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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Monday, 19 Sep 2011

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapMonday, September 19th, 2011

Today we went down to the immigration office to sort out our visa problems. Underneath our Tanzania stamp the officer at the border had written that we were to check in first thing Monday morning. We would require proof that we had done so when we crossed back into Rwanda.

The stony-faced officer told us that we needed special visas if we were to volunteer here and said they would be $200 each. After a lot of dialog and long silences while he looked at us and then our documents, I played the Major Matala card telling him that we were his guests. I said I would like to talk to him about this problem before we went any further. I also asked the officer to define what is observing and what is volunteering as we would be quite happy to let Dr Subi do all of the work in the crate and then just visit the recipients. He finally relented and gave us what we needed to present at the border when we leave.

Next we had a visit with Major Matala and gave him our gifts. I asked about going to the mine and he said he would arrange that as well as have us over to his house to meet the rest of his family. We’re looking forward to hearing from soon.

We then headed over to the hospital to see what was in the crate, sort and make plans for the rest of the contents. We soon learned that nothing had been distributed and it looked like the crate was almost full. We were told that some of the boxes had been taken to the stores area at the hospital. We were given a crew of four to assist us and started to empty the crate, putting signs up outside showing where each category would be placed. After working there for awhile, I went to the stores area and to check things out and realized that it wasn’t just medical items that had been brought here, it was a mixture of everything. We had to move boxes, then sort, leaving the medical items in the rooms and pile everything outside to carry around to the other side of the building where our crate was. I couldn’t believe how many boxes had to be moved from the hospital, there were hundreds and we had thought the crate looked full! There were about 300 medical boxes pulled out of the crate that had to be moved back to stores so we would haul a load to the crate and then take a load back to the hospital. We recruited more help and worked non-stop for the day.

The young men working with us were amazing. We were told that they have no jobs and worked for food. They normally hang out by the tree we always pass at the fork of the road near the hospital. They worked so hard all day and never complained a bit. I think our helpers were impressed by how hard we mzungus worked also. There wasn’t much to buy them to eat but we did get fruit and water from vendors near the hospital. We later gave them each an Ironman shirt and hat and a big water jug.

About half way throughthe day, I felt like I couldn’t lift another box but we had to finish as we had to have everything locked up securely when we left. The crate became so hard to work in as we filled it so we decided to take all of the World Vision totes and the Moshi boxes to the Resthouse. That took a few trips in a vehicle!

Later, as we looked at the pile (and the weight) of the books Karen and I have to take on the bus across the country, we were a little intimidated. Especially after our Rwanda to Kahama experience! Berit (our new friend from Germany) told us a little about her trip over the same road two weeks previously. She used phrases like, “Where they were driving, there wasn’t even a road!” and “I had to shut my eyes because I was so scared!” She also mentioned a bus accident on that road a few days before her trip in which there were 2-3 people killed. I’d like to think, if they just had a bad accident maybe they’re driving slower! Anyway…we will negotiate our passage tomorrow and then leave on Sunday morning for Moshi!

Jackson….my high of the day was Rob playing his guitar in the other room while I wrote this… (I thought about you!) And my low has been all of the mosquitoes in my room tonight!

More to come……