Wednesday 11 March
I went into town in the morning to get a few items and I met up with a guy from Buigiri who now drives a local bus in town. I bought a fan for my house and when I got it home I realised that the gaps in the metal grill are far enough apart to get your fingers through – possibly not the best thing for a house where blind children walk around with their hands extended. I also saw in town a guy wearing a t-shirt with ‘B.I.L.F.’ on the front – somewhat unfortunate I thought.
I love the interior design here – a blend of Bin Laden and children who are missing limbs.
When I got back I met with Thomas who is an albino child who has just moved here from Hombolo. When I was here last year I visited Hombolo as I had heard there was a unit for the blind at their primary school which took the kids who couldn’t get in to Buigiri. He is a bright kid who is always clean and tidy. I gather an American passed through some time ago and left some funds for sun tan cream for him – albinos burn up and they are all covered in black marks from the sun. Due to his sponsorship he is in a better state than most, but he still needs help. I’ve given him a stock of hats to wear, including a couple of rather fetching fishing hats.
In the evening one of the blind teachers and his son came to visit me for dinner. He is the guy who set the rehab centre up but we dont exactly see eye-to-eye if you pardon the pun. He gets money from a school in Blackpool but it all gets channeled into big projects like they just recently built an office inspite of not having anything to do in there and they also have a large pickup truck which sits idle for most of the time and is only really used when he wants to go in to town. Meanwhile the inhabitants live hard lives and all they really want are things like seeds for their gardens or medication when they are sick.
After dinner I went to the bar and then caught the first half of the Real Madrid vs Lyon game but was so shattered I went home to bed at half time. I think Im going to need a holiday when I get back to England just to allow my body to recharge.
Thursday 12 March
This was quite a busy day as I went in to town to get a few items and I got dropped off on the return bus right outside the rehab centre – it isn’t that far to the centre from my house, only maybe 3 km, but there is no shade on the route and so if I can avoid walking it then I appreciate it as it syncs in nicely with my general laziness. I went to the centre to finalise a few things with the leaders about some things I have lined up for the coming days. I then headed to a nearby maize merchant’s business with the blind and bought 440kg of maize for them. I left them to lug it back on their shoulders or on bikes – did I mention my laziness? I then headed to a nearby shop run by a blind man called Joel. I set him up with the stock for the business last year. Running a shop is a tricky business as it requires many more skills than you might expect but he impressed me in several ways – namely he could rattle off the wholesale prices from memory and most importantly was prepared to contribute some money himself. It was only a token amount but I find it to be a good indicator of who wants to progress with their lives rather than just look for handouts. I was pleased to see the shop still going – it is never going to make him a fortune but it provides just enough income to top up what his small farm produces.
Joel and me at his shop
The blind from the centre with their maize
On my way back home I came across a woman who came to see me last year with a skin complaint and I helped her get to a specialist in a nearby town. She is now healed and again it is refreshing to see a problem get solved as all too often you enable people to sort their issues out but they screw up in a myriad of ways.
In the evening I went to see the grandfather of one the guys I hang around with. His daughter had a masectomy last year. The treatment was free but he had to sell all his livestock, effectively his life’s savings to cover the transportation and other costs involved. She needs to return to Dar es Salaam for a check up next week and he was trying to raise £63 to cover all the costs. Within a day he had found £15 donated by around 35 people. I find it tough here deciding who to help as my resources are obviously limited, but when people try and solve their own problems before going to see the whiteman then that tends to get my approval so I gave a contribution but did not supply it all as I think it is important that they continue to solve their own problems – yet on the other hand I do think it is a bit tough not helping someone to the max when all they want is to survive cancer. Its a bit of a moral conundrum I face quite often here.
I bought out some toys, including this braille tile shifting game.
In the evening a I upset a boy who plays at my house. He showed me a model of a house made from paper that seemed to be a piece of scrap. I handed it back to him without realising he has bought it from someone as a gift for me. Fortunately someone whispered in my ear and I sorted things out. It is a bit strange when someone gives me gifts here cos I feel guilty taking them. Another time a boy gave me a guava and yet I know his family is down to eating just one meal a day now – it means a lot to give away something like a piece of fruit so I have to accept it.
My new house
I also found some time to play with the school kids. Its odd cos in England I dont have a clue what to say to most children, but out here I can find ways to entertain us for hours on end whilst having limited language skills.
Chatting with the kids on the dormitory steps
Friday 12 March
I headed over to a neighbouring village early in the morning as Buigiri Secondary School were playing them in netball, football and volleyball. Alas we lost in everything but it was a great experience just being there – sports days in England seem so dull in comparison. When things had finished I had lunch with a few guys from Buigiri and we played some pool. I couldnt work out why I was playing so poorly until I rolled my cue across the table and realised it bent in every way possible.
The winning supporters kept running around waving flags and cheering.
The day was a bit of a chill out day – I typically wake around 7am and seem to be doing stuff right through to midnight, so it is good to sometimes get away from the village and put my feet up. In the evening a teacher came for dinner. He is the regional co-ordinator for the Tanzanian League for the Blind and also the guy I get to do stuff for me relating to the blind for places within the region but situated outside of Buigiri when I am not in the country. We had a lot to discuss and it was a productive hour or so.
Saturday 13 March
I spent a long time just chatting to people – I got to expand a couple of people’s knowledge of English with the phrase ‘Mates before muff’ as a teacher had isolated himself from the others cos he spent his life jumping into bed with different girls. AIDS is a big problem here but even educated people just can’t keep their zips done up.
These are the children of some of the blind teachers – they all live near my house but are wealthy in comparison to the blind kids.
The kids run around without much thought for snakes or scorpions – so when they stop dead in their tracks due to certain ants I know they are potentially very dangerous. Unfortunately for me they keep invading my house, so I go out hunting with some of the boys to make sure none are going to nip me in the night.
I held a dance competition, but it was mainly a trial run for the main one I had planned for Sunday. The local tribe is famous for their music and dancing and the kids love every opportunity to dance. I took part for a laugh and made it through my heat but I suspect I was voted for as a piss take.
The kids are pretty resourceful when it comes to making entertainment out of other people’s rubbish