Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Bangladesh: Icing on the Cake

Arrius greets a new bedkit owner
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
Hello everyone, Arrius here.

We have finished our Bangladesh 2007 SCAW trip! It is over already and things have sure gone by fast. I hope you all enjoyed reading my blog posts. I am sure the SCAW team will gladly share our stories with all of you when we return to Canada. The trip has been wonderful and I have seen, experienced, and learned many things.

It has been fun writing the blog and keeping all of you up-to-date. I am now finishing my part and turning over this last post to Dave who will conclude it.
Click for larger view.
Bangladesh 2007 Album
Over 900,000 Bedkits Distributed

This morning, November the 7th, we completed the distribution of 7,500 bedkits to the children of Bangladesh. [Editor's Note: Bringing our total to 905,350 bedkits since Murray Dryden's first distribution in 1970.]

In order to accomplish this successfully we needed to be well organized and efficient. The SCAW team of Don, Roberta, Judy, Clive, and Arrius was more than equal to this challenge. I am so proud of them. They were very competent, demonstrated their caring for the children, and worked very well with the Rotary and Lion's Club members and their volunteers.

One of the sacrifices the team had to make was the curtailling of some of the social interactions with the local people at each distribution site. They also were limited in opportunities to really see the children acting as children. It was as if they saw the children in a classroom setting rather than on the playground and at recess.

This afternoon we had a chance to see our bedkit recipients as playful children. We visited the village of Shambhupura. Last week fifty children from this village had travelled by bus for two and a half hours to a distribution site in Dhaka. There they received their bedkits and today Rotarians Abideen and Maswoodul took us back to Shambhupura to see the homes of these children.

All together we visited about fifteen homes and were invited in to meet the parents and the children. As we moved from house to house we were followed by the children, laughing and crowding around, just as children do throughout the world. It was a wonderful conclusion to our distribution trip.

Last night we attended a wrap-up dinner with the Lion's Club group, Mr. and Mrs. Hadi, and a number of their volunteers. Then tomorrow it will be a day of shopping and sightseeing followed by a dinner hosted by the Rotary Club of Dhaka.

This weekend the SCAW team heads in different directions. Clive, Judy, and Dave head back to Canada, while Don, Roberta, and Arrius begin another adventure by going to Dheli (and staying in a $12 a night hotel!). They will be meeting up with some of their family and travelling around India.

I want to thank Arrius for his great work in posting our blogs and pictures. He is a wonderful young man who has added much to the team. I call him "Stretch" because he spends all of his waking hours working hard at the distribution site, eating, or stretching his muscles. He is very accomplished at all of these tasks.

My thanks to the SCAW team and our overseas volunteers

Dave Dryden, team leader

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Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bangladesh: SCAW on TV

Bangladesh 2007 Album
The 2007 Bangladesh SCAW team has been on TV.

Our faces have been shown nationwide on at least two different TV stations in Bengali and English language channels. We have been aired at three different times for the 6, 8, and 10 o'clock news for the past three days.

Unfortunately, none of the SCAW team has been able to watch TV because we are either on the road or in bed at the time, but our hotel receptionist at the desk has kept us informed.

Today has been another great day and in fact it has been the second time so far that we have distributed exactly the right number of bedkits that we were supposed to, with a distribution of 700 bedkits.

We are becoming quite familiar with a few Bengali words that we find useful in our distributions such as:
  • Hasho*, which means smile, or laugh. We use this for when the children stand in front of the camera.
  • Asho, which means to come, used in guiding the children from station to station.
  • Jow, which means to go.
  • Meira pronounced may-ra, which means girls.
  • Chilera, pronounced chile-ra (like the country), which means boys.
*The words were spelled to the best of our knowledge.

Our Bangladesh adventure is almost coming to an end as we have two more distributions left!

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

Bangaldesh: Half way through

A colourful display as we gathered the last hundred children
for a group picture ... can you spot the SCAW team?
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
We have passed the half way mark! We have distributed just over 4,000 bedkits.

We have finished working with the Rotarians and now are working with the Lion's Club. We've had our first two days with them doing distributions in the Feni area. The team had a five-hour drive through scattered showers on the first distribution day.

Since Friday is the weekly Holy Day and children don't attend school, we were greeted by a crowd of villagers as well as the children who were all outfitted in their new, varied, and colourful outfits. The Lion's Club volunteers fit smoothly into their roles, the rain held off, and the children left with smiles and their new bedkits.

