Thursday, 31 August 2006

Tanzania: SCAW in Toangoma

On the way to the distribution this morning at 5:30 AM we were travelling in the dark. There are no street lights and it is almost impossible to see people riding bikes, or deep potholes or "caution bumps" with no paint on them. Driving is definitely a scary experience!

We arrived at 6:30 AM to find the truck carrying the 600 bedkits stuck in deep sand. Rather than unload and reload the truck the volunteers dug down and placed two-by-eights under the rear tires and pushed and pushed until they were able to move it.

Today was the hottest day we have experienced yet, with temperatures reaching close to 46 degrees. All of us felt the heat today but how could we complain when we found out that one hundred children had walked ten kilometres today to get their bedkits! On the way home the empty bedkit truck loaded all of them and their bedkits on the truck and took them home. Smiles all around.

The volunteers from Tanzania are awesome. On April 6th the school had received a well from a church organization and it was great to see them filling their cups and pumping the water -- certainly a real luxury for all of them.

There were so many thank you’s and curtsies when the children received their bedkit.

We came home hot and tired to no power again but most satisfied that SCAW has once again made a difference!

"Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile."

Thank you SCAW.

Gail Duncan,
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Tanzania: Sunday, Kisauke. Monday, Chamazi.

On Sunday we had big plans to return to Kisauke, where we did our first distribution to see how the bedkits were being used in the homes. This was accomplished by a bumpy ride on the last half of the journey and a meeting with the elders of the community as a courtesy. This was quite an adventure, going inland via foot paths to visit the selected homes. On our way home we visited the first Prime Minister of Democratic Tanzania, Mr. Kawawa. What an honour that was for the Team.

Further on we stopped at a restaurant to have cold refreshments, to beat the heat, and to be treated to a meal of BBQ goat ribs, chips, and bananas. Later in the evening, we had dinner with a Tanzanian family. The home was right on the Indian Ocean, no less. Throughout the day we experienced real Tanzanian hospitality. We had great meals and good fellowship.

On Monday, August 28th, we had the seventh distribution at Chamazi. We were also hosting a guest travelling with us from Togo: Mr. DEKALIKAN Kouma. He is observing our activities as we do the distribution. The distribution went well and as usual the children were very happy to get their bedkits. The smiles on their faces and the many expressions of "thank you" and "asante" are just thrilling.

Each distribution has it own character and we never know what to expect, but we are always amazed by the special things we observe. The children of the Chamazi school keep four cows on premises as a project. It was interesting to see them bring bundles of grass that were laid out in a row for the cows to eat. The cows were let out of the shed and had their grass. They mooed all day so we could not forget them.

We had yet another mother of twins visit. We were delighted to see them.

On behalf of the children of Tanzania, thanks very much to all the donors. We have the wonderful previlege of seeing all the happy faces on a daily basis. This is an unforgetable experience.

Maxene Henry,
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Tanzania: Saturday's Distribution

Friday night, we were kept awake until 3 AM by the thunderous vibrations of an outdoor rock concert just a block away. Then, at 4 o’clock our canine friends next door began their barking. Wake up call was at 5 AM! With next to no sleep we set off in the dark for our Saturday distribution.

I was on hand-out duty -- the enviable task of actually handing out the bed kit. After handing them their kit and saying "yako," each one of the children smiled and curtsied and said "Thank you." They are so happy with their gifts that all our donors have given them. I only wish that you all could have the pleasure of seeing their appreciation. But you will with the pictures you receive.

We all want to thank our many friends back home who most generously donated baby and children’s clothing for us to hand out to the many needy mothers in Tanzania. We'll be bringing back photos with us when we come home.

After the distribution, it was back to Dar over spine-snapping roads and through unbelievable traffic. Our trusted driver, Tom, knows the intricacies of managing the roads and he always returns us to our home away from home safely and happily.

We were tired when we arrived back home and slept soundly. Hopefully, our new little friends had as good a sleep as we did.

All for now.

Laura Belton,
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Monday, 28 August 2006

Tanzania: SCAW in Mzambarauni

We started our morning at 5:15 AM -- a half hour later than usual. Everyone got their own breakfast, made their lunch and we were off to the distribution site by 6:30 AM.

The traffic was busy but moved right along. The amount of exhaust fumes from the numerous diesel is unbelieveable. The roads -- even the paved roads -- have huge holes big enough to damage your car. It seems that in Tanzania, if you want to avoid the holes and rough areas, you have to move into the oncoming traffic lane when it's clear so that you'll miss the trouble. Everyone seems to take it as normal and slows down or moves over. We have not seen any road rage here. There are also occasional speed bumps -- you must slow right down for these or you may be launched into space.

The distribution was at a school at Mzambarauni which is very close to Dar es Salaam. The schoolyard was rectangular with buildings on three sides. It had many trees with lots of shade to protect the children while they waited to receive their bedkits. The only place to take pictures without shadows was an open area in the centre of the yard. The distribution went extremely well and we finished as heavy clouds started to move in.

All the children were beautiful. Many of the children attending could understand enough English to follow our instructions.

Several physically disabled children received bedkits. Although these children were unable to communicate with us verbally, their smiles showed their pleasure.

