I feel like I have neglected this blog for far too long. Despite not posting, 2017 has been a busy year for projects in Tanzania and I’ll highlight some of them here. Thank you to all who have donated money – I have some very kind friends. Also, thank you to both Our Lady Queen of Heaven School in London and Ampleforth College in Yorkshire who have continued with their support.
As always, there is a pressing need for food. Tanzania has endured yet another drought and life is particularly hard for the villagers of Buigiri. I arranged for food to be distributed on a number of occasions. Here is a little video where one of the villagers gives thanks in Swahili, on behalf of his friends, for the assistance. The second video is a brief explanation in English about the first.
The number of children at the Blind School is growing. I have been involved with a program whereby a teacher visits rural communities to look for children with eye problems. The parents are then informed of the blind school and I take care of the various costs associated with getting the child to the school and established as a student. As a consequence of this, as well as other factors, there is a shortage of beds and children often have to share. I have provided a couple of bunk beds and a number of mattresses for the dormitories . I have also supplied a large number of school uniforms throughout the year for the pupils at the blind school as well as at other local schools.
The blind children play a game called goalball. The attacking team throws the ball along the ground and the defending team has to prevent it from slipping past them and hitting the wall. Much like in blind football, where visually impaired athletes wear eye masks to ensure they have zero vision, the children wear the same masks to keep things fair. They compete against other Tanzanian blind schools but they have been held back by a lack of kit. A couple of years ago I repaired the potholes in the goalball pitch and this year I have supplied them with the kit they need, including the specialist balls, face masks and sports kit.
I have set up a number of small pig rearing projects. I’ve supplied 13 families with two piglets each. The hope is that when they are fully grown they can be sold for meat and make a healthy profit which can then be reinvested. This kind of project can be very risky though. When the only resource your family has is the pig in the garden, then when somebody falls ill the temptation is there to cash in on the livestock. Hopefully a handful of the projects work in the long term.
I have continued to support a student called Frank at university. I have sung his praises in previous posts, but he is a remarkable man from the village who has managed to excel academically in spite of his living conditions and the poor standard of local secondary education. He is now studying for an engineering degree in Dar es Salaam. He has a little over a year until graduation and then he will be in a great position to find a well-paid job and he can then support others from his community. Even as a student, he is involved in initiatives to improve the living standards in rural areas.
One other area I have tried to focus on over the years is helping mothers start small businesses. I think it is important to empower the women in the community. They often carry out much of the hard work, yet they do not always control the family finances. On many occasions I have seen hungry families at home whilst the fathers are sat under a tree drinking homebrew. This year I have helped several women start businesses, such as opening small cafes (such as Esther in the photo below) or preparing snacks to sell in the market.
There have also been a number of much smaller projects such as repairing houses, paying medical expenses, setting up an after-school English Club and supporting students at Primary school. One such student is Gaston, who has recently graduated and hopes to attend Secondary school in 2018.