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.

Leave a comment here.

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

Tanzania: Leave your comments here

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the link.

After you click on the word "comments" or the link "Post a comment" you will be sent to a page that includes a graphic like the one at right.
  1. Type your comments in the box.
  2. Type the blue letters you see as Word Verification (to prove you're a human).
  3. Choose an identity.
    1. Your Google/Blogger account (if you have one),
    2. Your name and a link to your website (if you have one), or
    3. Anonymous. In this case, please be sure to include your name at the bottom of your comment.
  4. Click on the blue button to preview or click on the orange button to publish your comment.
Note: You cannot post comments on the Picasa pages.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 9 — Tungini

HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa
  • There are nearly 25 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa – 59% of them are women.
  • Two million children are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Only 13% of HIV-positive children have access to antiretroviral treatment.
  • Without treatment, one-third of infants infected with HIV die before reaching age one. Half die before age two.
(Sources: UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO) More information at: The Stephen Lewis Foundation
From Tanzania Album 9
Today we met a miracle! Today we met Jacqueline!

We are surrounded by the ravages of AIDS: grandmothers parenting orphans, single parents, children raising children, children who are HIV positive.

A few months ago, Jacqueline was dying from AIDS. Even though she herself was hospitalized and facing death, she found the strength to reach out to the other patients and comfort them whenever possible. Then Mama Wandoa came into her life and took her to her home. She was able to obtain the antiretroviral drugs Jacqueline needed and today — there was Jacqueline handing out clothing to 550 children. She never once wavered from her post in spite of the heat and humidity. She was kind and gentle as she gave directions to the children. She asked for only one thing: a second Canada pin so she could use them as a pair of earrings. She also wanted her story told. So many lives could be saved if only they had access to the drugs.

On the way to Tungini this morning we reminisced about past few days and could hardly believe there were only two distributions left to do. Even though we are emotionally and physically tired, you could hear the tinge of sadness as we realized our Tanzania adventure was drawing to a close.

From Tanzania Album 9
We were greeted by the friendly waves of mothers, children and teachers. It is heart rending to see how many mothers wait all day in the hope of receiving a bedkit. In the mornings they will wait in groups at some distance from the photography site. As the bedkits are distributed and the stockpile dwindles, you can sense the anxiety of the mothers and they push closer and closer. It is the worst part of the day to look into their eyes and explain there are simply no bedkits left.

It’s at times like this you seek consolation in the 550 children who did receive bedkits and the miracle of Jacqueline.

Linda Webb for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 8 - Kitunda

From Tanzania Album 8
Today we travelled to an area called Kitunda, a short distance from Dar es Salaaam, to a school located at the end of a narrow dirt road with potholes so large they almost swallowed up our van. How we don’t get a flat tire is beyond me! The good news is that our new driver seems to be able to find our distribution sites without stopping for directions every 100 feet.

When we arrived, the students were gathered in an open area, ready to perform their opening exercises. They sang the national anthem, accompanied by four girls on drums. What an uplifting way to start your morning! Mama Wandoa then introduced us all, making us feel like celebrities. However, that feeling didn’t last long once we were covered in dust and sweat!

It was obvious right from the start that the number of children here exceeded our previous distributions, yet we weren’t concerned about crowd control, feeling assured by what appeared to be the head mistress explaining earlier who we were and what we were doing there.

From Tanzania Album 8
However, while the distribution itself proceeded very smoothly over the next few hours, as our pile of brightly-coloured mattresses grew smaller and smaller we began to sense the growing desperation of the children and parents who were not slated to receive a bedkit. This is, without a doubt, the most difficult part of the day: few things are as heartbreaking as a mother pleading with us to give her child a bedkit.

But this is the reality so we do what we can and console ourselves that at least a few more children will sleep well tonight.

Maureen Maus for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 7 - Bunju B and Boko

From Tanzania Album 7
What a great day it has been! Another successful day of bedkit distribution is over and a unique one at that!

We visited two school sites: Bunju B in the morning and then on to Boko where over a hundred of the children were brought in by truck to have their photos taken and receive their bedkits. What a truckload went home this afternoon, loaded up with smiling children, their bedkit bags, and brightly coloured mattresses!

We also gained a new volunteer today. Avod is our new driver and upon arrival at the first site, immediately pitched in to help line up the children and help us out with our limited Swahili. What a treasure he is!

From Tanzania Album 7
Due to threatening rain clouds we opted to take most of our photos inside a schoolroom today working in very bare surroundings with no natural backdrop and a very uneven floor. But despite all that and the fact we had over 100 extra bedkits to distribute (left over from the “rain day” on Saturday), all went without a hitch and we were on the way back to our hotel by 3:00 p.m.

It is hard to believe there are only three more days of distribution to go. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Sally Sandiford for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Tanzania: Sunday ... a day of rest.

