The journey out here was long but otherwise uneventful. It makes the 27 hour door-to-door journey go much faster. It is always good to return to Buigiri – as although I often think about Tanzania when I am in England, it is hard to picture the exact feel of the place and the people.
The annual photo of what I brought with me
The first night was spent greeting various people in the village and introducing Shane to everybody. It can be information overload as there are so many people I interact with here and Tanzanians sure do love their greetings. After a kind invitation to dinner of roasted meat, rice and potatoes, we found our way down to the bar with some of the teachers. There I met Anna again who tried to marry me last year by slipping a ring on my finger when I was unawares. She is always entertaining although I’ve now acquired a sixth sense watching out for her creeping up on me.
The bargirl Anna giving an evil laugh as she plots our marriage
The first full day is always spent planning the future events. Shane asked before we got here what we would be doing each day and I never know for sure until I arrive. The time quickly fills up though as I try and tackle a long list of tasks. We visited a few of the leaders and loaded up on cash from one of them as I had sent it out in advance – relying on cash points when based in a rural village has been the bane of my life in the past. We visited the Rehabilitation Centre and had a meeting about what we would be doing with them this year. Fortunately I have refined their meeting techniques somewhat, so we were only in there for an hour or so. We also got to see some of the chicken farms I have set up for them over the past two or three years.
The meeting at the rehab centre felt a little like being back in the classroom
Jared is the chairman of the village and at the front is Emejohn, named after my sister Imogen
The very first thing a boy said to me this trip was ‘can I play the game?’. He meant my iPad. It is hard to get it off them at times.
We headed into town on the Rehab centre’s pickup and brought some flour for them. Each family received 25kg. My original plan had been to get it the following week but there is much hunger here and they asked if it could be done sooner. It means I get to cross a job off my list and get a ride in to town. As we had a vehicle we made sure it was loaded up with items for other projects and then it left for Buigiri leaving us free in town to finish a number of jobs. We made the most of the wifi in the smart hotel. Technology is coming along a pace in Africa – each week I get another friend request on Facebook from someone here. Most of their access it via a 2 square inch mobile phone screen, but somehow they manage.
When we returned to Buigiri we went to the centre to hand the flour over to the families and to collect our items. As expected we had some people outside our home waiting for our return. We had bought medicine in town for one woman who has had a skin condition and each year I supply her with what she needs. Hopefully this time it will clear up, but then I say that every year.
The rehab centre and their maize
Esther with her fresh stock of skin medication
This was our busiest day by far but we managed to get through it in good spirits. Early in the morning we headed to town by bus. Having tried to manage Shane’s expectations about local buses by saying how miserable they are, we in fact had a very good journey. We brought lots of clothes for the village and chalked a few things off our long list of things to also get. After a quick lunch and a trip to get medication for a woman who broke her leg the year before we decided to cop out and get a taxi home. It costs £10 rather than the 50p per person the bus costs but sometimes temptation becomes too great. Along the way we encountered a police checkpoint and it transpired our driver shouldn’t be behind the wheel because we headed off road and bypassed the police by driving through the farms.
We had a number of appointments in the afternoon in Buigiri, but first we had to plough through the visitors to our home. We had two blind women who had travelled some distance to see us and they were after assistance for all manner of things. We helped with uniforms and food and sent them on their way. Others came to collect things like medicine and then we managed to slip away and visit the houses of 5 people we had planned to meet. The first house belonged to Hogra – I was given £35 by a friend to use for a family affected by HIV. The father had died a number of years ago from the disease and the mother was infected. I have used the money to set them up with a small business selling tea and buns on the roadside. It isn’t enough to get a full blown gastronomic operation set up but she has been able to buy the flour, sugar, tea, coffee and other items she needs and she can build the business from there if she works hard.
Hogra and her 3 children with the beginnings of a mighty food empire
Stella and Maggie are two blind women who came to visit us. I complimented them on their colourful clothes.
We also visited Joel’s shop which I set up in 2008 and which grows each year – although it is still pretty small. He is a hard working blind man who wishes to maintain an independent life with his family. Well, as independent as you can get whilst being helped to get his business up and running. It means he can avoid living in absolute poverty, although times are still hard.
Another person we visited was Mr Kusenha. He is in my photos from last year collecting the iron sheets for his roof. His house looks great now and is dry all year around. Unfortunaly Mr Kusenha has not faired so well. He has had a stroke and he spends his time on a soiled mattress in a small room in the house. It was difficult talking to him without showing any emotion. It is such a depressing existance though as every day of his life will now be miserable and full of pain.
Kusenha’s shiny new roof
We then visited 2 more people where we distributed medicine or helped in other areas. I bumped in to Mr Maswaga who has an uncanny ability of always finding me in the village. He must be in his 80s and he has glasses thicker than milk bottles. Every year he invites me to his house and every year I find an excuse not to go because I know he wants me to build him a new one and I can’t do that. He made me feel guilty for always postponing my visits, and rightly so. However that didn’t stop me from saying I had to dash off but this time I was sincere as a car was waiting to take us to see the witchdoctor.
Jenny in her home. I provided some food but she also needed some planks of wood to repair the beams in her house. I had to decline as I have a little less money to spend on these kinds of things this year.
The witchdoctor’s father is a blind leader who I support. I have helped him start a small animal project which began with 8 chickens worth around £40 and now consists of 3 cows with a calf on the way which are valued at around £800. Not a bad investment though not one I can make a withdrawal from. His son the witchdoctor houses them at his house. Last year he names a cow after my sister and this year he has named the other two after myself and my father. The unborn calf is earmarked to be called Shane. The witchdoctor had organised traditional dancing for us, plus we watched a children’s choir who I supported last year by supplying them with a tape machine to sing along to. This is my third visit to his house and he is always so hospitable. He gave us sodas and also a giant live duck to take with us to eat.
Some traditional Ngoma dancing by the Wagogo tribe.
Their choirs are a little different to most UK choirs – I’m surprised they don’t tire themselves out too much to sing.
The presentation of a duck to us by Daodi the witchdoctor.
Imogen, Thomas and Giles. Don’t we make for a great family photo?