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
After spending the night in the area, we went to our second distribution. It was hot and humid, but the children waited patiently for their bedkits. The big excitement for the day came when a three-foot long poisonous snake was discovered in the storage room with the bedkits. A minor battle ensued, but the snake was the only casualty.

The team finished the day with a shopping expedition at the Hadi's store in Dhaka. Arrius is proving himself to be a very efficient shopper.

Judy Dryden and Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team members

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

Bangladesh: Thank you Rotarians and Rotaract members

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
Yesterday was our last day to distribute bedkits with the Rotarians. We did 800 that day and it went very smoothly. We even got a few breaks because the children would come to the site at different intervals and then needed to be changed with the help of the volunteers. We could tell the children were excited by the huge smiles on their faces as they felt the bedkit slowly landing on their heads.

It was great to have worked with the Rotarians. They have been a big help to us and i would also like to make mention of the volunteers who were from the Rotaract Club. They were also a great help in maintaining order and a good flow during the distributions.

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
We had some complications with the ride from the distribution site back to our hotel so we decided to go by rickshaw. It didn't take long before we rounded up six rickshaws with a SCAW member in each one and formed a line with a Rotarian in the front and back.

An experience it was!

After watching rickshaw after rickshaw bike by our cars and travel on the sides of roads wherever we went, we can say that we have ridden in one as well.

That night we were invited by Mr. Hussain for dinner at the Dhaka Club Limited where he is a member. It was fine dining and a splendid time to spend the evening with him.

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Bangladesh: Three days on the road

Dressed up, lined up, and waiting for pictures and bedkits.
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
We have just arrived back in Dhaka from a three-day-long road trip around the southern part of Bangladesh. We travelled by boat, steamer, and car. Our daily travelling time averaged about six hours a day.

However, it was all worth it because we made a difference to every kid who received a bedkit.

Our first day in Barisal was chaotic. It was the first time that a distribution had been held there and the villagers were unfamiliar with how SCAW distributions worked. They didn't understand all the details and consequently there was much organization that had to be done before we could begin.

The second distribution that day was much better. When we arrived all the children were already dressed and lined up. They were divided into boys on the left and girls on the right, and as the Sleeping Children team drove up and got out of our cars all the kids started to clap and smile as they saw us. It was very exciting for them.

Many of these children had travelled quite a distance and had dressed themselves up to look their best for this event. Some of the girls wore lipstick and eyeliner and even high-heels while the boys had their hair combed to one side and their shirts buttoned up and tucked in. Many of them were washing their feet and brushing their teeth with their fingers to look their best. How humbling it was to see this. It gave our team a look at how much it meant to them to receive their gift.

Loading bedkits and kids on the bus for home.
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
When we had distributed the bedkits, some of the children would come up to us and tap their forehead or even touch our toes to show us a sign of thanks and gratitude. Some would even come right up and ask us how we were doing and what our names were. They would have big smiles as they received their bedkit and then walk away saying "Thank you."

At the end of yesterday's distribution Clive got one of the girls to sing the Bangladesh national anthem which she did a very good job at. We all clapped when she had finished and Clive rewarded her with a bouquet of flowers.

So far we have distributed 2,400 bedkits and have given 2,400 children their sleep back.

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Monday, 29 October 2007

Honduras: Thank You Laurie-Beth

Harry and Laurie-Beth set up for the bedkit photos.

From Honduras 2007 Album 2
This is my first SCAW trip and I am fortunate to have experienced my first distribution with Laurie-Beth Davidson as team leader.

Throughout the distribution, I was impressed with Laurie-Beth's attention to detail; she coordinated the efforts of the SCAW team and the Honduran volunteers and ensured that each distribution went as smoothly as possible.

Laurie-Beth maintains the highest standards of accountability to our donors for which SCAW has become known and she is held in the highest regard by SCAW'S Rotary partners here in Honduras. She has worked hard to ensure that the guidelines for the manufacture and distibution of the bedkits are met. Our Rotary partners often referred to Laurie-Beth as part of their extended family. Their fondness and repect for her were always apparent.

This is most likely Laurie-Beth's last distribution as team leader - she has done an amazing job. It has been pleasure doing Honduras with you Laurie-Beth.

Judy Skelton, on behalf of the Honduras Team

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Honduras: Photo Albums 2007

Honduras 2007 Album 1
Honduras 2007 Album 2

Photos are added to the Honduras 2007 Photo Albums as each report comes in.
  1. Link to Album 1.
  2. Link to Album 2.

