Previous entry Next entry

Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 21 Jul 2012

Location: Kahama/Mwanza, Tanzania


Hey everybody! This week has gone by so fast I havenít had any chance to write about it! So I will try my best to remember what I did on which day!
On Monday, the teachers week started and we were all worried that not enough teachers would show up, or way too many! Luckily 30 teachers did show up and they were all very eager to see what Sheena, Erin and Heike had in store for them. Brenda, my mom and I went to the Kahama Hospital to meet Dr. Andrew and he gave us a small tour of the hospital. When I say hospital, I do not mean one big building with many floors and long hallways. Their hospital consists of a dozen or so single floor buildings spread around the grounds, being connected by concrete walk ways and metal fences. Dr. Andrew showed us the pre-natal ward, the labour ward, and the post-natal ward. Thank heavens that I didnít see anything too graphic in the labour ward, I am very happy about that Ė they deliver around 25 babies a day. We also saw two male surgical wards, two female surgical wards, and the trauma ward. Each ward holds only 14 beds and each bed is separated by shoulder height concrete walls. Here in Kahama and also many other places in Tanzania, there are a lot of traffic injuries, especially with all of the motorbikes. We walked by a little boy who had recently got into a motorbike accident and Dr. Andrews had to amputate his right leg. But it was really cool to see some of the things that The One Person Project has sent to the hospital actually being used. Anyone that comes into town has to sign a guestbook at the district commissionerís office, so... we signed two. Holy dear goodness I will never complain about waiting in a long line at a bank in Canada ever again. We literally waited for two hours in the hot bank, barely moving. Men kept cutting in front of us and other people in the line, and nobody really seemed bothered apart from the three mzunguís. We ordered dinner at around six and it didnít come until eight thirty-ish... I had ĎChicken and Cheese Pizzaí, which actually just meant chunks of chicken (I hope) with a few pieces of grated cheese on top. Since Tanzania time is slower than Rwanda time, that is all we actually did on Monday, but honestly it all takes so long to do anything around here, completing one task a day is a success.
On Tuesday, we met with Flora and Philomena from the Amani group at the hospital to have a meeting regarding the One Person Project. The Amani group is a group of children with HIV/AIDS that come to the hospital every so often to get monitored and treated if needed. They have a room where the kids can gather after their treatments to play with the other kids. Just like on Monday, it was really great to see the items we sent to them actually being used! Our meeting was to discuss what things have worked for the Amani group and what items they still really need. Flora and Philomena are both such wonderfully caring women, I wish I could have just given them both a million dollars to help them and the Amani group. Since The One Person Project and I unfortunately do not have access to millions of dollars, we gave them a small amount of donated money to temporarily help cover the costs of some of the things they need. We also gave them some money to buy two tables and a dozen or so chair for their room so the kids can have somewhere to work. In the afternoon I helped Sheena sort 35 bags full of school supplies and small gifts for an orphanage that we were going to visit on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, Brenda, Sheena and I took a car to a school in Kahama that has a class specifically for children with special needs. I gave them two puzzle mats and a hoola hoop and a few other things. There were only 4 kids there that day with special needs, usually there are nine. They are a part of a bigger school that has a lot of kids attending. Brenda and Sheena gave them a few soccer balls that the teachers seemed to enjoy more than the students. The teachers showed me their Ďkitchení where they cook the rice for the special need childrenís lunch. It was literally a room with three small fires on the ground with different pots over each one. They showed us the rice they were cooking and Brenda was jealous that it looked better than the rice we cook in Canada. I was sad that we were only able to stay at the school for about half an hour, I wish I could have stayed longer and played soccer with the kids. But we headed back to the hotel and then took a taxi to the orphanage that Sheena and her school support. All the kids were so cute and were all so happy to receive their gifts. It was funny to see the ladies that run the orphanage treat Sheena like a queen, even to the point where they kicked a very old woman out of her chair so Sheena could sit down.
On Thursday I hung out in my room in the morning and in the afternoon we went to the Amani group to see the children and how they were doing. There were about 30 kids gathered around a TV that we had donated last year, watching Arthur and coloring. There were 10 or so mothers there also that had bought their kids to the group. Flora told us that one of the mothers had been left by their husband when he found out that his two children had HIV. This makes me so upset, considering he is most likely the reason that the children have HIV. They had to go home early because one of the children had a terrible fever. There was one little boy wearing a very thick sweater and a grumpy face. Luckily I had brought some T-shirts in my backpack and I was able to give the kid a shirt, so he wouldnít be so hot. Brenda gave the group some bubble blowers and so I played with them outside for a little bit and watched them happily chase around the bubbles until they either popped them or the bubbles blew away. We gave them some skipping ropes also, so the older children played with them. Visiting the Amani kids on this day was the only time during this whole trip where I actually cried. Itís so hard to see all of these beautiful children with beautiful smiles and knowing that they have to suffer with HIV/AIDS. They were the friendliest kids I have seen this whole trip and I just wanted to take all of them home with me and help them and their families.
Friday was the teachers ĎGraduation dayí. Even though I had only been at the teacherís week thing for a few hours this week, Heike, Erin, Sheena and my mother have been working very hard to show the teachers fun ways to teach English. It was very funny to see them try and teach the room full of teachers Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Since we are from Canada, we decided that Friday would be ĎCanada Dayí. We made them Macaroni and Cheese, Fruit Salad, Jell-O and Iced Tea. It was interesting to see their reactions to the meals and most of them, like we expected, didnít finish their meals. Brenda gave each teacher a Certificate of Completion and afterwards the teachers sung us their national anthem and they all sounded beautiful. In return, the five of us sung O-Canada back to them, and I donít really think we sounded as good as they did. It was very emotional to hear how much they appreciated what the teachers taught them this week and how excited they are to go back to their schools and teach them what they learnt here. Saying goodbye to them was hard but the experience was wonderful and we are all hoping that we can do the teacher week again next year.
On Saturday we just relaxed and packed our bags and in the evening we had dinner with Dr. Andrew and Major Matella .
Today is Sunday and we had to get up and head to the bus station for seven AM this morning to go to Mwanza which was a 4 hour bus ride away. The bus rides are never bad, but I hate getting off them. It is so overwhelming when we get off the bus and there are groups of people shouting at us to get a taxi or to give them money. We went to the hotel that we are staying at tonight and then went into town to try and find food. I really donít want to come back to Mwanza anytime soon, because in the three or so hours that we were in town I go to so frustrated with all the people shouting at us. I donít they donít mean to be so rude, but I honestly just felt like shouting at them to leave us alone. Some of the people here expect us to give them money just because weíre white, and get mad at us when we donít. Tomorrow we leave for the Safari and I am so so so so so so so excited!
Next time Iím able to access the internet will most likely be at the Nairobi airport, but if Iím able to sooner I will. I hope everyone is well and that my little beautiful baby niece Eden gets better really fast! I also hope that my sister Ra has a great trip to Thailand!!