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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 21 Jul 2012

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapBrenda

We had an amazing week in Kahama with little time to blog so I’ll try and catch up a bit now. When we arrived, we were worried we wouldn’t have time to finish everything we needed to do but I’m feeling good about all we accomplished. The teacher workshop went amazingly well, (the others will be blogging more about that,) and we had a couple meetings with Major Matala and Dr. Andrew and sorted out a lot of the details for the next crate shipment. We visited the children from the Faraja Orphanage group, met with the Amani group facilitators, had a wonderful party with the Amani children, toured the hospital, reunited with old friends and made new ones. Of course, in addition to all of this there was a lot of time spent waiting in lineups at the bank (three times), waiting for food, waiting to meet up with people and waiting for taxis.

Some highlights of my week were…

We had a quick visit with Athanis’s wife, Angel on the way to Major Matala’s retirement party. The next day, during our tour of the hospital, we happened to be in the delivery rooms and realized Angel was in there in labour. She later gave birth to a baby girl. We were excited to be invited over the following day to see them both.

The visit to the Faraja Orphanage was great! Initially, we had trouble making contact with Scholastica, who runs the orphanage, so we’re unsure how a visit would go since they didn’t know we were coming. Joseph thought he had a ride arranged but then found out there was no insurance on the vehicle, so it couldn’t be driven on the highway. (Apparently you can get away with it in town but can’t get through the road blocks on the highway.) We ended up arranging a taxi to take us, but still didn’t know where exactly to go. With some help from WV we were able to track them down.

It was obvious by the large group that greeted us that Scholastica had the heads up that we were on our way. We were greeted with shouting, singing and lots of hugs and handshaking. We quickly pointed out that we had a celebrity with us, Miss Sheena, from the Montessori School who helps sponsor them. There was lots more shouting and hugging over that! Joseph helped me purchase bananas and cookies for the group as it was obvious that there were more than the just the Faraja children in the crowd. It was a fun afternoon, as it always is when you’re out in the villages! (Sheen is also blogging about the day so I’ll leave it with that.)

Our party with the Amani children was wonderful. For those of you who might not know, these are a group of 150 children who attend the HIV clinic at the hospital. We sponsor a clubhouse for them. It was wonderful to see some of the items we’re sent in the last crate being used. The cupboards in the Amani room are stuffed with toys, and today they brought out mats and piled toys on them for the children to play with. The TV we sent was playing our videos on our donated video machine in the middle of the table.

We took pictures of all the children individually, with their names in their hands so we could identify them later. The children all coloured pictures, wrote letters for us to take back and later we gave everyone food and drinks. The adults who brought them were sitting around the outside of the group watching and enjoying the party also.

There was one woman whose young son was sick had a high fever. Her little girl was the size of a baby but was obviously older by the way she could move around. Philomena told us that her husband had left her because she was sick (HIV) and now she is alone to care for her sick children. Often it’s the men who infect their wives but then the women are blamed.

As she was leaving, I grabbed a few extra toys and put them in her bag and quietly slipped TSH 20,000 of our donated money into her hand. We thought about her a lot later on, and worried about how she would get through this. There are so many stories like hers and you just feel so helpless that you can’t do more!

My friend Joseph had asked if I would go out to the village with him on Saturday, our last day, to meet his mother. I knew it would mean a lot to him so we committed to go. We already had a meeting with Major Matala, a visit with Daudi’s family scheduled and we were supposed to be at Dr. Andrew’s for 5pm.

Erin wanted to come as well as Emmanuel, a friend of Joseph’s. We walked to edge of town to catch a van out to the next village. There, the four of us hopped on motorbikes for the rest of the trip, helmetless of course! First Joseph took us to see the local “mining operation.” The ride was beautiful! We had veered off the main dirt road and were now snaking our way through a maze of trails.

Apparently, one of the villagers had found a gold nugget when he was digging and later sold it for a large amount of money. He used some of the money to buy a little metal detector, like the ones we see being used at our local beaches. A group of about 50-60 people have now moved out to this remote area and are living in horrible conditions in make-shift huts, covered with ripped tarps. The area surrounding the dwellings looked like a moonscape. The people have been digging in random place, some of the narrow holes 5 metres deep. One of the holes they were working in was the size of our house and Joseph told us they were digging tunnels between the holes. There was no shoring of the walls and often dirt collapses on top of people. The pathetic thing was they were just digging looking for nuggets, like they would actually find another one. There was no sluicing, or any other procedure that might actually produce some gold. This just shows you how desperate people are here.

Joseph’s mom was working in one of the huts that served food. We picked her up to take her to the village where the family home was. Now there were three helmetless people on one of the bikes. When we arrived at the hut, there was the usual crowd of family and neighbours waiting to greet us. We crowded inside the tiny main room and distributed our gifts and drank the pop they offered us. Joseph’s mom loved her gifts, especially the music box!!

After distributing marbles to the large mob of children, we hopped on the bikes to go find the village soccer team. It’s always amazing how fast a group can be gathered together. I had shown Joseph the two balls and pump that I had brought. He suggested that we donate them to the team and by the time we drove further into the village the whole group was there. Two captains and about 20 young men, all cheering and jumping around! We handed over the ball, took some pictures, shook hands with everyone and were on our way!!!

When it was time to transfer again from the bikes to the mini-van, we laughed as they managed to cram 17 people into it. This isn’t the usual dalla-dalla van but the same mini vans we see at home. Sine there are no seatbelts and everyone drives like maniacs, it’s probably better to be crammed in like that!

We’re leaving soon for the Serengeti so don’t have time to write more. Will fill in the gaps later and for sure post lots of pictures!!!!!