Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Tanzania: The final 2008 blog post

SCAW & Upendo volunteers celebrate the final photo
From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Final day of distribution - Magindu

Up at four .. on the road by five ... seemed like a long day ahead.

As we drove in the dark, we were amazed to see scores of children already on their way to school. Our van was unusually quiet as we were wistfully aware this was our final distribution. We left the main highway and turned off onto a seemingly endless and rutted red dirt road which led to the village of Magindu. At 7 a.m., the schoolyard was already a beehive of activity. It became even busier as the trucks unloaded the mattresses and blankets. SCAW and Upendo volunteers set to work tying up mattresses and completing the bedkits by adding the blankets.

The children in this remote area seemed apprehensive about our presence and received their bedkits with cautious smiles. Once again, the decorum and patience of the children was remarkable. For us, the most joyous part of the day was spotting the children wending their way home with their bedkits as we headed back to Dar in the van.

Today, the highlight of the distribution was seeing a child arrive at the entrance of his home. We jumped out of the van and approached his mother who graciously permitted us to take photos. Mama was in the process of weaving twine across a hand-hewn stick frame in anticipation of the mattress.

Other children arrived with their bedkits and stopped to have their photos taken too. This was clearly a momentous day for this little enclave of huts.

Hopefully the photos will bring the experience to life for our readers.

Somewhat subdued we returned to the van.

Whatever will we do tomorrow?

Karen, Michael & Linda
for Team Tanzania

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Monday, 18 August 2008

Tanzania: 7,000 bedkits delivered

For those of you following this blog, there will be one last post from the Tanzania team later today or early tomorrow, but I couldn't let the day go by without telling you this:

I just added 7,000 to the running total on the home page of the Sleeping Children Around the World website which brings our total up to 954,850 — the number of children helped by SCAW since 1970.

Fifteen minutes ago (10 am EDT) I was able to have an IM (instant message) chat with team leader Linda Webb in Tanzania. She was pleased to let me know that the distribution is complete. The team is now taking showers and cleaning up for a meeting with Mama Wandoa and her team to do a final evaluation this evening at 6 pm (Tanzania time). The team has been pleased to read all the comments from friends and family at home.

Watch for the final blog post tomorrow.

Milton van der Veen
on behalf of Team Tanzania

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Saturday, 16 August 2008

Tanzania: Christmas in August

Waiting in the shade
From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Day 9 – Ruvu KJT

As a child, do you remember what it was like to open your presents on Christmas morning? Well today, the children of Ruvu JKT, a small village 120 km north of Dar es Salaam, experienced Christmas in August.

Halfway through our distribution today, we were informed by Mama Wandoa that the second mattress truck had been delayed by the Tanzanian police, because the mattresses were piled too high. With a few well-placed phone calls, one to Mr. Gilbert, whom you will remember from Day One, the truck was released from custody and on its way, but at least three hours behind schedule.

Rather than wait for the mattresses to arrive, we decided to take the photos and give the children the bedkits “sans” the mattresses. We asked them to wait under the shade of a tree for the mattresses to arrive. Like children on Christmas morning, the look on their faces as they unzipped the bags to look at the contents, was one of wonder and surprise. Their smiles radiated joy and excitement, as they eagerly chatted in Swahili to one and another about the contents of their bags.

Each day we have wondered what the childern say when they arrive home and open their bedkits/bag. Today, we were given our own gift in their smiles, laughter, excitement ... now we know how important this gift is. Their happiness in finding school shirts and socks in their bedkits was particularly gratifying. Just a small reminder of how much most of us have and how this is so needed by these wonderful and lovely children.

We were the ones that really had Christmas in August.

Warren and Judy
for Team Tanzania

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Tanzania: Slideshow 2

Friday, 15 August 2008

Tanzania: Whose Child is This?

From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Day 8 - Mvuti

Whose child is this?

A boy perfect
Except he had no words
Only grunts and unexpected
High-pitched giggles as though laughing at the trick
Fate had played on him.

He stood in line with the children
But they shied away from his
Mangled right arm.

Sometimes he dropped unexpectedly
To the ground as though he derived
Comfort from the warm sand if not from the
Smiles of other children.

His bedkit and new clothes safely in the arms of his mama
He returns, dressed again in tatters, to stare with big dark and
Knowing eyes at each SCAW volunteer in turn.

Maybe he sees the sorrow and concern for his
Welfare in our hearts.