"The vibrant spirituality that pervades much of the African continent fills Tanzania as well"
— The Lonely Planet - Tanzania

Ready for church with Mama Wandoa
From Tanzania Album 6

As I type this blog I am listening to the 5 a.m. call to prayer from the mosque a stone's throw from our hotel.

Yesterday we worshipped with Mama Wandoa at her church. We were welcomed warmly by the pastor and the congregation. Even though we could not understand a word, we felt blessed to listen to the soul-stiring music accompanied by guitars, keyboard, and brass band.

Following the service, we visited with the children in the Sunday School class. Again, the fervour of their responses to their teachers and their musical performance was inspiring.

The Choir
According to the Lonely Planet, "about 40% to 50% of Tanzanians are Christian. The remainder of the population follows traditional religions centering on ancestor worship, the land, and various ritual objects. There are also small but active communities of Hindus, Sikhs and Ismailis."

After church, we travelled north of Dar es Salaam along the coast to Bagamoyo, where we were taken back to the mid-19th century. "Slaves. ivory, salt and copra were unloaded here before being shipped to Zanzibar and beyond." We stepped back further in time with our visit to the Kaole Ruins, where we picked our way over the remains of a 13th - century mosque and burial ground.

At the Indian Ocean
From Tanzania Album 6
Following lunch and a stroll along the coast of the Indian Ocean, a tired team drove back to Dar es Salaam to get ready for Monday's distribution.

Kwa heri. Kesho. (Goodbye. Until tomorow.)

Linda Webb for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Don't miss the next blog post

From Tanzania 2007
To subscribe to
SCAW Live Report
enter email address

Delivered by
Be sure to answer
confirmation email
or you won't
be subscribed.
Today the Tanzania travelling team left for church at 6 a.m. with Mama Wandoa and then did some sightseeing. Tomorrow they will be taking part in another distribution.

Watch for a report right here ... and if you haven't already set up an automatic subscription to this blog, use the form at right and fill in your email address to get each blog post delivered to your inbox daily.

Important Note: Once you fill in the form, be sure to reply to the message you receive from Feedburner to complete the subscription process. Otherwise, you will not be subscribed. You might want to check your spam/bulk email folder if you haven't yet received the confirmation email.

By the way, you can also subscribe in an RSS Reader if that is more convenient for you.

Leave a comment here.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 5 — Mbezi Ndumbwi

From Tanzania Album 5
We thought we were having trouble pronouncing this site — it was even more difficult getting there. Our driver continues to amaze us with his ability to get lost even though he has the most detailed directions from Mama Wandoa. It is now our morning ritual to place bets on the number of times he will stop to ask directions. Perhaps he is simply terrified of being irretrieveably lost with six Mzungu women.

Mbezi Ndumbwi school was a beautiful spot for a distribution: hibiscus bushes for the background, shaded areas for respite from the sun, good flow from station to station of the distribution site. Unfortunately the weather had other plans. What we initially thought was a passing sun shower, within seconds turned into a torrential downpour, the likes of which I had not seen in my lifetime. Thank goodness we had a rain-out plan. Six unflinching volunteers scrambled to protect the labels, the cameras, and the bedkit on display.

We set up shop in an empty classroom. However, we were unable to complete our quota for the day: one hundred and fourteen children never made it to the site, perhaps because of the weather.

Have a look at the photos ... Maureen was able to capture the force of the rain and the rivers that immediately flowed down the gentle slopes of the school grounds.

From Tanzania Album 5
The abrupt end of the distribution left us with time to do some exploration of a Tanzanian street market and enjoy dinner at a seaside restaurant. Haggling is the game at the markets and Nancy is our haggler par excellence!

Oh yes ... if you are wondering how to pronounce Mbezi Ndumbwi ... start off with a hum followed by “beezee," then a nasal hum for the N , followed by “dum wee.” Got it?

And if you are worried about the 114 children, we will stop at their village on Monday to give them their bedkits.

Linda Webb for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 4 — Kwembe

From Tanzania Album 4
Having supported SCAW as a donor for 15 years, I have always believed in its integrity as an orgnization. Now, as I experience firsthand a bedkit distribution here in Tanzania I am even more convinced that Sleeping Children is a working miracle. We have just completed Day 4, and each day has brought me face to face with a different side of poverty.

Today we traveled further into the countryside, to an elementary school in Kwembe, negotiating roads that would barely qualify as walking trails back home.

When we finally arrived at the top of the hill where the small school perched we were greeted by hundreds of children waiting patiently. Off to the sides sat the groups of mothers with their babies, clear evidence that for them the distribution is quite a social event. I spent some time “talking” to these mothers, using my camera as a way to break the ice. They, like the children, were curious to see their picture in the digital camera, giggling and teasing each other, proof positive that human nature transcends race.

From Tanzania Album 4
The Kwembe school seemed a bit poorer than those we’ve visited already (if that’s possible), and the children were more quiet and reserved. But the shy smiles we received were just as heartwarming.

