Monday 21st March
I had yet more morning visitors. This time a woman with a bad leg. It was in a very uncomfortable brace and she dragged her foot behind her as she walked. She expected me to know what should be done and it took quite some effort for her to tell me she needed a new brace and what it would cost. Unfortunately it was beyond the realms of my budget but I made a contribution towards it though she’ll likely never find the remainder of the money and even if she did then my slice will have been long ago spent on food. I also had a visit from Stefano and Nyema and their grandmother. I wrote last year about their father and how he was weak and I suspected he had AIDs. Well, he died of AIDs a few months ago and his children are now orphaned. My sister sent me a little money which is now being used to support these two children. One of the quirks of this kind of thing is we can’t actually tell their grandmother who they live with that funding is in place or she will cause trouble for the teacher administering the money and accuse him of withholding her money. So instead they’ll be bought items throughout the year and will be told the money gets sent out to Tanzania a few quid at a time. When you provide help and support to people in need you’d think they would co-operate and make things run smoothly, but this is rarely the case. Africa is a weird place sometimes.
The woman modelling her leg. I think her name is Maureen.
Stefano and Nyema with their grandmother
At midday we went to one of the maize traders to meet up with 20 of the village elderly or disabled who are most in need of aid. Word had leaked out and there were 27 people waiting for us. We extended the budget to accommodate the extra people but then plenty more people turned up demanding their names be added to the list of those getting food. It just was not possible though – not only because of our budget but also because of cash – we knew what we could get out from ATMs before our departure and there were already so many other things to buy so we stood firm and said no to people, some of whom got angry. We pushed ahead and sorted the 27 families out though. Each got 40kg of maize so that was over a tonne distributed and means that over the course of hte trip I’ve distributed around 10,000 meals worth of food.
The gent on the right is having his maize measured out
With the 27 people and their sacks
We grabbed a quick lunch of BBQed goat – fortunately Kieran had no qualms about eating local food. I showed him the butcher and he was still happy enough, so that made life easy.
Not much of the animals goes to waste. Can you spot the goat’s face? Yours for 40p.
After lunch we went back to my house to collect various items to be distributed at the school. During previous town trips I’d bought 100 sets of shirts, trousers, pants, socks, shoes, toothbrushes/toothpaste, powdered soap, blocks of soap, sweets, pens, skin cream and biscuits. Kieran and I had sorted these out as much as possible the previous day and we then set about ensuring each child got the correct sized item. It was hard work but we were eventually finished.
What I’d managed to squirrel away
Sizing the shoes up, ready for distribution
Playing at home in the evening
In the evening my cook didn’t turn up so we ate out instead
Tuesday 22nd March
Kieran, myself and one of the teachers headed in to town first thing. We were going to the area where many of the blind beggars live to supply them with food and the children with uniforms, shoes and exercise books. The food was funded by Kieran who had raised some money from friends for climbing Kilimanjaro. The local leaders had picked 26 families and each received maize flour, bananas, biscuits, beans and other items. The distribution went smoothly although the process was fairly slow. We had finished everything by mid-afternoon though including various speeches.
Handing out the uniforms
Some of the blind with their food
The children holding their new uniforms
Kieran being mobbed for sweets
When we left we went for lunch at a really nice local hotel which I hadn’t been to before. They had cold drinks, armchairs and a pool table. Perfect. It was just a shame we were pushed for time. Our next destination was the market as I had some snagging to take care of – the day before we were short of a certain size of trouser so we had to go buy up a bunch. These worked out about 4x more expensive than where I usually buy them from at the auction but we just didn’t have time to go there and wait for the right sizes to appear. Still, at about £1.30 per item they are still pretty cheap.
Wednesday 23rd March
This was my final full day in the village so it was full of goodbyes, finishing up jobs and introducing Kieran to the handful of important people he had yet to meet. At 9am we visited both Buigiri Mission Primary School and Uguzi Primary School to distribute some uniforms and shoes. The children had been to my house for fittings the previous week but the tailor had made some mistakes which caused the whole process to take longer than intended. Consequently the next few jobs were rather rushed. Next up was a visit to the village dispensary. Some friends had given me glasses to bring out and I had about 60 pairs. Half went to the doctor at the dispensary and the remainder went to the teacher at the blind school in charge of visual impairments. Glasses are in huge demand out in Tanzania and these should fill the hole for the time being. I’ll certainly bring more with me on future trips though.
With ten of the kids getting their uniforms
Handing some of the glasses to the village doctor
Next stop was lunch and then off to the Adult Blind Centre. The purpose of the visit was to distribute their uniforms but my house was also full of random things like clothing and shoes so we took all of that up with us as well, plus a large box of medication I’d bought to restock the dispensary I’d started the year previous.
Handing the medication over
A final pic with the guys at the Adult Blind Centre
In the evening we had the leaders of the Tanzanian League for the Blind for dinner and a damned fine meal it was too. Then we were off to the pub for a final night of debauchery. We managed to drain every last drop of alcohol from the place which we were rather proud of, but we felt it the next morning. The bargirl Anna took quite a shining to Kieran also which caused a large amount of hilarity – I managed to get him to unknowingly propose to her. I wish them both all the best.
From LtoR: Watermelon, tomatoes with onion and chilli, pilau, goat in a tomato sauce, potatoes, more pilau, pore potatoes, roasted goat.
Thursday 24th March
My bus departed late morning so I spent my final hours saying goodbyes and packing. I was also given some final presents. I think my tally of gifts received is: a dozen sticks of maize, one live duck, one watermelon, one woven bowl and a small traditional musical instrument called a Zeze.
The three weeks seemed to have flown by and it was very sad departing. Kieran remained in the village for a further two days before heading back up north for his return flight home. I plan to return in March next year and hopefully others will come out as well.
Saying goodbye at the blind school