2011 Trip part 3

Sunday 13th March

Sunday was another relatively easy day although I still had a steady stream of visitors to my house. One guy came to see me cos his wife has kidney problems. I gave some support last year and again supplied a little bit but only about 10% of what he needed.

I also had a very drunk guy come and try and get money – I outright refused. If he can buy drink he can buy food. He got quite intimidating and I was bracing myself to be attacked but he shuffled off peacefully in the end. Although I’ve never had any trouble here, I am conscious that I’m a target cos I have a small fortune in the house plus boxes and sacks of goods so my shop is as kitted out as any village shop. Tanzanians are by their nature a very friendly and welcoming people but all it takes is one desperate guy with a machete and it could be goodnight from me.


Abel asked me to bring out a digital camera. I got him a 1.3megapixel one and warned him it’ll be rubbish. .


I visited a woman to make a video for a school in London of how the local food is prepared .

In the afternoon I experienced one of my most surreal moments in the village – over the last few years I’ve helped an 80 year old blind man called Gabriel set up a chicken project which has grown and changed into a goat project. A friend gave me £50 to spend out here and as my friend is into spiritual and spooky stuff I decided to use it to help Gabriel as his son is a witchdoctor and he decided to use the money to expand his herd, sort out grazing for them and get himself food. Also, whilst Gabriel is a very poor man he is held in very high regard as an elder so he will use some money to get some clothes so he won’t have to wear his rags. It is just a small thing really but giving him the ability to get clothes is a big deal to him. Gabriel gets some support from his son and to thank me for the help I’ve channelled to his father he invited me over to visit him in his surgery. I have been before and wanted to take pics but didn’t want to look touristy so I missed the opportunity. This time around he asked me to bring my camera – result. The place is full of herbs and remedies. It is a very odd place. He presented me with a duck as a thank you. I’ve never held a duck before – but they aren’t much fans of being carried around and it flapped like crazy and crapped all over the place. The whole situation was very bizarre.


Sitting with Gabriel and his son in the witchdoctor’s surgery. There are also wards attached and he sometimes refers people in to mainstream medicine.


The presentation.


The duck was placed in a very practical carry case for me to take home .

On the way back to the school I got a kilo of BBQed cow to give to the kids. One boy had recently had a visit from his father and had a load of sweets and biscuits. I’d earlier asked for a sweet for a joke and he refused, so in turn I said he wouldn’t get any meat – which I didn’t mean but he then ran around everyone telling them I was tricking them and giving them roasted snake. It was really amusing. He eventually had some cow and soon shut up.


Giving some of the stuff out to the girls.


Some boys got toy cars.

Monday 14th March

I spent the day in town – I took 3 guys from the village with me. One of whom was the guy I mentioned earlier who I was concerned had wasted the money for his small business and his education but he showed me his bank account and although it didn’t have the full amount in it, it was mostly complete. So that was refreshing. I then hit the shops – I got 100 pants, 60 socks, loads of material and around 200 items of clothing. Buying stuff is not straight forward. Most shops don’t have things in any quantity. Also prices vary so much so you have to hunt around to find the best price and then get haggling. As a whiteman I don’t tend to get too much leeway given to me, but I can usually save a little. I’ve perfected my ‘kakaka’ throat noise which is what they do here when surprised by something – so whenever I’m given a price I use that noise and it gives me an avenue to shave off some money. I must remember not to do that when back in England in Sainsbury’s.


Coral’s new sponsored pro.


Sorting clothes into piles of gender and size at home, one of the guys decided to have a go at crossdressing. He seemed to enjoy it.


In the evening I had a couple of teachers over to eat the duck. He was a big bird though and it fed a further four people. It was very tasty indeed.

Tuesday 15th March

I headed to Hombolo which is a town around an hour away along dirt roads. There is a primary school there which has a small boarding unit for the blind. Currently they have 7 blind students but their capacity is far higher. Many parents are frightened of the motivations behind trying to get the kids into school and many other parents just don’t know that there is an opportunity to get free education for their visually impaired children. I’ve tried tackling this in the past and have got a few kids into the education system but it is so time consuming and can chew up cash if you don’t want to wait for the local governmental bureaucracy to kick in. Anyhow, the seven children there are often overlooked as all the resources for the blind comes to Buigiri as that is where the most need is. Over the past few years I’ve given the Hombolo kids some support though and the purpose of today’s visit was to distribute new uniforms and shoes as well as stuff like Braille playing cards, wind up radios, talking watches and then small things like toothpaste and skin cream. It’s not exactly life changing stuff for them but at least they don’t feel totally forgotten.


With the seven blind children of Hombolo School plus a matron and some teachers, one of whom is blind.

Unfortunately when we arrived at the school in Hombolo we had some terrible news. I was escorting one of the Buigiri blind teachers who is also the regional co-ordinator of the Tanzanian League for the Blind when he had a phone call – his father had suddenly died at his home around 5 hours north or where we were. We finished our business at the school but we had an appointment at the local winery – the biggest (and only) one in East Africa. I said we should head back to Buigiri but it was agreed the visit would continue but would be brief. In hindsight we should have just returned. We’ve all been to the vineyard before and it was only on the agenda as an entertainment stop. When we eventually made it back to Buigiri the teacher’s house was full of people paying their respects. It was very moving watching people with very little money each give a short speech and contribute what they could to enable the family to travel the 5 hours north for the funeral.


At the Cetawico winery.

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About Imo & Tom Feilding

I'm in my 30s and work for the University of Bristol, I regularly visit Buigiri Village slapbang in the centre of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a very poor semi-desert area. I spend much of my time and money helping individuals improve their situation and I write about it on here.
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