During the last two distributions we have had several albino Tanzanian children. These children have very white skin and white hair. It is difficult to see their eyes as they are always squinting since the sun hurts their eyes. These children face a bleak future as they may go blind and they almost always develop multiple skin cancers due to the sun damage. This condition seems to be very common in this country, much more than we would ever see in Canada. There is a great need for these children to have proper sun glasses, wide rim hats, and strong sun screen, but many of them cannot afford such luxuries. During these distributions we have been able to give some of these children baseball caps. They should have hats with wide brims all the way around but a baseball cap is a start.

All the children were very appreciative of the articles they received. They showed their happiness by their wonderful smiles and thank you's. We feel very honoured and humbled to be able to accept these children's gratitude on your behalf.

Thank you for the support for the children.

Helen Brown,
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Tanzania: Day 4 in Mvuti

Today we went to a different municipality from the previous sites. We went to Mvuti in the municipality of Ilala. The previous three sites were in Kinondoni. Although we left at 6 AM there were many Tanzanians with the same idea. The vans were packed with twice as many passengers as there were seats and the children were neatly dressed in their clean blue and white uniforms. Some people were wearing laced shoes with socks, slippers, or fancy shoes with one-inch heels -- some were bare footed. Groups of two or more were holding hands as they walked through the grassy fields to school.

We passed a few bicycles -- not as many as one would expect. A few riders had one or two passengers. There were more bicycles carrying coal than there were carrying people. We saw wheel barrows with -- on average -- six white plastic twenty-litre containers of water being pushed through neighbourhoods and along the roadway. One stopped at a school where the driver delivered a container to the staff office. Many schools collect the water from the roof in large plastic tanks. One school had a 3x3x1 metre open concrete tank in front of it. The tank was dry.

We arrived at Mvuti just before 7 AM. The children lined up with their coconut straw brooms in hand and started to sweep the leaves from the sandy ground. They tried to move together as if in a chorus line.

Many children travelled to school with containers filled with water for the trees and plants. This municipality did not seem as dry as the others we visited. Today for the first time during our distribution, it rained. We were delighted and thankful for the cooler moment. It lasted for two minutes. There were sixty children selected from Mvuti to receive bedkits, the others were travelling from other schools in the same district -- sixty from each of ten schools. The truck used for the bedkit delivery was sent to pick up other children who lived too far away from Mvuti to walk and had no other means of travelling to receive their bedkit.

Today was special and heartwarming. There were a few sick children: one very weak, another who left the hospital so she could receive her bedkit, one in a wheelchair, and three albino children with special needs. All the children were delightful. One said "I love you," in English.

All 600 children showed up and each received a bedkit donated by you kind people.

Thank you.

Grace Wood
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Friday, 25 August 2006

Tanzania: Day 3 in Mtambani

On our way to the Mtambani distribution at dawn, we pass many, many people walking on the side of the road. Men ride bicycles with baskets at least three feet wide loaded with charcoal to be sold. Elegantly dressed women in long dresses and head scarves walk with jugs or baskets on their heads.

The dala dala mini buses, which in Canada would hold nine passengers have as many as twenty people travelling to work.

The river beds are almost dry as Tanzania has been experiencing a drought -- so we have electricity only every second day. All of us have to plan ahead for cooking our meals and for hot water for showers.

Arriving at the Mtambani site over very bumpy stretches of road, our first order of the day is to select the best location to take the pictures -- according to the rising sun. Then the trucks with the 600 bedkits are unloaded.

Mama Wandoa's volunteers look after getting the children dressed in their new colourful pajamas and then away we go!!!!

Mothers of the children come to help them carry their precious gift home. Some of the children come from neighbouring schools and have walked up to eight kilometers to receive their bedkit. One mother arrived swaddling 3-month-old twins. She was HIV positive and had four other children as well. Unfortunately, her husband had passed away recently. There are a lot of sad stories -- but many joyful moments as well -- during the distribution.

To all SCAW donors we want to express to you the joy we feel when a child receiving a bedkit says "Thank You" or "God Bless You." We know how privileged we are to accept their gratitude on your behalf.

Gail Duncan
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Tanzania: Day 2 in Salasala

The SCAW team arrived in Salasala shortly after 7:00AM, to a beautiful, picture-perfect, sunny morning with a back drop of the Indian Ocean in the distance. We were pleasantly surprised to see that many of the students were already present. It seems they were so excited in anticipation of our visit. They smiled and and many greeted us very respectfully in English.

In a short while we were in attendance at the morning’s assembly. The students sang songs, ending with the Tanzanian anthem, accompanied by a small band. Then Tom Belton, our team leader, greeted the children in Tanzanian, with the help of Mama Wandoa. The children and faculty were delighted.

When the distribution commenced, it was so pleasing to observe how orderly and well behaved the children were.They waited patiently in line all dressed up in the colorful, new pajamas they were given as a part of their bedkit. Although some of them were a bit shy, the expressions of joy on their faces when their pictures were taken, and when they received their bedkits, were priceless.

