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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Friday, 15 Feb 2008

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

Map(Internet has once again been down for a couple of days so I am back dating these. I have not yet managed to upload any pictures onto this site but will try agin when we get back to Kigali.)

Today, Friday, was another long day (11 hours)….everything always takes so much longer than you think…even the WV guys joke about “Africa Time!” We have so many child visits to cover, they’ve decided to split us up. MJ will be in one truck and Wendy and I in the other. We will change part way through the day. The other girls will post their visits here on PR also.
Before heading out this morning we went out to buy the bike that “Carolyn from Calgary” wanted us to get for her sponsored child, Amosi. Buying a bike is quite the process here in Tanzania. They don’t come fully assembled, that happens after you finally agree on a price, then they charge you extra to put it together. Altogether it cost 97,000TZS, which is about $90USD. While we were waiting, Wendy, Joshua (WV) and I went to the market to buy some fresh produce to give out with the stuff we had brought previously. We had to walk a few blocks through the Kahama gauntlet, fight off the flies in the open market and then had to carry everything back to the truck. We then headed for Sangilwa Village.
The first child we saw there was Issa-Hamid who is Angie’s mom’s child. Cute little guy…has great aspirations of becoming a truck driver when he gets older. They gave us three cobs of corn to take home; we were excited about having something different for dinner tonight.
Ruth, we saw your child, Magonga next. He lives with his great-grandmother. After his father left, his mother deserted the children. The grandmother’s health is poor so that is a concern, as the children wouldn’t have anywhere to go if something happened to her. I gave them money for clothes (from you) for everyone in the family and a school uniform for Maganga.
Scott, we went to see Jamery next and what a reception!!! They had a huge mat outside the house with furniture set up outside and plastic flowers on the table. All of their relatives were there along with neighbours. Everyone was so excited to see us. We had a lot of fun. I could’ve stayed there all day!!
Marj, Sozi lives just a couple huts down from Jamary so I’m sure they must be friends. His father died and mother deserted him so he lives with his grandmother, his aunt and her two young children, his two teenage uncles and sister Mary. These grandmothers are especially amazing. So many of them have single-handedly taken on the care of their grandchildren along with the responsibilities they already had. Ever one yof these families is so wonderfully unique and interesting; I wish we had more time to get to know them better!
We headed back to the ADP office for our yummy cold fries, wieners and chicken bones. We gave up pretending that we were eating the “chicken” and then trying to camouflage it before throwing it away. We now just pile it in one or two of the containers and then give it away to a family. We decided to give MJ a break and she joined me for the afternoon. It's hard to be in the other vehicle alone with the guys as they forget that to speak English and it makes for a long day for whoever is riding with them.
After visiting one of my kids, Ansbert, we saw Sean’s little guy Gogfrey next. What a great little family! They asked lots of questions about Canada and were so interested in everything we had to say. His dad had bought a bike three years before and was telling us how this has changed his life. When they can use it to go to the market, which is 6 km away and to get water, etc, it really drastically changes how much they can get done in a day. He said that it took him years to save up for it because a bike costs as much as a years crop. Everyone we met so far has told us that they produce only enough crops to feed their families and never have enough extra to sell. They are literally living hand to mouth and if they have a bad crop, they go hungry. They also tell us that the soil is exhausted and the crops are not growing well without fertilizer. Nobody here composts so we’ve been really pushing it with the WV guys to spread the word. Composting here would also help in other ways. It would keep their yards cleaner and that would keep the swarms of flies down.
At the end of the day we met with a group of people living with HIV/AIDS that have formed an association called “Matumaini” which means ‘Hope.” There are currently 448 people in the group who receive counselling, are taught life skills and good nutrition (which you need in order to take ARV’s.) They are campaigning and encouraging others to come forward and get tested. They do home based care for the extremely ill people living with AIDS, supply to nursing mothers so that they don’t pass the virus onto their babies. This group is run and funded by WV and has many other elements to it. So far 202 members have passed away.
We finally headed home exhausted looking forward to some down time as we opted not to eat with our companions. In the culinary department, things are really digressing. Wendy and I went into our favourite “supermarket” and bought some canned corned beef and bread for dinner. We are sitting here gnawing on cattle corn, given to us by a ‘thankful family.’ We’re thinking it will be worth choking this stuff down if we could just have a bowl movement. MJ and I are sitting here laughing at Wendy who is outside the window trying to dodge the flying, crawling, jumping insects. She finally gave up and came in. We’re becoming a bunch of winos, it’s the only thing that we have to look forward to when they finally let us go. No one here owns a corkscrew and we are getting really good at improvising…some of the utensils here are unrecognizable, but we’ve managed to push our corks into the bottles with a technique that we have developed.
Tomorrow is going to be a great day visiting schools, a dispensary and an orphanage, we are really looking forward to seeing all the kids!!!!