Mabatini and Uyole today. We started early with the intention of finishing in time for some of the Tanzanian workers to attend a local pastor’s wedding, but one of the trucks had a flat tyre, which delayed us a bit.
The Head of Uyole School popped in to give a greeting.
The interviewing was fairly relaxed at Uyole as many of the children were sitting exams at school, and arrived in dribs and drabs as they finished. Even so, we finished and made it back to Airport for two o’clock, just a few minutes after the wedding started. Team Mabatini had completed their work more quickly and had returned an hour earlier.
Despite all that needed to be done for the wedding, Menadi still had a meal of rice, beans, plantain and bananas waiting for us.
Rested, refreshed and replenished, we made our way back to the Karibuni Centre – some of us via the market – for a much enjoyed afternoon relaxing in the centre.
Today, some thoughts from first timer bloggers from the team. I won’t bore you with any more of mine, and you’ve already heard from Lucy and Emma, although Emma would like to add that today she met the two children she’s been sponsoring for the last two years, and she wasn’t prepared for how emotional she felt.
She recently sent out a pack of bedding for the children, which arrived a few weeks ago, and the grandmother who looks after the children was so appreciative of the gift. Emma found it humbling to be thanked so profusely for something so inconsequential to her.
From stories told by others who had been in the past, Karen expected it to be a little like Brazil, which she visited in 2008 with another mission, and it has turned out to be similar with the dust and the dirt, and the children’s excitement in seeing us.
She says she didn’t expect to have so much contact with the families, and despite being aware that each of the children on the programme is an individual, when the interviews start going quickly, it’s hard to keep that in mind.
One of the best things has been building a rapport with her Tanzanian translator, Zuwena, who she has been working with all week; finding out that she was sponsored by Grassroots as well, having lost her family, seeing her compassion for the children, learning that she’s training to be a science teacher.
Has had so many photos and explanations from her husband, Mark – who has been here on five previous occasions – that most things have turned out pretty much as expected. Amongst the things that have turned out to be different are the very large number of small shops lining the roads wherever you go, the overwhelming diversity in patterns and colours of material in the local women’s clothing, and the variety of different names the children have, which seems so much greater than in England. Adding to the colour this week have also been one beautiful green humming bird and a spectacular butterfly with vivid blue stripes on its wings.
Something else that struck her was the adverts for mobile phone services, which include a power option so that you can go to charging points and recharge your batteries. We grumble about having to plug the things in all the time, but how much more of an interesting time would we have if we didn’t have electricity at home to do it?
She especially enjoyed going to Tukuyu yesterday. About an hour’s drive into the surrounding hills where the land is green and lush, contrasting to much of the rest of Tanzania. Another enjoyable experience has been driving home at twilight when a lot of the locals come out.
Probably the hardest thing to cope with has been the lavatorial facilities, especially away from the centre where they are very basic and without much to dissipate the smell.
Mary didn’t have much of an idea on what to expect before she came. After the interminable flights and waiting in airports, she was determined that she would never do it again, but stepping off the plane at Mbeya airport and seeing the hills surrounding the city, then leaving the airport to the sound of children singing, she changed her mind, and now at the end of her trip, she says she has had a brilliant time and would like to come back.
The thing that has struck her most about Mbeya is the way the children come swarming as soon as you arrive. The smiles, the greetings, the way they want to hold your hand, touch your hair… The best thing about the week for her has been greeting the children, and the friendliness of the team that came over to work here.
She didn’t expect to have to clean her teeth with bottled water, and didn’t much like quality of the toilet facilities away from the centre, which more or less left her having to last for hours between comfort breaks.
Another eye opener was the church service on the Sunday after we arrived. Initially she didn’t want to go, but the dynamism of the service was superb and made the three hours of music, dancing, and passionate preaching pass in a flash.
