of a loving hand, or the sound of laughter can impact, not only the people of Kenya, but also ourselves.

A view from Wasini Island last weekend

I am forever changed from this journey and only wish that more people get the opportunity to experience what I have. In order to see change, we must do much more than believe; we must put forth our faith, passion and knowledge to make the world a better place for all.

Thank you so much for following me during this journey! I hope I was able to share with you what I have experienced and have inspired you to find your passion and change the world through your passion!

Asante sana and hakuna matata rafikis!

Ammerman in Africa: Update Three

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!


Habari rafikis!
Sorry it has been a few days since my last post! We have been quite busy in Lunga Lunga!

On Tuesday, we took a motorbike ride to the woodcarvers just across the border towards Tanzania. These men have incredible talent! They stay in their straw mud huts 24/7 carving decorations out of wood. They make everything from little wooden zebras and elephants, to 36-inch tall giraffes, to salad bowls and tongs. You can see every single detail within the carving as well. I cannot wait to show everyone what I bought!

photoOn Wednesday we took a two-hour motorbike ride out to the Maasai. The Maasai are a very traditional Kenyan tribe who continue to isolate themselves and refuse to integrate into the village life. They wear blue, red and purple robes with big jewelry and ear piercings that they make themselves. The Maasai do not speak Swahili, but speak their own language. We were at the Maasai for almost five hours and could not interact with them by talking, because we did not know the language. However, we were able to communicate with smiles, laughter and games. I bought a soccer ball in Mombasa which I brought with me to the Maasai. We played soccer with the kids for hours, gave them candy and sang songs.

While with the Maasai, Dr. Mwangi and the rest of us were able to see 100 patients, most of which had upper respiratory infections, skin diseases and infections, and UTI’s. Around 4 p.m., the Maasai cooked for us. Our late lunch consisted of goat and rice, which you ate with your hands. It was very interesting, to say the least. The Maasai women then presented us with jewelry that they made by hand for each of us. It was a great deal that the Maasai loved us and welcomed us “mzungus” (westerners), into their home and land.

photoOn Friday night we stayed at the homes of the women we are teaching. Although we ate dinner at our camp before leaving for our homestays, the women still insisted upon cooking a feast for us. Tasha and I stayed together at grandmother Dorcas’ house just down the road from Lunga Lunga. She cooked us fish, chicken, potatoes, rice, and chipati. It was amazing!

The grandchildren performed a number of songs and dances for us also. Grandma Dorcas then gave us each a conga skirt as a gift and a thank you for visiting Kenya. She asked us to be her Rafiki and to write from America. Grandma Dorcas kept saying to us “Nikumbuke in America”, which means “Remember me in America”. We may go back and stay another night this week because we loved it so much!

Yesterday, we traveled to Diani Beach to swim in the Indian Ocean. We took the 14 women we are teaching with us to the beach. It was their first time in the ocean and at the beach! There were so many smiles and so much laughter the entire day! We stayed in the water for hours and had an absolute blast.

One of the women said to me, “I am so happy. Today is for me. Not for my husband. Not for my children. Not for my family. Today is for me. Thank you so much”. It truly blessed my heart! To be able to participate in this journey has been amazing and to be able to make so many people smile has been such an amazing feeling and experience.

photoYesterday we had a break in the teaching, educating and sharing of knowledge amongst the women. Our group from Wisconsin took a trip to Wasini Island where we were given a tour of the caves in which slaves were kept in before being shipped to Mombasa during the African Slave Trade. We then toured Wasini Island, which is an island off the coast of Kenya that is inhabited by people, but has no running water, electricity, or farming. We were also able to get American food for lunch at a restaurant in one of the beach towns near Wasini Island. That food was much needed after two weeks of rice, beans, and cabbage at every meal!

We began teaching the women on Thursday. It seems to be going well. On Thursday we taught anatomy, on Friday we taught pregnancy and maternal health, and today (Monday) Tracey and I taught nutrition.

It went extremely well- all the women loved how interactive our nutrition lesson was. After the morning session, the women thanked Tracey and I for being such great teachers and told us multiple times how much they learned from us. They seem very excited to bring the information they have learned about nutrition back to their communities and villages. I think they are most enthusiastic about our lesson because it pertains to something they do every single day, multiple times a day -- cooking.

photoWe are so thrilled that our teaching is going well and we are able to educate these women and also learn from them as we teach!

This last week will be very busy and a bit stressful with all the teaching we must get done, but it is truly amazing to be able to share knowledge with these women and know that we are making a difference. It is hard to write every detail in these posts because so much has happened! But I hope I am able to share a taste of what we are doing here in Kenya and am able to briefly touch on all the activities and experiences we are encountering.
Until next time,
Hakuna Matata Rafikis!