Written by Mark Price
The rainy season started in Mbeya today – well it rained for about 7 hours if that counts?
Fortunately it did not disrupt our programme too much and the team, spread across two locations for the first time on this trip, managed to interview and photograph over 280 children.
The Pambogo team were based at the school – an interesting experience with 100’s of children wearing bright red jumpers and red and white stripey socks crowding around everything the team were doing. The photography area is always one of the main centres of attention and today was no exception. Imagine standing in front of the camera with 50 of your friends watching and ‘encouraging’ you to tabasam (smile) or checka (laugh). Not easy and a challenging environment for the photographer too. Today Bethany took charge of photos at Pambogo – her first time undertaking this task. The pictures are fab! And if you sponsor a child at Pambogo you will not be disappointed when you get your update.
I’ve been taking pictures at Shewa today. Shewa was one of the first places outside of the main centre that I visited when I first came to Tanzania in 2006. I have seen some of the children I photographed today many times since that first visit and it is wonderful to see how they have grown up. Several of the children at Shewa are sponsored by my friends and family and it is great to be able to relay to them first hand how the children are doing. It is so clear that the support that is given through Grassroots is making a real difference to these young people and their families. There is always more that can be done and it was great to be able to enrol some new children onto the scheme at Shewa today.
It’s been great working with the Tanzanian translators on this trip. Many have come through the Grassroots sponsorship programme and are only too happy to help out. I have found it interesting talking to them and finding out just a little bit of their story (good job they can speak English because my Swahili leaves a lot to be desired!) A recurring theme which is quite upsetting is hearing about those who have studied hard and got good qualifications but cannot then get jobs at the end of it. This particularly affects those who have trained to be teachers. The education system in Tanzania is under huge strain at the moment and there have been some major changes in government policy. This means that newly qualified teachers can have to wait between 3 and 5 years for jobs to become available! In the meantime they have to live and so have to find other ways of generating an income. It’s hard! Many of them are having to support themselves and other members of their family and have no capital to get a new business off of the ground. There’s no unemployment benefit here. They simply have to do it on their own. A huge issue, one to wrestle with and not something that will be solved overnight.
There are going to be some big puddles on the dirt tracks tomorrow. We are praying that the rain will go away overnight otherwise interviewing and photographing will come with an added challenge as we visit Swaya and Nyibuko tomorrow.