Alina’s contribution for anyone who speaks Romanian
Am asteptat cu nerabdare sa aterizez in aeroportul din Dar es Salam pentru a-mi face o idea despre ceea ce inseamna viata in Africa. Spre surprinderea mea am gasit multe lucruri pe care nu asteptam sa le gasesc …. Insa pentru inceput saracia poate fi observata pretutindeni. Viata in Africa, in Tanzania e plina de caldura, in ceea ce priveste clima cat si oamenii care traiesc aici. Bucuria cu care ne-au primit in orasul lor, Mbeya cat si modul in care s-au purtat cu noi in aceste zile m-a impresionat. Numarul mare de scoli si biserici face din Mbeya un oras interesant in care educatia isi are rolul ei bine definit. Dincolo de faptul ca au doar cateva haine, inima lor e plina dragoste si multumire. Pentru copiii din Tanzania faptul ca merg la scoala e o reala bucurie si binecuvantare chiar daca hainele sunt rupte si mancare nu este indeajuns. Daca as putea sa transmit in cuvinte ceea ce inseamna ajutorul oferit de sponsorii romani pentru copiii din Africa…as incerca sa fac asta….dar nu exista cuvinte potrivite care sa defineasca nevoia de aici. E CU ADEVARAT o mana cereasca in mijlocul saraciei. Am intalnit multi copii sponsorizati de romani. Parintii si fratii lor va transmit multumiri. Modul in care noi putem face cu adevara diferenta in viata unui copil din AFRICA….e relativ simplu. Sa nu obosim sa facem bine caci la vreme potrivita vom primi rasplata cuvenita! INVESTESTE PUTIN si vei face o mare diferenta, schimband viitorul unui copil.
Like Kathy, Chris had seen Marks photos before coming, so nothing in the appearance of Mbeya was different from expected. With the addition of the dust, the noise and the smell though, the overall experience was enhanced a hundred-fold.
She has found the people more welcoming and receptive of our being here than she expected, especially the children who have shown an immense amount of trust in wanting to hold our hands, and in their willingness and desire to be with us.
Although very dry and barren, a lot of the plants and flowers here are very lush and beautiful, however there is a surprising lack of wildlife; even small animals such as lizards seem to be absent.
The best thing for Chris has been the camaraderie within the team. She also has also been humbled to see how many of the Tanzanian carers and children view the visit form Grassroots as the highlight of their year.
The hardest thing she has found is facing the sheer scale of the need.
Jan (in her own words)
What an amazing experience this has been. Although reading about and hearing what Grassroots does in Tanzania, it is really hard to put into words just how much happens here. The Tanzanian folk have been so warm, friendly and welcoming wherever we have been. So many children/families in need of help turning up in the hope that their children will be put on the sponsorship scheme.
Seeing children proud to wear their school uniforms and just longing to study, when you think back home there are some that really can’t be bothered with learning. The children here have touched my heart, they may not have much in a material sense, but they have so much to give in the way of love and appreciation. Their smiling faces beam out at you, and little hands reach out just to be held. Every child is precious and Jesus loves each one.
Every action causes a reaction, and I have seen for myself now what a great job Grassroots is doing here in making a real difference. It has been a tiring time, but very worthwhile, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come on this trip and would certainly recommend it. Even with the dust – gets everywhere – and the smells, and noise it was wonderful. If you want to lose a few llbs (bonus) and like rice & beans and just want to help children and their families then sign up to a trip, you won’t regret it.
Sitting in the back of an open truck, bumping along dirt tracks over rivers in a four by four is an experience in itself (great fun). It has been a truly wonderful experience, one I’ll never forget – LOL (especially for Graham, he’ll know what that means). Oh and I just had to sponsor a couple of children while I was out here (how could I not) – there are so many more, though, needing sponsorship – what are you waiting for …… go on make a real difference to a little ones’ life. It has certainly made a difference to mine!
And finally in her own words, Amanda
Being a non-single person who doesn’t have kids (totally out of our choice) I often come across as a bit of surprise to people when I choose to come and volunteer doing this type of work. The natural environment for me would be four legs good two legs …………. well, just say two legs generally a bit harder for me to adjust to!
Despite that I love being around the kids (for most of the time at least) and today I very nearly discovered that non-existent maternal gene! We were interviewing at Uyole and about 15 minutes in I realised I had a little shadow. Out of nowhere I had attracted a beautiful little girl who spent the next 2 hours glued to my side, intently staring into my face or, once I hoisted her up, sat on my lap. She was very welcome, if a little cumbersome to handle with the clipboard and was also doing a brilliant job of keeping me warm as it was a bit shady and damp in the church building we were working in.
I didn’t get her name but I did ask Sharon if she needed a sponsor and the subsequent conversation illustrated the depth of compassion that exists amongst the Tanzanian communities. Sharon and the pastor, Hezron, spoke to the girl’s grandmother and with great humanity she thanked me for my kind offer but said that as the girl’s parents were alive and in employment she was well looked after and therefore would decline. The subsequent comment really brought tears to my eyes when the grandma went on to thank Grassroots for their work and to say that there were far more needy children than her grand-daughter – what a wonderful thing to do.