Wednesday 16th March
The day started off with another Adult Blind Centre meeting to discuss the chicken projects. We still needed to buy the wood for the roofing frames, plus sort out labour and other jobs. Meetings at the centre take way too long – they do everything by committee and committees talk, they don’t do. Unfortunately it is a necessary ring to jump through here. I’ve tried working with just the group chairman and someone bright who speaks English, but everyone else just gets suspicious that we are swindling them. It is frustrating but with a little pressure I can keep the meetings down to a manageable length – in this instance it was 3 hours but we made some progress.
I had to be back in the centre of the village for 2pm though as I’d arranged a football match between Buigiri Mission Primary School and Uguzi Primary school. The winning team was to receive a dozen brand new Bristol City FC shirts and a football and the runners-up got an assortment of second hand premiership shirts. I was expecting a fairly gentle game with few spectators but over 500 turned out to watch. Uguzi were soon 3-2 up but most people wanted Buigiri to win and there was a pitch invasion, the referee was circled and he was only released once he altered the scoreline to 2-2. I was then told that if the scoreline remained the same I would have to pick a winner. Cripes. Fortunately Buigiri scored and the game was then ended early to ensure Uguzi didn’t equalise. The whole thing was unfair in the extreme, but there was no point me causing a fuss and Uguzi already had team shirts whereas Buigiri were playing in their school uniforms – I also had a couple of friends in the Buigiri squad and nepotism rules.
The winning team
The runners up
After the game I went back home and held a conference call between ten Tanzanian children and a class in a London Primary School. I had hoped to get a live video feed running over Skype but the internet didn’t play ball. It still went well nevertheless and I know the children certainly enjoyed it. I handled most of the translation as well which I was pleased with. In the evening one of the kids asked me if this meant he now had friends in London which I thought was sweet.
Thursday 17th March
Today was a day of little jobs. First off I had four students pay a visit to my house. For the past few years a number of secondary school students have been sponsored by friends of mine. Last year for instance a friend ran a half-marathon and that funds two of them and my office gave their Secret Santa money to fund another. I think 8 are currently funded this year.
Bahati, Christopher, Sophia & Mariam
I then had a visit from an albino villager who was after food for her, her child and her mother. I supplied her with some sun-cream and then gave her a sack of maize – I thought there was only about 20KG in it but it turned out there was 50kg or more in it. Ooops. I could hardly take it back, so she did quite well out of me.
Supplying the Sainsburys Factor 50 and maize
I also paid a visit to a woman with a bad leg – she showed me the x-rays and I wanted to pretend like I knew what I was talking about but I spent most of the time trying to work out which way up and around the x-rays should be. Considering my job for a while was dealing with hip and knee x-rays I really should have done better. She had broken her leg the year before and it had not been set. My medical training gleaned from watching Casualty and ER told me she needed it rebroken and set properly. From a pot of money I’ve enabled her to get to a hospital, see a doctor and get treatment and medication but if it is successful then I’ll be very surprised as my experience of Tanzanian healthcare for the very poor is not exactly a good one.
I also met up with Martha who is a 10 year old AIDS orphan. A poker friend gave me some money to support a young child for a year and she was picked. It costs £45 for the year and that will be held by a teacher at the blind school who will ensure she has uniforms, shoes, food and everything she could need for the next 12 months. Friends of mine support African kids through things like ActionAid and they cost £20 a month. I’d love to know why it costs so much more doing it that way.
A quick chat with Martha
My final job was to get 16 children of the blind measured up for uniforms as well as 3 guys who hang around at my house. This trip I’ve now supplied 60 uniforms and it is one of my larger expenses but an important one to do even if it is not as essential as other areas I operate in.
The final batch of Buigiri uniforms
Friday 18th March
I went in to town to get the last of the things on my shopping list for this trip. The day went surprisingly smoothly – there are always issues when going in to town but this trip I got a ride in and out with a teacher. He might be visiting England this year so I had to go with him to Immigration and write a letter vouching for him. I hope he does make it as it’ll be pretty cool showing him life in the UK. As I had access to a car I also bought two sewing machines for the village. There is such high demand for these machines as they enable the owner to generate money all year round by either making or repairing clothes. The recipients did not know they would be getting them and it was quite fun springing the surprises.
This was paid for by a raffle I held at Christmas.
And this one was paid for by a friend in my office who gave me £60 to use in Tanzania
Saturday 19th March
I paid a visit to Yusuphu in the morning. He is an elderly blind man who scratches a living making local brooms and he also has a garden he is passionate about in which he grows fruits and vegetables – including some very hot chillis he gave me. One friend who gave me some money is a gardener and so I used some of this money to help Yusuphu with his gardens. It will provide seed as well as a hosepipe.
Yusuphu outside his home
I also visited Samuel’s house. He is a sighted helper at the Adult Blind Centre and he is in line to get a chicken rearing project. However he wants it situated at his house rather than in the centre. I was opposed to this but said I’d visit his family and home and make my mind up. After seeing them I decided to back down. There are a few reasons for this but the main one being is he is the only one at the centre whose family live off-site as he sleeps in the old abandoned communal chicken coop.
Samuel and his family
Kieran was arriving today. Kieran is a friend from Bristol. For the past couple of years he has sponsored some kids at school and this year I suggested he come out with me. He is also a bit of a climber and as soon as he found out Mt Kilimanjaro was in Tanzania he was sold. He had flown in to the north of the country a week before and climbed the mountain before taking the 11 hour bus journey to Buigiri. Things didn’t go too smoothly though as all the buses were full but between me on the end of a phone line and a few Tanzanians who took him under their wing, he got to the village, even though it involved standing for the final 250km or so of the bus journey.
It didn’t take Kieran much time to get along with everybody
Sunday 20th March
The day was kept as free as possible to give Kieran a chance to settle in. Although having a quiet day is nearly impossible to achieve due to the constant stream of visitors to my house. Kieran was put to work straight away measuring out maize in my house for a family who turned up looking for assistance. There was also a girl who needed some help with buying exercise books and other school items plus I met with a woman who I’m setting up with a small business making and selling tea and small snacks by the road. This was paid for by a friend who kindly sent me $50 and asked for it to be used on a self-sufficiency project.
In the afternoon we held a dance competition and a quiz at the school. This was split into two categories – the blind and the visually impaired. I’m glad there weren’t any more categories though cos I completely ran out of questions. Trying to think of general knowledge a blind 10 year old African might know is not easy especially when I also need to be able to translate it. Although capital cities proved to be a popular area. As did English cities – football clearly played a large part in their education as the cities went like this: London, Manchester, Stoke City, Everton, Birmingham, Chelsea etc
With the various quiz and dance winners holding up their booty
We also met up with Enock, the brother of Martha. After posting Martha’s pic on FB a friend from these forums msged me to offer similar support for another child and her brother got picked.
Blowing bubbles on the steps of my house. The children would then huff and puff to ensure they flew as high and as far as possible.
Putting Kieran to work. He isn’t actually cutting cocaine but is rather dividing 45kg of powdered soap in to 100 equal amounts ready to be distributed the following day.
In the evening we did a road trip to a couple of towns 30km or so away. We were joined by a bunch of teachers. Unfortunately there was a shortage of meat but we made up for it with plenty of beer. Some of these guys can really drink. The final bar we went to had 6.5% beer. I stayed well clear of it. The guy who was knocking it back soon passed out.
On the lash.
Mmmmmmeat. The plan was to have around two plates per person but due to the shortage of dead animals we had to split this about 10 ways.