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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Monday, 17 Jul 2006

Location: Arusha, Tanzania


I thought I would backtrack a bit and fill you in on things since my last entry in Kigali.

We left Rwanda last Thursday and stopped in to see the memorial site in Kigali on the way to the airport. We had no idea what it would be like and did not allow ourselves enough time to see everything. There is something like 350,000 people buried there in mass burial crypts, one of which was open so you could see the coffins stacked haphazardly inside. The coffins had the remains of around ten or so people each in them. The memorial is really something; full of so much information about the genocide.

Following the tour of the memorial, we flew to Nairobi and had a wait there. There was a bit of a screwup and two of the girls couldn't get on the next plane. They had to spend the night there and the rest of us went on to Arusha. We spent the evening trying to repack the suitcases that we had left there with all of the gifts for the Fosterkids. The next morning we flew to Mwanza. There were 2 vehicles waiting there for us, so 3 of the crew left to go and visit one of the kids that lived in a different area. Joanna and I stayed with another driver and a WV staff member from Shinyanga. We had to wait for 4 hours until the remaining two girls that had missed the plane, showed up. The driver suggested that we rent a boat and cruise out to an island that we could see in the distance. It was absolutely beautiful in Mwanza. The hills are covered in huge boulders of all sizes, some as big as a small apartment building. Everything is green. The island we went to used to be a wildlife conservation area but is almost deserted. There was a few gazelle running around, an old pathetic looking hyena, two cages of parrots and a lion in another cage. It was really sad to see these animals living this way, neglected, in filthy cages. None of them had any water or food that we could see. I had a water bottle and fed the lion like it was a baby bottle. There was a man living there and we asked him to get us more water, so I fed the lion a few more water bottles and the rest of the gerry can that he'd brought me. We walked around and took a few pictures of the scenery,which was awesome. It was finally time to pick up the others, so we headed back to the airport.
The drive to Isegehe took almost 4 hours. We were quite excited to see that the road was paved, but the excitement was short- lived. The highway is a work-in -progress and for most of the way we drove beside it, criss-crossing back and forth over it. That didn't stop our driver from travelling between 90-110km/hour the whole way there. It was a very bumpy, stressful drive. We arrived quite late and the WV staff were quite disappointed as they had a half-day of tours planned for us. We did go to visit a farmer that was growing drought-resistant cassava crops and it turned out that that was the home of your foster-child Barb!! I got a picture of the family and their house. They had waited all day for us and I felt bad that we couldn't stay long. We were then taken to the local "Guest House". It was a good place to take the guests that you don't want to see again. We were served our "dinner" at 11:00 that night and told they would be back for us at 6:45.
After a very sleepless night, (we listened to the chanting of the local Muslims from 4:00am on), we headed out to visit more of the locals programs around the ADP.
The party for the children was held at a local hall. They started to arrive around 9:30 in the morning, usually with one of their parents. It was a very chaotic time trying to interview all of them with translators, take all the right pictures and spend time with everyone. I did meet all of them and got as much informtion for all of you as I could. It was just great seeing all of them and especially spending time with my sponsored child, Mary. She was so sweet, holding my hand and staring at me all of the time. The parents of all of the children were so grateful that their kids were sponsored. They thanked us over and over and we were blessed so many times I lost count. It was worth the long trip and it was very hard to say good-bye to all of them. Matt, your boy Hamis is just wonderful. I told him all about you and besides the shirt with his name on, I gave him one I had made with the word 'Courage' on it. I told him that his sponsor was one of the most courageous people I know and that he could think about that when he wore that shirt. He was so impressed and said that he was very proud to have you as his sponsor. All of our kids were so great, I will fill you all in when I see you.
There was this one litle guy who didn't have a sponsor yet. He was one of the ones that I had invited to get extra pictures of, for when he was sponsored. He stuck to me like glue and he really stood out as a special kid. He wanted a picture of me because all of the sponsored kids were getting pictures. I told him that I would get one of my good friends to sponsor him and we would send another picture of that sponsor and I together so he would know that we were friends. He said good-bye to me over & over until our vehicle finally pulled away. It was really touching.
I can't stress enough how much it means to these kids to be sponsored and how important it is to them to get any sort of mail. Even if it's just a post card, they are absolutely thrilled. A lot of these kids don't have any possessions, so everything we send is all they have. They are like celebraties to their friends if they receive a number of letters and cards. It's such a small thing for us to do and it makes those kids so happy!!! No to mention the way their lives change with the sponsorship $$$. Almost every good thing that is going on in any of the ADPs that we visited is backed by World Vision.
We piled into our two vehicles for the long journey back to the airport in Mwanza. Our drivers were driving like bats out of hell and my driver ran through a piece of twine that some highway workers were apparently holding. We didn't really realize that; we just noticed that there was this piece of twine stuck on our side mirror. Joeseph opened his window and unhooked it and it flew off. A little way down the road, there was a vehicle parked accross blocking the way. It was one of the guys from the road crew who said that we had hurt someone when we drove through the rope. None of us had even noticed. Anyway, there was a real scene with both of the drivers from our vehicles and the road crew people. They would not let us go. They wanted our driver to drive back to the next town and report the whole thing to the police. We had a plane to catch so we had to put all of our luggage into one vehicle and the nine of us piled in. The rest of the trip was gruelling. We didn't get to the hotel in Arusha until almost 10:30 that night.

It's Monday night here in Arusha. Joanna, Julia and I went shopping after our hike. We found a really great market, a lot like the ones that you find in Mexico. We had a lot of fun dickering with the shop keepers and I bought some great stuff.
Tomorrow, we are going to watch the Rwanda Genocide Tribunals that are going on in Arusha right now. If you want to sit in and listen, you just have to show the guards your passport and from Monday to Thursday it is open to the public. The testimony is all in English. It should be interesting after all I've seen in Rwanda concerning the genocide.

Well off to bed for's great to be able to keep in contact again. I'll write tomorrow if all goes well.
Take care all.....Kwa Heri.