He reaches with his good hand to
Gently touch Judy’s blond hair.
And he wanders off again.
What if his mama has AIDS or Malaria?

Whose child is this?

Linda Webb
for Team Tanzania

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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Tanzania: A Peaceful Day

Mama Linda & Mama Wandoa
From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Day 7 - Mtambani

A beautiful day in Mtambani, a small community 45 km northeast of Dar es Salaam. As we travelled from the city heading to our destination we caught glimpses of the calm and serene Indian Ocean. We knew we were in for a peaceful day. Peaceful it was!

The school’s 1200 eager, smiling, and curious children awaited. Once again, we were the guests at the school’s outdoor opening exercises. Their drumming and singing chilled our spines. Classes were summoned by the ringing of the school bell — a metal tire rim hanging from a branched tree stump struck with large rock — a privilege treated quite seriously by a senior student.

Karen and I had the supreme pleasure of visiting a Level 4 classroom. All 73 students were crammed in cheek by joule. In spite of their learning environment, they sprang to attention as we entered the classroom. How excited they were to learn the “Head and Shoulders Song.” This was truly a rewarding experience for two retired teachers. Another fantastic day in the sun and we can hardly wait until tomorrow when we travel a greater distance to reach our distribution site of Mvuti.

On behalf of 700 children, we thank you donors for the priceless zawadis (gifts) of bedkits.

Michael Foster
for Team Tanzania

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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tanzania: Education is Our Liberation

From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Day 6 - Pugu Kajiungeni

Pugu Kajiungeni is 50 km south of Dar es Salaam – (The same challenging traffic, same humungous potholes.)

Our team was on the road by seven this morning in order to join the children in their opening exercises. Just when we began to think our days couldn’t be more interesting, we were once more taken aback.

We were greeted by swarms of excited children. Wonderful to feel so welcome ... but logistically daunting.

With astounding speed the confusion was, as if by magic, transformed. Twenty two hundred children, standing four deep, formed a huge square around a group of older children with three pairs of drummers. All was silent as we were introduced.

What followed can hardly be described. Rich voices joined as one, first singing the Tanzanian national anthem then a school song, “Education is Our Liberation.”

So much rhythmic clapping, so many joyous faces, so much emotion. Does it get any better?

We can hardly wait for tomorrow.

Karen Shouldice
for Team Tanzania

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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Tanzania: A Colourful Day

From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Click button above to see slideshow again. | Click here to go to the Tanzania photo album

Day 5 - Vikindu

This was truly a beautiful day for 700 bedkits and the half-way point of our distributions. Vikindu is located 75 km south of Dar es Saalam in the coastal region of Tanzania.

We had a busy time fighting traffic made up of cars, bicycles, buses, and many people on foot as we travelled to this region. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a paradise of colour, spirited people and many Asanti Sanas (Thank you very much).

The true colours of the Tanzanian mamas' clothing shone as they waited for the distribution to begin. Mamas, babas, guardians, or significant people in the child’s life must be present to take their child and the bedkit home. Many children had already arrived after many kilometers of walking. Others were just arriving in the back of a large open-topped truck. Fifty-five smiling children, their helpers, and one classroom teacher had also arrived.

With the possibility of a threatening tropical rain, we were forced to move the photographs inside. The teachers were more than accommodating in giving up their classrooms for additional space to make this a pleasurable and rewarding experience for all. They thanked us repeatedly for coming to their village community.

The Tanzanian team thanks everyone involved especially Mama Wandoa for the selection of this site. We thank all the SCAW donors for their generous donations to make this distribution and others possible.

Mike Foster
for Team Tanzania

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Monday, 11 August 2008

Tanzania: Not all God’s children got shoes

From Tanzania 2008 Photo Album
Day 4 - Mkuranga
I got shoes, you got shoes ...
Not all God’s children got shoes ...
Mkuranga is a typical Tanzanian village in an idyllic tropical setting in the coastal region about 120 km south of Dar es Salaam. The children live in less than idyllic circumstances.

Poverty seemed compounded by physical handicaps, skin ailments, and malnutrition. These wee ones had calloused hands from working alongside their parents.

At this site we noticed that most of the children had no shoes. They had walked long distances in bare feet. Big soulful eyes stared up at us as we placed the bedkits on their heads. Some managed a shy smile or a whispered “Asante” (Thank you), but the grins got bigger and wider as they were escorted to the arms of their mamas or babas.

