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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 16 Feb 2008

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapPlanet Ranger Feb 16th

Today, Saturday, we headed to Sangilwa to the first of the schools to receive the soccer Jerseys and balls. We were greeted by crowds of cheering school children who had come in on their day off for the ‘big game.” We were told that this school had not had a soccer ball for over a year so they were just beside themselves with excitement. The boys here play “football’ (soccer) and the girls play a game called netball (which is like basket ball without the bounce.) I was really excited to see that since they live so close, Jamary and a lot of his family were also here. His sister is on the netball team so I got some good shots of her.
Besides the school kids, some of the local younger children were there and the smallest little girls were carrying babies on their back. Their mothers are tending crops and they are responsible for looking after their siblings. Some of these ‘babysitters’ don’t look older than five or six. It’s just amazing to see how these kids here cope with all they are faced with in their lives.
Close to the school is the new teachers quarters and a dispensary that were both built by WV. We toured these and talked with the community leaders at the dispensary. This clinic will serve over 20,000 people but we were told that there is never enough medication to go around.
We visited two more schools that also received balls and jerseys and were greeted by cheering crowds of children. An exhibition game was played at each school. Soccer balls are so important over here that attendance at the school is higher when they have a ball since none of the children have anything like that at home. The kids were in awe of us and the WV staff let us know that for many of them, this was the first time they had seen a “mzungu.” This place is so remote, and with no airports or cities close by, the children have no exposure to outsiders.
At the Kidunyashi Primary School some of the children were busy working on their letters to the Youth Group kids from the Summerland Pentecostal Church. I took a picture of each child, with their letter so you will see who your new pen pals are!!!
We went to the visit the Faraja Orphanage Care Group next. These very dedicated volunteers saw a need to create an organization to offer support to orphaned children (some of who are HIV) who are living with relatives and other family members. They offer the children counselling, support, food services, spiritual teaching, school supplies, medical care and they have a mentorship program. The do not promote full time orphanages here because they feel that the children are psychologically damaged by this type of arrangement. We arrived to the sound of singing and as we came through the banana grove there was this big bosomed, smiling Tanzanian woman who looked like Aunt Jemima dancing with a crowd of clapping children around her. Shortly after we arrived a big rainstorm rolled in and we crowed under a little tinned roof supported by poles. We made our introductions and learned more about the program while the rain hammered down on the roof and thunder roared around us. We were about 10 adults and 35+ kids and all of the people on the outside were getting soaked as the wind blew the rain sideways. The kids were crammed against us, tripping over each other in an attempt to get closer. They were so affectionate with each other, little kids holding littler ones and kids pulling the small ones from behind and putting them on front of them. The rain did not let up like it usually does during such a heavy downpour. The kids on the outside near me were cuddling close to get warm, it was quite a bonding experience we shared, under that little shelter, together like that. We finally figured that someone had to make a move, I decided to “take one for the team” and volunteered to make a run for the Land Rover and get the umbrellas. The water here doesn’t sink into the red clay so the puddles were huge. I found a big, yellow rain coat in there also so used that to make the next two trips to bring the gifts we were giving to the organization. By now the group had crowded into a little 10x10 mud room where they accepted the gifts of clothes, teddy bears and money that we presented to them. They were cheering and clapping and then the singing began again. It was an emotional time for everyone and there were a few tears flowing in the room. A lot of the children were shivering with cold since so many of them were wet. We wished we had enough new, warm clothes to give everyone.
We eventually had to take our leave and headed to the ADP office for “lunch.” Guess what we had??? Yep. Luckily this would be the last time we would have to eat this meal here. We had a meeting with the WV staff to discuss how the week went and then made plans for the few last things that we still had to do on Monday.
We went out for the big Saturday night in Kahama to the Marine Hotel for dinner with Simon (WV) and his wife, Della. We had heard that this was the best bet for getting palatable food in this town and that there might actually be some “mzungus” there. There were a couple of old Croatian miners but they didn’t know English and that was it. There are no menus and our choices were chicken bones, beef, rice and cooked banana. Upon further negotiation we managed to get some “Tanzanian salad,” and also cooked cabbage with our rice. Wendy and I were brave (and desperate) enough to try a tiny bowl of the beef and it wasn’t bad. I finally got to use the phrase, “Mbili Kili baridi tafidhili.” (which means “Two, cold Kili beer please.”) I had wanted to say that in a real African bar for a long time! While we were there, I took Wendy’s headlamp and ventured off to use the pit toilet. This was not pleasant and I thought again of all the things we take for granted at home!!!!
We didn’t stay at the ‘bar’ long as we were all exhausted from the busy week so headed back and, since the Internet was still down, headed to bed.