You can see a slideshow of all the photos in each album if you follow the links.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Honduras: The hand that gives, gathers

Laurie-Beth and the 4,500th bedkit recipient.
From Honduras 2007 Album 2
Our final distribution.

Over the past nine days we have been overwhelmed by the hospitality, generosity and gratitude of the Hondurans.

We have been welcomed into the homes of the very rich and the very poor. Honduras has embraced us and we have had the privilege of being closer to the heartbeat of the country than might otherwise have been possible.

The SCAW team & Rotary partners.
From Honduras 2007 Album 2

Our lives have been enriched by the smiles and the "gracias" of 4,500 beautiful children.

It has been a time of giving on behalf of our donors and of gathering indelible memories of the warmth we have felt here.

Judy Skelton, for the Honduras Distribution Team

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Friday, 26 October 2007

Honduras: Our biggest distribution

From Honduras 2007 Album 2
Today we visited a village located about 45 minutes out of Tecucigalpa.

It was built with much help from various churches after the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. In 2001 the community was ready for new residents. These people had been living on the river banks and their homes were swept away. They were welcomed to their new homes with the intention of creating a close-knit community which seems to be what was established.

Here we gave out 741 bedkits today -- the biggest single distribution in a day for this year.

The sun was hot but we had keen Rotary Club helpers and of course all the team members wanted to continue until every child left with new clothes, a bedkit on their back, and a smiling face.

Suzanne Dobinson, for the SCAW 2007 Honduras Travelling Team

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Bangladesh: First distribution complete

The current date/time in Dhaka, Bangladesh:
Our first day of distributions has ended.

We distributed 600 bedkits at two different locations in Sirajganj. It took about three hours to arrive there. On the way we crossed a bridge of 8 km, the largest bridge in Bangladesh.

Our first site was a college. When we arrived, the children were already dressed up in their new clothes and lined up, ready to get their picture taken and receive their bedkits. We finished fairly quickly and then walked to the other side of the field where we met with the kids and took pictures of them.

We then were driven to another site only fifteen minutes away where we distributed the last of the bedkits. About half of the group of kids there had travelled approximately 150 km to get there. They had taken a bus with some of their teachers all that way just to receive their special gift.

It is such an amazing thing to hear about people going that far for something that means a lot to them.

After finishing, we had successfully given out all 600 bedkits. We hopped back in the car and were treated to lunch by the Rotarians. It was a long drive back because of the dense traffic but we made it back to our hotel feeling quite tired.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will be up at 4 in the morning and ready to leave around 5 for a 4-hour long drive down south.

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Honduras: Two-day report

Making the bedkit mattresses.
From Honduras 2007 Album 2
Just getting up and decided to send a little note to let you know all is well. We have had a busy couple of days. The distributions went well and we were able to put a smile on 1,000 more beautiful children.

Our distribution on Wednesday was followed by a visit to the manufacturer of the mattress that is included in the bedkit. It was interesting to see the work conditions of the people working there. The work environment is very primitive in comparison to our Canadian standards.

In the evening we were hosted by the Rotary Club at a dinner during their weekly meeting. We were presented a certificate to thank us for our collaboration with their club in helping the children of their country. What a wonderful evening.

On Thursday, after the distribution, the guys (Jim and I) stayed at the hotel for some R & R (I caught up on backing up the bedkit photos we've taken so far) and the women were off to visit two general hospitals and a psychiatric hospital.
View from the restaurant.
From Honduras 2007 Album 2
Hilda will be writing more about this in the donor newsletter. At 5 PM we went up to the Cumbre Restaurant which is perched high in the mountain overlooking the city of Tegucigalpa.

Carlos, the director of the SCAW project of the Tegucigalpa Rotary Club, said it was higher than the CN Tower. I believe it. It was just turning dusk as we got there. We were able to get some pics but they did not show the true splendor of the view. What a wonderful supper! We treated Carlos and Pablo, our driver, to dinner. It is very little in comparison to what they have been doing for us.

Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in preparation for our biggest distribution in the morning -- 700 bedkits.

Harry Gauthier, reporting live from Tegucigalpa, Honduras

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Thursday, 25 October 2007

Bangladesh: The team has arrived

The SCAW team has successfully arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

We were pleasantly greeted by the Rotary and Lion's Club and escorted to our hotel. We settled in and made ourselves comfortable. Later that afternoon we gathered together and took a walk around the neighboroud and visited a few shops.

The Rotary Club joined us for a meeting and then treated us with a nice dinner. We have just finished our first SCAW meeting and we did a preview of what the bedkit will look like when on display for the pictures. Tomorrow morning we awake and leave for 6 a.m. to beat the morning traffic.