The distribution of 600 bedkits went very smoothly. We even surprised ourselves as to how timely we accomplished this rewarding event. We are now getting ready for our third day of distribution.

Maxene Henry
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Tanzania: Day 1 in Kisauke

The Flavour of Tanzania 2006
Hello Everyone,

We were up and ready to roll at 6AM, full of anticipation -- a bit nervous, but nonetheless looking forward to the day that lay ahead for us.

With four people who have never been to Africa and with two of these on their first SCAW Distribution, I felt a little apprehensive. It usually takes several distribution days before the team begins to function properly. On this, our very first day, it didn't take me long to realize that we were going to be all right. We have a special group here.

Kisauke School was like any other Tanzanian School. It is located just outside of Dar es Salaam and is a cluster of five buildings, with a square in front of the buildings where most of the activity takes place, and the playing fields behind the school proper.

Tanzania is spending its "debt forgiveness" on education and health care. We could see the beginnings of a new building here as well as a general sprucing up of the buildings.

For a first distribution, it didn't take long for everything to begin running smoothly despite the heat and the unmerciful sun. The temperature was in the low 90s. The sun however, beat down on those of us who were unfortunate enough to have to spend much of the time in it. It was draining; it was tiring; it was strength sapping. I have never drunk so much water in my life. With all the water consumed, one would expect to have to run to the washroom often -- but not so. Your body uses up the moisture at a rapid rate.

The one constant was the children. To describe a Tanzanian child one uses words like: dignified, patient, mannerly, and well behaved. What a delight it was for us to witness their singing of the Tanzanian national anthem with heart and gusto followed by their school song.

I had the privelege of giving a talk in my broken Swahili to the kids, telling them who we were, that we came in peace and love, representing other people in the world who cared very much for them. It was well appreciated judging from their reactions.

This year SCAW has instituted a survey in an effort to find out as much as we can about our recipients' reactions and opinions about the usefulness of our bedkits. I spoke through a translator with about eighty people with a bedkit spread out before them. It was an interesting exchange. I used the opportunity to deliver the message that many of these bedkits were donated by children the same ages as their children, by churches, by service clubs, through "In Memorium," and by the average person. The parents indicated very strongly and unmistakably that they appreciated this help from overseas. It was heartwarming to see their reactions, all the while thinking of those children in our schools who so actively support their own SCAW projects.

We were spreading goodwill and happiness wherever we went and enjoying every minute of this precious time of sharing. Upon completion, we got into our van, waving goodbye to teacher and child, shouting out Kwahari -- Good bye -- to the sea of happy faces that surrounded us.

It is burned in our memories --- and another day is awaiting us with more joy, peace, and love to spread.

Until next time,

Tom Belton, signing out.
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Tanzania: Arriving in Tanzania

We send greetings to you from Tanzania. Our time here thus far has been very rewarding, and very busy. At times it is very challenging to get Internet facilities.

The team is pictured from left to right: Grace Wood, Tom Belton (Team Leader), Maxene Henry, Gail Duncan, Helen Brown, and Laura Belton.

After literally months of preparation and the uncertain travelling climate after the events in England the week before we left, our team of SCAW travelling volunteers met at Toronto Airport at 11:00 AM on August 16th, all primed for what might lay ahead of us in the next three weeks plus. We had prepared as best as we could over the previous five and a half months ... and then we were off.

Fortunately we were not flying through Heathrow, but through Washington Dulles Airport. It took us a little over an hour to get to Washington and then seventeen long hours to Addis Abiba, Ethiopia through Rome. And that was a long day of flying -- fully twenty-five and a half hours. Our stay in Addis Abiba, although short, was very interesting since we met very interesting and friendly Ethiopians. They were most welcoming and graciously friendly. It kind of made us wish we were going to be staying there longer. Next time we will have to make a longer stopover.

We arrived in Dar es Salaam at noon on Friday, August 18th to be met by our hosts Mama Wandoa and her son, Alfred, and his three children: Junior, Annette, and Pee. They took us to the apartment we are renting where we rested up for dinner.

It wasn't long before I was behind the wheel of our car taking my team out for our initial dinner. Fortunately I was able to remember where the Slip Way was -- even after dark.

Saturday night we attended an AIDS Awareness meeting that Mama held with a youth group, detailing the topic of AIDS and AIDS prevention.

On Sunday we attended church with Mama where I gave my first try at Swahili, telling the congregation who we were and what we stood for -- yes, all in Swahili. It was a grind, but I was able to get through it in an understandable manner to the delight of the parishoners. After the service I presented a copy of the Ottawa Citizen's extensive coverage of AIDS and the recent AIDS Conference in Toronto to Mama and the Pastor. It was appreciatively received.

In concluding this first of what I hope will be many interesting reports detailing our experiences and adventures here in Tanzania, I wish to lay out the format for future reports. Each member of our team will try to send at least two reports so you can see our trip through their eyes. I want them to be as open and frank with their own analysis and descriptions of their experiences as they see it.

I sincerely hope that you will enjoy and learn about our important work from these reports.

We send you all our best wishes and love.

Tom Belton, Team Leader
SCAW 2006 Tanzania Travelling Team

Tanzania: Photo Album 2006