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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 19 Apr 2009

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapApril 17th

It’s Saturday today and a well-deserved day off for us all. Well, all of us except Val, who is busy working on her design for the new lab at the hospital. Dr Subi will be here shortly to pick her up to go over everything.
So much has happened over the past two days that it’s hard to remember what we’ve done. I’m sure you can remember what that’s like Wendy and MJ!
The child sponsor visits on Thursday were in Sangwila. During meetings the night before, our schedule had been totally revised but when we arrived at the dispensary for a tour, there were a group of children there waiting for their party and the dispensary staff were nowhere to be seen. A very frustrating hour went by, as we tried to sort out how the day would go. To make things worse, I had grabbed one of the wrong bundles of tied-together bags for the kids so Pola had to go bake to the Resthouse to get the right one. We split into two groups, one would stay at the dispensary with the kids and one would go to a Mondo for the second party. I was at the latter visiting Paschal and Cosmos (another baby in the family Maureen, just as cute as the rest!) Shida, (another ecstatic bike recipient Marj!) Hamis, (this family is especially destitute so we used some donated money for a goat and Corinne, we bought them a bike from you.) I don’t have time to go into details about each visit but everyone was thrilled with the gifts, happy to see us and they all enjoyed the party. I also have some great footage of everyone singing for us.
We finished early and went back to the ADP. I optimistically thought that I might get back into town to use the Internet but of course things don’t work how we think they should. Earlier in the week, we had arranged to buy 5 dairy goats for the orphanage. Here it was at the end of the day, we were supposed to see them tomorrow and WV decided we should call the ladies from the orphanage and have them come over to discuss what we will be purchasing with the money. Everything was taking a long time and as it got later, I could see that we weren’t going to make it back in time to go on the Internet. I’m embarrassed to say, I was so frustrated that I ended up walking out of the office in tears. When you’re so far from home having contact with family becomes very important. Not getting enough sleep and dealing with ‘African time issues’ also adds to the stress. The decision was finally made to use the money from the Summerland Montessori School, a local boy named Jack, who donated his birthday money and Sparwood and Fernie Health Units, to purchase a small herd of ten goats. The breeding and selling of the goats will produce a self-sustained source of income for the group.
When we got back to the Resthouse, we cracked open a bottle of wine and actually sat around and visited. We haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to just sit and talk, so it was a really nice evening.

Friday morning we were meeting a group called Community Care Coalition Committee at the ADP office. This is an umbrella group that represents other Associations working mainly with women, orphans and vulnerable families. They’re a good contact for TOPP and future projects we’ll be working on here in Kahama.
We split up again and headed out for more child visits. My group party was in a small ‘hall’ in Isagehe Village. This was a fun party, lots of singing and dancing. There was a little boy named Paschali, whom we’d been searching for all week. I had met him the first year and thought that one of our group had sponsored him so we requested to see him last year. It turns out the person didn’t sponsor him but we visited him any way in 2008. His family was especially destitute so I wanted to use some donated money to buy them a bike and a goat this year as well as some food, etc. This is the family whose clothes were in rags last year and when MJ dropped off some clothes that we’d got together for them, the mom actually got down on her knees and kissed MJ’s feet. Both times I met the mom she had the biggest smile on her face every time I looked at her. The two children are so adorable. We didn’t have an ID number for him so John from WV worked tirelessly all week trying to find the family. I was so happy when they finally tracked him down and brought him to the party.
Val and Pola stayed at the ADP office for their party. Because they had only six kids, they finished up early and got the families out playing dodge ball and volleyball. Everyone had such a great time! Often families like to send a gift back for their sponsor families back in Canada. When Pola was visiting her sponsored child, Naomi, they presented her with a chicken. John explained that it is an honour for the family to give food as a gift but they suggested to the family that maybe 10 oranges would be more appropriate.
We were meeting with the Faraja Orphange next. Last year when we met, it absolutely poured so they decided we would meet in a covered area. It was a gated, roofed area with a cement floor situated between two buildings. There were two mirror balls and some big speakers so we think it doubled as a ‘disco hall’ at night. The kids all met us outside dressed in matching purple gingham dresses and shirts that the ladies from the orphanage had made for them. They all started singing and led us inside where we sat a decorated table at the front of the room. We all stood up to introduce ourselves and had a big laugh when Val, using her limited Swahili announced, “My tooth’s name is Val.” The children performed for us and then much to our surprise we were served another big helping of lunch! The goats were brought in for photos and we did the “Hokey-Pokey” for them and were on our way.
We rushed back to the ADP to meet with the HIV/AIDS group, we were late as usual. This is the group that TOPP had purchased the 6 bikes for in 2008. Many of them recognized me and came running up to hug me. They were thrilled with the five new bikes, which were donated, by the Sparwood Health Centre, Teck Mines, and JV Humphrey High School’s Social Justice Club.
Some of the girls decided to head back to the Resthouse while Pola, Val and I decided to go to the ‘Marine Hotel’ for a Baridi Kili. We stood out somewhat, being the only ‘mzungu’ women at the pub….well in town, and became a source of entertainment for the other patrons. Pola and I were having a contest to see who could get the best picture of our table, which of course, I won because she wasn’t willing to stand on the chair for her picture. The only other girls in the bar looked like hookers or waitresses. It was interesting how the waitresses tallied up what they sold by putting all of their empties into locked crates on the floor to be counted at the end of the night. We had a lot of laughs and made sure we got a safe ride home by doing a little ‘name dropping’ (Major Matala, Dr.Subi, Nesphory, etc) to our cab driver.

Saturday was our day to shop. We grabbed Sophie and headed out on the town for some fabric purchases. I don’t know how Pola will get everything she bought home! Everybody stared us at, as we made our ay down the rutted streets, stepping over puddles, mud and garbage. We weaved our way in and out of alleys, through the markets and over ditches. There isn’t a single paved road in this whole town and they are all in such bad shape that it’s hard to tell which are the main roads. It was fun negotiating over our purchases and just doing what girls do best, shop. We checked into the bus schedule for Tuesday’s trip to Mwanza and found out that it will only cost us $8.00 each for the five-hour bus ride. I hope that isn’t to indicative of the shape of the bus or amount of passengers on it. It was here that us ‘desperate-for our-men’ girls noticed the half-dressed muscle-bound African man standing in the parking lot. I did point out that he was no match for Peter’s six-pack. I think we embarrassed him with all of the stares.
We had invited a few people out to dinner so got a little dressed-up and headed down to the Pine Ridge Hotel. We were joined by Dr Subi, Major Matala, Helena, Grace and Joyce, (other medical staff from the hospital) and Nespory and his wife. We all shared a lot of laughs and had a great time getting to know each other better. Only two more days and we’ll be on our way to our next adventure!!!!!