The SCAW team will be distributing our first 600 bedkits.

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Bangladesh: The 2007 travelling team

The Sleeping Children Around the World 2007 Bangladesh Travelling Team

Left to right: Clive Dunstan, Arrius Racioppo, Don Harris, Roberta Harris, Dave Dryden (Team Leader), Judy Dryden

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Honduras: Muchas gracias

Suzanne blows bubbles for the children.
From Honduras 2007 Album 2
Today our bedkit distribution took place in a very nice school where desks were painted, pictures were on the walls, and the indoor toilets flushed. This school was being used for our distribution because of its location and convenience. Needy children from eight schools in the area were brought to the site to receive their bedkits.

It was my pleasure today to interview some parents and children to get their feedback on the bedkit. The consensus was that everything in the kit is needed and would be useful. The hugs and expressions of "muchas gracias" were plentiful.

After the distribution, we were taken to visit families who had received bedkits last year. We left the city and the paved roads and went on a narrow, stone-littered path to get to the small village of about thirty homes. We were greeted by lots of moms and little children. We visited a few homes and were shown some of the items received in the bedkit. The mattress and pillow were still intact but stained. The towel was in good shape but we were told that the clothing was worn out.

The children seemed happy and enjoyed the entertainment provided by Suzanne and Judy: hand stamping, bubble blowing, and stickers.

A most interesting and not-to-be-missed experience for our team.

Hilda Reinauer-Stark, for the 2007 SCAW Honduras team

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Bangladesh: Leave your comments here

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Monday, 22 October 2007

Honduras: Official Recognition of SCAW's Contribution

Children welcome us with their school banner
From Honduras 2007 Album 1
Our distribution site today was thirty minutes from downtown Tegucigalpa, in a beautifully maintained school overlooking the lush hills and valleys in this region.

488 children from 8 schools in the area were the happy recipients of SCAW bedkits.

The First Lady of Honduras (the wife of the President) visited the site today and expressed her gratitude for the contribution that Sleeping Children makes to the health and well being of youngsters in Honduras. The First Lady is the patron and sponsor of the Healthy Schools Project, a government funded initiative that promotes the health of children in need by providing a breakfast program, gardening program, and health and dental care.

The First Lady of Honduras with bedkit recipients,
Rotary Club, and SCAW Members
From Honduras 2007 Album 1
Today, volunteers from the Healthy Schools Project helped us by organizing the children and translating for us at each stage of the distribution process. The SCAW Team appreciates the support of the Honduran volunteers and our Rotary partners who help to keep things running smoothly.

We are proud to be part of a team committed to enhancing the lives of the wonderful children here.

Judy Skelton, for the 2007 SCAW Honduras team

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Sunday, 21 October 2007

Honduras: Two schools today

Setting up for the photo: Harry, Hilda, Laurie-Beth
From Honduras 2007 Album 1
Today we had the pleasure of completing distributions at two schools.

At the first school we gave 511 bedkits to some very excited children. The children paid little attention to the various rain showers while they waited, except to giggle and shake the water off their heads.

It was interesting to see the layout of the this school with the picture area set up at the bottom of a long, steep cement staircase. The children were very used to running up and down, paying little attention to the obvious dangers.

This afternoon we drove a difficult passageway to a village in the hills. Although the school is new, it has no electricity and the school yard reflects an abandoned work area.

The children were delighted to be there awaiting our arrival. As the day progressed we had to work dilligently to ensure we were able to take the final pictures of the 389 children, as we were losing our natural light.

It is so heart warming and fulfilling to see the happiness in each child as they leave with their bedkits. As we loaded into the van one of the teachers caught us to offer her thanks and gratitude. We were as thankful for her committment as she was for ours.

Suzanne Dobinson, for the 2007 SCAW Honduras team

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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Honduras: First distribution complete

Children waiting for bedkits
From Honduras 2007 Album 1
Our first Honduras distribution is over and 511 smiling little children, aged 6-12, left the Escuela Jose Angel Ulloa school site with their very own bedkits!

They were so excited when we arrived at the site on one of the many hillsides overlooking Tegucigalpa.

We were met by crowds of parents and children greeting us with "Hola." and excited chatter. This particular site was not closed-in due to construction of more school classrooms and facilities -- another project of the Rotary Club that is working so hard with Sleeping Children to organize all the arrangements for the bedkits, the school children to receive the bedkits, and the various and sundry needs of the six SCAW travelling team members.

