Joy is my over-riding response to the smiling, dusty, dirty faces of all those children who surround us each time we gather outside the Grassroots centre. They all love having their photograph taken, giggling and squealing as they see their images on digital cameras. The "Hokey Cokey", "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" and Alice's "break one" were all participated in with beams of happiness. Hands were held; closeness and hugs, as well as teasing are so important to these little ones. They steal your heart. I have a feeling a piece of it will forever stay here.
After interviewing at Airport church, one young girl approached, signing her hunger. It was so hard to refuse her food, knowing there were not enough cereal bars to go around all the hungry children waiting expectantly outside. Such guilt pervaded as we later had lunch and little faces peered in through the windows. Waving and smiling felt so wrong as we tucked into piled up plates, yet I couldn't even offer a cereal bar. We were privileged to be escorted around Airport, to see the small tomato stalls, orange stands and brick makers sitting outside their houses. We were then taken inside the house of one of the Grassroots team. He very proudly offered his hospitality and answered our endless questions about life in Tanzania. We were very well looked after. Today interviews took place. Such an experience to enter as humbly as possible with a Grassroots' translator and a young person on the programme! Finding the compassionate approach without appearing to pry was quite an art. It was so important to show love yet use subtelty when concerns arose. My translator was lovely; his warmth towards the young people was heartening; his knowledge of their situation invaluable.
The bustling market was the back drop for buying buckets for the water filters. Amongst the fake Converse trainers, potties, western football shirts, African print fabric, woven baskets and grains and seeds our team found the sixty buckets to be bartered down to 396000 shillings (£150). After panicking that one of the U.K. team might be lost amongst the stalls, it took a few moments to realise that the people only needed to be asked where the Mzungu (white person) had gone. We were the only white people in the vicinity!
A pig pen was being built on the other side of the town by the Grassroots' translators within the back yard of one of the church women. After collecting rough hewn timbers from a local timber merchant, we carried the twelve foot planks along the main street, with one woman or man at either end of them, before passing each one gingerly over the wall. Thank goodness we had tall members of our UK team. The fun began when the patch of ground needed to be cleared of rubbish before the machetes came out and post holes dug. The timbers were sawed on the ground before Barry knocked up a tressle from the offcuts and gave the men the handy hint to wax the blades. Progress was speeding up, but the light fading so the project was stopped for the day.
I had a wonderful time sharing worship songs and "chatting" with the beautiful Tanzanian women as we sat in the yard. At one point, one of the ladies was admiring my hat. I told her the English word for it, and she touched her chest, "Isn't this my hat?" she asked. How lovely. Two wonderful days with people who live such simple lives in such a happy, smiling existence.
Alice wants to stay!
The team from Bishop Luffa arrived this afternoon. They will be joining us from tomorrow. We have a busy day making pig pens, setting up water filters and interviewing children…. See you tomorrow.