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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Friday, 20 Jul 2012

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapSheena

Today was my world vision visit and it was amazing. I cannot tell you how awesome it was to finally meet Mwacheni and her family. I see more than ever how Brenda cannot stop coming back. It was a very long day and left me exhausted but was so worth the trip over here!
The day started out with Edna and Edward(driver) from WV picking me up at the hotel. I was ready promptly at eight, as requested, but was not terribly surprised when the others got picked up before me at 8:30! The first stop was at the world vision office, where I met with Oliver, who Brenda has met in the past. He took me around and introduced me to all of the staff there and explained a little bit about how they do things. Then he took me out back to where their milk processing operation is. Some families have been subsidized to get milk cows and they bring their surplus milk there, where it is made into a vanilla flavoured yogurt drink that is sold for 500 Tanzanian shillings (33cents) for a 250ml package. I was given a package to drink. It was quite sour (as all the yogurt I’ve tried on this trip has been) but still quite good. This was only the beginning of what I would end up eating (in spite of being not hungry at all).
After the milk processing tour we went back to the offices for …breakfast! Having already eaten, I was not at all hungry, but was too polite to refuse. They very kindly dished me up one boiled egg, two chipati’s (Indian tortilla thing) and a piece of chicken in a bowl of oily broth. They also made me a hot chocolate. I was a very good girl and I ate every bit of it!
Then we walked over to a drip irrigation pilot project that was very impressive. Oliver had been working in another town for the past three months, and he was so excited to see how well it was working. It is nice to see that the people working for WV there are so passionate about what they are doing! The pilot project consists of a pump and pipe to bring water to a big tank, then hoses from there down all of the rows. The corn and sunflowers planted are modified drought-resistant crops and they were doing very well. They were an oasis of bright green in a dry, grayish landscape! The men running it were very proud of their project, and rightly so. This program is also being implemented in 9 schools in the area.
After that we went off to pick Mwacheni up from school. We went to the office and I met the headmaster and then they brought Mwacheni in and at last we got to meet!! She was very shy, but smiling. She is very pretty and not as tall as I thought (but I guess I saw her in pictures with Brenda, who is shorter than I think she should be!). When we arrived, the whole school (900ish kids) was outside because they were electing their student council, so I was definitely the center of more attention than I am used to! We toured around the school and Mwacheni seemed even more nervous with all the attention we were getting than I was. I got to sit at her seat and look at all her work and meet her best friend Ashura. Once I shook hands with her, then all the boys decided they should too and it turned into a bit of a hand-shaking frenzy! We took some pictures and on the way out I even got a picture with the newly-elected Head Prefect!!
We then drove around some more on bumpy dirt roads and saw the water system world vision built. It pumps water from a natural source to two villages. Then we drove some more to another secondary school just so they could unlock the tap and turn it on to show me that the water really is going places!
Finally, it was time for the main event! We went to Mwacheni's house. I had asked for a longer visit (it was only going to be 1 1/2 hours) so we got there at 12 and left just before five. Their house consists of three mud huts about the same height as me. One is half for their goats and half for their “kitchen”, and the other two are for the family to sleep in. I did not see the bathroom, and probably that is for the best! I cannot believe that ten people live there! Also amazing, that Mwacheni can go into a tiny mud hut and change out of her school uniform into other, clean clothes and then later go in and bring out the pictures and letters I have sent her in the past.
We sat under a tarp outside in lawn chairs and through the WV translator compared countries. They were very surprised Dave didn’t have to give my parents cows before you could marry me! Mwacheni’s dad said that he should have married a Muzungo woman since they are free. It was really cool to just sit with the family and neighbours and chat about what life is like for us. They thought it was hilarious that we let our dogs in the house and were completely stunned when I said that HIV/AIDS is not nearly as big a deal as it is here and that I didn’t know anyone in my friends or family who had it. They said that Canada sounds like a very good place where people take care of each other.
It was a lovely visit, Mwacheni and the children sang for me, we talked and laughed, they presented me with some gifts (more singing and dancing involved with that!), I gave them their gifts, and I heroically choked down some plain boiled sweet potato and incredibly sweetened tea(2 glasses)! Mwacheni was very quiet and didn’t understand my English very well even though secondary school is done all in English so we had to talk through the translator, but it was very cute because every time I looked at her she smiled and looked away embarassed. However, if I was in any doubt how important this visit was to her, I wasn't in the end because after shaking hands with her and her family and the neighbours and her again, then she gave me a big hug and started crying. Then I was crying, and that is how I had to leave! I kind of want to cry just thinking about it now!
They said to say hello to my husband and family and they want is to come and visit them again. When I left they said they wished I could stay all night. It was a fabulous day and it left me very exhausted and emotional. I cannot imagine not going back to see all of these people again. Even if I had done nothing else on this trip, this day would have been worth all the time and expense it took to get here!
Oh yeah, I should add that I was served another meal at the WV office before we drove home and of course I ended up carsick and threw up back at the hotel!