It was a warm sunny day as we began the distribution but heavy rain clouds came over the mountain tops and soon after we left the downpour began.

We were so pleased that the children all got home, up and down the mud road hills with their bedkits before the rain came -- a good beginning!

Laurie-Beth Davidson, for the 2007 SCAW Honduras team

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Friday, 19 October 2007

Honduras: The team has arrived

All is well!

We are in Tegucigalpa. We were greeted at the airport by members of the Rotary Club: Carlos, Sergio, Roberto and Fidel.

After a short trip to our hotel we checked in, freshened up and the team got together to plan for tomorrow, our first distribution.

We had a look at the bedkit and practiced setting it up for the distribution. We discussed our various roles for tomorrow and are eager to get started. The distribution that was missed today has been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon. Sunday will be a very busy day for us with two day's distributions.

Laurie-Beth took us on a tour of the hotel and then we went to the restaurant for an early dinner. We then retired to our rooms to rest for tomorrow.

Harry Gauthier, for the 2007 SCAW Honduras team

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Thursday, 18 October 2007

Honduras: Houston - We have a Problem!

Laurie Beth calls Carlos:
“Carlos, Help! We are stuck in Houston!”
The fog was really bad this morning, so we did not leave Toronto until approximately 9:00 a.m. We arrived in Houston at about 11:00 a.m. local time and seeing how there is only one flight to Tegucigalpa, Honduras per day, we had to stay over in Houston, without baggage.

Suzanne and I went to a mall to buy a few things (T-shirt & toothpaste) as our baggage is locked up at the airport waiting for the flight tomorrow to Tegucigalpa.

We have had to put off the first day's distribution to a later time. Carlos will arrange that for us I am sure. We had a chance to relax and eat (Texas-Style) and we will be up early in the morning to take our three-hour flight to Tegucigalpa.

All is well otherwise and we are looking forward to our first distribution.

For the Children

Harry Gauthier reporting live from Houston.

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Honduras: Leave your comments here

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Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Honduras: The 2007 travelling team

From Honduras 2007 Album 1

The Sleeping Children Around the World 2007 Honduras Travelling Team

Left to right: Harry Gauthier, Suzanne Dobinson, Laurie-Beth Davidson (Team Leader), Hilda Reinauer-Stark, Judy Skelton, Jim Stark

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Friday, 12 October 2007

Don't miss the next blog posts.

From Uganda 2007 Photo Album
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This month we have two teams leaving for distributions: a team going to Honduras leaves on October 18th to deliver 5,000 bedkits and a team going to Bangladesh leaves on October 23rd to deliver 7,500 bedkits.

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 10 — Kibaga

From Tanzania Album 10
A bitter sweet day!
Dedicated to our donors, who make it possible.

We arrived at rural Kibaga School on a beautiful Tanzanian morning. The temperature was perfect with blue skies all around, a wonderful change from yesterday’s humidity of 94%. Stately coconut trees formed the back drop for the photos. Following roll call, we were touched to hear a group of children orphaned by AIDS sing the following song they had composed for the occasion:
   Welcome to our school.
   We never thought it would happen.
   We are so happy you came here, please feel at home.

   We are orphans with lots of problems ... No food, no one
   To take care of us.
   We beg people to let us live with them.

               Twawashukuru wafadhili wetu mungu awazidishie
               Thank you very much. May God bless you.

   Today you have brought us a great gift.
   We are begging you to keep up your support.
   We pray that God will bless you more and more
   So you can help more children.

   Our teachers give us a good education
   They treat us with respect and do not discriminate.
   They teach us wisdom.

   We are begging you that this will not be
   The last time you visit our school.
   We did not expect it and we appreciate it.

   So many people have lots of money and big companies
   But they do not come to help us.
   They are not even empathetic
   But you have sent help to us.

   Now this is the last verse.
   The pen has run out of ink.
   We are so happy.
   May God bless you more and more
   So you can give happiness to more children.

From Tanzania Album 10
So that concludes the distributions. We are off for two days on another adventure to Mikumi – a national game park for a mini-safari.

Twawashukuru wafadhili wetu mungu awazidishie.

Linda Webb for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

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Tanzania: The Photo Albums

Tanzania 2007
Tanzania Album 1
Tanzania Album 2
Tanzania Album 3
Tanzania Album 4
Tanzania Album 5
Tanzania Album 6
Tanzania Album 7
Tanzania Album 8
Tanzania Album 9
Tanzania Album 10