I will spare you all a sleep photo. This is a rare moment of peace in the living room. The bottles are left over from dinner the night before and the place could do with a bit of a tidy.
I was at the village bar the night before and collapsed into bed around 1.30, so I was a little tired getting up this early
Dawei and I leave the house.
We meet two friends. The four of us, including our shadows, head out. We are accompanied by a three legged dog called Shida (Swahili for problem). We must make for a strange sight.
We arrive at the church. We are there for the Baptism of Baby Tom. From now on, there shall always be a Tom in Tanzania.
We are told to arrive at 7.30 but it turns out things don’t start until 9. This level of punctuality is common place here, but I stupidly never learn and keep turning up on time. There is music playing though, so I have a bit of a dance
We are surprised to see our friend John. It turns out he is part of a small choir which will be singing.
The main man himself: Tom
We take our seats and manage to avoid being ushered to the very front
I chuckle at the slight inappropriateness of the girl’s top
Tom was fast asleep when he was lifted up to be baptised – his ensuing tears could have refilled the font
When we walked in, Dawei thought the font was a bowl to clean your hands and wash your face
I had prepared myself to stand up and introduce myself to the congregation, as is the custom for visitors. I wasn’t expecting to be dragged to the front.
After the service, we all file out. Everyone is formed in a circle outside and you walk around the circle shaking hands with everybody before joining the end of the line
There were perhaps 200 people, so it took a little while
I think this photo encapsulates how we feel after several hours of waiting and then being in church.
We stop for a quick liquid top-up. It gets pretty warm here and it is too easy to dehydrate.
We arrive at our destination: Tom’s grandmother’s house where we have been invited for lunch
The choir are also here. I know 4 of the five choir members well but never knew they were friends with each other, let alone sung together. They had superb voices. Individually they lead very hard lives, being blind in one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest countries is not exactly great, but when they sing together they really create something amazing.
Food time: rice and beans.
After, we head outside and spot this young woman
She wasn’t the only kid around though
I chat with some of the guys about the problems they face. George smashed his leg up pretty bad and needed to have a follow-up x-ray done in town
As we left, we spotted this example of local recycling
We arrive back in the school – this monument gives a potted history of the place
The school is on its holidays and so the only children here are the kids of the teachers. This is Nina, whose father is a good friend who teaches at the school
We get home and spy our cook Anna on the steps. All the cooking happens outside on a charcoal fire and it is such a slow process, which is why we employ someone.
I am visited by Isiah who is a builder when he doesn’t have an arm in plaster. Much like George, he was looking for small help getting to town for a checkup and to have the plaster changed
Albert and his brother Alfred pay us a visit to drop off a gift of damsons and a fruit which may be a guava
We hand out another football kit to a local boy. We have 60 shirts here, many of whom were gathered together by the Dempsey family in London called who took it upon themselves to get very involved in this work.
More visitors. More problems.
We make a break for it when our car comes to collect us.
On the left is Daodi. He is a much revered witchdoctor and each year he invites me to his home. His father is blind and I give him some support and Daodi is fantastic at reciprocating. On the right is Mr Omary. He is a fantastic help whilst I am here. He is a leader in charge of all disabled people in central Tanzania and that helps give me lots of access to people who it would be tricky to contact otherwise.
Daodi has several wives and he is keen that all his children learn the local dances so that the culture of the tribe is preserved for another generation.
It makes for fascinating viewing
We are not the only people watching, behind us are dozens of children
Daodi joins in the dancing. This is the first time I have ever seen him get involved and it felt exceptionally special. His hat and shoulder blades are made from monkey fur.
After the dancing and speeches, this little girl helps to clear up.
Our net stop is to visit the cows. These are 4 of the 7 cows the father of the witchdoctor now owns as a result of me starting him off with a small chicken project a few years ago.
Before we leave, Daodi kindly presents us with a duck to take away
The poor thing was so docile
We arrive home and spot this fellow outside the house
There is an intricate handshake which the guys do here which involes high-fives, finger flicking and bashing elbows together. We have managed to get a few to add this manoeuvre to the end
Food time. There are always 8-15 people here at supper time who need feeding and we usually have 4ish kg of rice and 2kg of meat prepared. We messed up today and supplied far too few sweet potatoes to take the place of the rice, so there wasn’t much to go around
Meanwhile some of the children meet Mr Duck. It is wrong to play with your food, but I guess we can make an exception.
Just before I go to bed, I see online that England is covered in snow. This photo of a snowman reminded me of the sand sculpture from earlier, just at a somewhat different temperature.