Dear donors ... We wish you could have seen what your gifts meant to these 700 children today.

Team Tanzania

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Sunday, 10 August 2008

Tanzania: Never Enough

Day 3: Kigamboni

A glorious day for a ferry ride across the Bay of Dar es Salaam ... but it turned out to be a bittersweet day. Following a bone-jolting ride over potholed dirt roads, we arrived at the distribution site located near a leper colony. It was abundantly clear that not only were the children in dire need, they also required medical attention that we take for granted in Canada, but is inaccessible to the average Tanzanian.

The crowd increased hour by hour as word spread throughout the village that SCAW had actually arrived with bedkits. Disbelieving parents realized that the promise of bedkits was a reality. Soon thousands surrounded the site and the desperation of the parents was palpable as they realized that 700 bedkits would not begin the fill the needs of the village.

Mama Wandoa, as always compassionate and understanding, had to stand firm in her choice of children.

A challenging day ... but 700 children in Kigamboni are sleeping more comfortably tonight.

Thank you, donors.

Lala salama (Sleep well) to you to.

Team Tanzania

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Saturday, 9 August 2008

Tanzania: The SCAW Team

A photo of Team Tanzania for 2008 -- on location in Tanzania.

Members of Sleeping Children's travelling team are: (Left to right) Linda Webb (team leader) from Etobicoke, Michael Foster from Brantford, Karen Shouldice from Etobicoke, Warren Wagstaff from North Vancouver, Judy Owens and Grace Owens from Boston. Click photo to see a larger version.

More photos will be posted next time we can make a connection.

Team Tanzania

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Friday, 8 August 2008

Tanzania: Two days in

We are having the worst time with the Internet here. I got up at 4:30 this morning to see if i could get through and even though I had a signal, Hotmail would not open.

Anyway, it seems to be working now so I will try again. Distributions are going well. We just got in from our second day.

More later (I hope),

Linda Webb
for Team Tanzania

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Thursday, 7 August 2008

Tanzania: He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Day 1 – Kwala

We arrived to cheers of Kwala Oye! Kwala Oye!

The entire village, led by Mr. Gilbert, the District Commissioner, came to greet the SCAW team. Swahili cheers and songs rang out ... a moving experience for us. It was interesting to note that Mr. Gilbert stressed that it was a day for the children and that the bedkits were for their personal use ... not for Mamas and Babas.

The excitement rose as we prepared the site for the distribution but the discipline and politeness of the children was remarkable. They patiently waited their turn, sometimes caring for their smaller brothers and sisters and carrying them effortlessly on their backs.

Some had walked 34 kilometres and waited as long as six hours to receive the bedkit because of a malfunction with one of the delivery trucks. As always, the indomitable Mama Wandoa took control and worked out the logistics.

The children were easily coaxed to smile prompted by our “Checka! Checka!” (Smile! Smile!) The individuality of each child shone through ... some were shy, others confident, a wink and mischievious grin ... just like children everywhere.

The current date/time in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania:
A day of wonderful memories for the SCAW team.

We’ll sleep soundly tonight.

Team Tanzania

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Tanzania: Distribution has begun

Current Weather:Click for Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Forecast
The distribution of bedkits in Tanzania has begun. Tanzania children -- 7,000 of them -- will be receiving bedkits that include:
  • mattress
  • sheet
  • blanket
  • Olyset LLIN (long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito net)
  • t-shirt
  • school uniform shirt
  • kanga (wrap)
  • socks
  • flip-flops
  • carrying bag
Our overseas partner is the Upendo AIDS Centre, under the direction of the indomitable Mama Wandoa Mwambu.

Members of the Sleeping Children travelling team are: Warren Wagstaff from North Vancouver, Michael Foster from Brantford, Karen Shouldice from Etobicoke, Judy Owens from Boston, and team leader Linda Webb from Etobicoke.

More to come later,

Linda Webb
for the 2008 SCAW Tanzania team.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Tanzania: The team has arrived

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The Sleeping Children Around the World travelling team to Tanzania arrived in Dar es Salaam this morning.

The photo shows part of the team that left from Pearson Airport on Monday evening: (left to right) Karen Shouldice, Linda Webb (Team Leader), Warren Wagstaff, and Michael Foster. (Click photo for larger version.)

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Tanzania: Leave your comments here

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