After we finished the distribution we followed Mama Wendoa to her home back in the city where she operates the Upendo Aids Center. She proudly showed us around, and it was wonderful to see what the amazing woman has accomplished. Her smile, like the smiles of the children, will stay in my heart for many years to come.

Maureen Maus for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 3 — Ukombozi

From Tanzania Album 3
A much more rested team set out this morning at 7 a.m. for Ukombozi for our third distribution. Our driver took us down many a winding road but he doesn't mind stopping for directions or at least asking opinions on which roads to take.

When we arrived at Ukombozi we set up in the courtyard of a primary school. A beautiful cashew tree stood in the centre and most of the children were already in classes. We heard their voices reciting their lessons with their teachers.

Before beginning our distribution the students had a special gift for us. They sang three songs accompanied by an outstanding children's drum section. Their teacher who was leading them was all smiles and very proud of his students. I once heard that "music is where we hang our memories." The melodic and joyous voices of these Tanzanian children will be a memory I will carry with me forever.

Distribution four is in Kwembi tomorrow with more memories to come ...

Nancy Loveless for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 2 — Nzasa

From Tanzania Album 2
Coming back to Tanzania for a second time I expected some things to be the same and wondered if I would see any differences. Soon after arriving I immediately recalled Tanzanians quick paced style of driving; frequently using their horns to make other drivers aware of their need to get into the weaving flow of traffic. I recalled that there was always plenty of action to see while driving through the city. People are selling fruit, clothing and even cassette tapes at the side of the road packed with people traveling by foot, bicycle, bus and even motorcycle to and from their homes and work.

From Tanzania Album 2
During distribution, many memories came back to me as well. The excitement of the children when we arrived, the shy glances of the children as they walk by the 6 women from Canada and the smiles and a quiet “thank-you” when passing out the bed kit.

News of our arrival travels very quickly in the area we are visiting. By mid-afternoon there are many, many children that have come to the school to see if they will receive a bedkit today. Many do, but sadly many go home without a bedkit. This reaffirms that although we are doing a great thing for these children there is still such a high need for the items we are distributing.

From Tanzania Album 2
During our first two days of distribution I have noticed one small difference from my last visit. More and more children are wearing laced-up running shoes and socks. On my last visit almost all of the children wore flip-flops or sometimes no shoes at all. I can only speculate that the reasons for this change could be because running shoes have become more available to Tanzanians living in the villages of Dar es Salaam or perhaps the need for proper footwear has been recognized and running shoes have been donated to the children. Either way, it’s great to see the children dressed in suitable footwear for running through the schoolyard with less risk of hurting their feet.

The hard work of the first two days of distribution has left me longing for sleep, but at the same time looking forward to distributions in the next few days. The children are still beautiful, have the most brilliant smiles, and are appreciative of our donors’ gifts.

Katie Sandiford for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Tanzania: Day 1 — Maweni

From Tanzania Album 1
The team arrived late on Monday night.

It was a bleary-eyed but nevertheless exhilarated team that set off on the ferry across the Dar es Salaam harbour to Maweni. We were somewhat concerned to discover that not only did our driver not speak English, but he also had no idea where we were going once we disembarked the ferry.

He did have one redeeming feature: he did not hesitate to stop and ask for directions.

We arrived at Maweni and were greeted by Mama Wandoa, Director of the Upendo AIDS Centre and the voices of hundreds of curious children in the school yard.

It was immediately apparent that the children were needy. Mama Wandoa pointed out a few children wearing a red stripe on the sleeve of their school uniform. This marked them as special needs children with AIDS or epilepsy.

Tonight, six hundred children are sleeping with the comfort of a mattress and protected from mosquito-borne diseases by an LLIN (Long-lasting Insecticide Treated Net).

Following the distribution, we visited the home of a past bedkit recipient. The mother of this family was recently widowed. Mama Wandoa explained they were living in dire poverty in a small shelter. Because of the generosity of a school teacher who had built a small row of rooms, this mother and her three children had a roof over their heads. The poverty was palpable. It was an emotional time and six subdued volunteers left that little home to return to the comfort and -- in contrast -- the luxury of our hotel.

From Tanzania Album 1
I wish I could tell you we had some exotic Tanzania meal for dinner. We settled for Romano's Pizza next door, and most everyone has hit the hay as we start at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The photos show some of our adventures today including photos of some some of the
beautiful Tanzanian children. It is always about the children and for the children.

Linda Webb for the SCAW 2007 Tanzania travelling team.

Leave a comment here.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Tanzania: The team has arrived

Click for Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Forecast

From Tanzania 2007 Photo Album
SCAW 2007 Tanzania Travelling Team (left to right): Katie Sandiford, Maureen Maus, Nancy Loveless, Linda Webb (Team Leader), Sally Sandiford, Laura Harper.

Just a quick note to let you know that Sleeping Children's travelling team to Tanzania has arrived safely. Today they completed their first distribution.

When the first photos arrive you'll see them here.

Leave a comment here.