Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 10 - Yahoo!

We did it! We are done!
Click link below to see more photos in the
Tanzania 2009 Photo Album

Our usual waking time was moved again in the wrong direction, as we were up at 4 am. Our safari jeep picked us up at 5 am and after some creative shuffling of labels, clothes, and other essentials, most of which were strapped to the roof, we left at 5:20 am. We arrived at Chalinze about 120 km west of Dar just after Mama's trucks.

There was a feeling of excitement and energy knowing these were our last 700 bedkits to distribute. Our set-up routine was complimented by a great photo shooting area and completed with such speed, even the local volunteers were impressed. As we came to our last group photo, Mama and Dave rounded up the volunteers from both countries and there was one last celebratory photo taken. We then had an informal meeting with many thank you's and congraulations for everyone involved.

After handshakes, hugs and smiles we jumped into our safari jeep and on to the final leg of our Tanzania trip for some reflecting, reminiscing, and good old-fashioned rest.

We are heading home tomorrow and will be arriving at Pearson on Friday afternoon.

What a journey this has been and we will return with many stories to share, some of which will be so long that you will have to stop us short and many more photos, each of which will hold a special memory for us.

We are signing off.

Over and Out,

Team Tanzania 2009

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Tanzania: Slideshow 3

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album

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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 9

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
One more day!

Up at 6 am. Out by 7 am. Drove Southwest 40 km to an area called Majimatitu and a school of 3,500 children. Lucky for us, it was Saturday so the crowd was slightly smaller. We were in a very contained area and we set up shop quickly. It was worth the wait for the sun to get a bit higher to allow for better donor photos. We again started with the 270 individual shots and we were working at a near record-breaking pace. The groups were flying through so quickly, that we were left to wait for the smoke to clear from the children leaving the picture-taking area. We hit a bit of a snag in the afternoon and used our time creatively by going shopping for water and biscuits for the local children and taking advantage of an opportunity to speak more thoroughly with some local teachers.

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
With many of us being teacher ourselves, we could relate to these stories. However we did learn some interesting differences between Canadian customs and Tanzanian customs. Imagine a classroom of 80 well-behaved children!

Liz experienced a very respectful "God bless you" and many "Thank you"s in English when speaking with the children. Linda had some very interesting interviews and made such a connection with one local mother that the memory was captured on camera.

It was one of our warmer days and we found shade when we could to get some relief. Dave was quick to place the camera in the shade whenever possible.

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
After a 6-day marathon, we are looking forward to a much-deserved day off tomorrow, including a trip to Zanzibar. If we are lucky, we might be able to stay awake long enough for a euchre game or two tonight.

We are hoping to blog about Monday's final distribution day on Wednesday. However, we leave directly from Monday's site for Mikumi National Park and a safari. We are hoping to connect with you before leaving for home but we cannot guarantee it.

Thoughts to you all,
Team Tanzania 2009

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Friday, 21 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 8

Click on the link below to see more photos in the
Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Hello All,

We are not going in the direction that we wish with our waking time, as we were up at 5 am. However, motivation is high, as we are completing our mission with ease and care while seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. On the road by 6:02 am and we drove a bit further to our distribution site but with little traffic early in the morning, we made good time. We arrived just after 7 at our site and were witness to a handful of local children cleaning the schoolyard with their home-made fagios (mini-brooms). Before long, we were in the middle of a sea of small faces and smiles, many of them eager to be in close proximity to us.

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Gary and Lisa lead the group in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday." Two of these voices were singing in English, but these two were outnumbered by the 50 Swahili versions. We then entertained the kids with our version of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" but were on our own for that one.

Before we started our distribution, we were graciously welcomed to two local homes of children who had received bedkits last year. It was rewarding for us to see all of the items still in use and in good condition. We were impressed at their resourcefulness in using dirt and water to make mud walls for their homes. While their homes are much more simple and space is tight, the locals still take great pride in welcoming guests.

Mama had sent two trucks to go to some outlying villages to pick up some children to receive bedkits. The numbers flowed smoothly, and as usual we started with the individual shots before moving to the group photos. We helped organize and stack the mattresses in our own creative way. This task made us appreciate all the hard work that the overseas volunteer team does to make our job run as smooth as possible. Asante sana!

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
We have learned that counting to ten in Swahili is very helpful when lining up the children and the overseas volunteers are very patient with our learning.

Tomorrow is Day 9 and to use some hockey terms familiar to a certain someone, we are in the second half of the third period before heading to overtime. We then look forward to a much-deserved day off and a day-trip to Zanzibar.

Our team is committed, energized, and still talking to each other.

Love to all,
Team Tanzania 2009
(Bob, Dave, Gary, Linda, Liz and Lisa)

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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 7

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Up at 6 am. What a tease! On the road and headed back towards the Dar airport. We came to a school that required our van to receive some assistance in entering over one very large speed bump. The boys (Gary and Bob) were in charge of photo site selection this morning, and even with some teasing from the ladies, did quite well in their choice.

Once again, we were finding our rhythm quickly as we began with 270 individual bedkits. The overseas volunteers were great in assisting us with dressing, counting, and organizing the children. There were a group of students who came from three other nearby schools and with their close proximity to our location, there was very little down time.

We quickly moved onto the group photos. When leaving, our van again required some local muscle power and assistance to leave over that same speed bump.

Dave was pleased that the children were very responsive to the "checka" (smile) instruction and we saw many whites of the teeth and even some laughs.

On the way home, Mama Wandoa had organized a visit to a local house of a girl who had just received a bedkit today. She was living in a very humble home with her mother and father. Mama and some of the team members helped to put up her mosquito net over her new brightly coloured mattress. It was so nice to see in person that our work really does make a difference and the gratitude that the local families are showing us.

4, 901 and counting.

Love, Team Tanzania 2009

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 6

To see more photos, click on the link below for the
Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
We are rounding the bend.

Well, we were back to our usual wake up time of, you guessed it, 5:30. Left at 6:30 and arrived after an interesting bridge-crossing experience at our distribution site. The ladies (Linda, Liz, Lisa. and Mama) were in charge of selecting the photo shooting area and site-flow for the children. Dave and Mama Wandoa graciously approved of our choice. We began with individual labels and they went very smoothly in the morning. We hit a bit of a snag and had time to tour around the local area, all the while being followed by many villagers who were welcoming to us. In the afternoon, Bob and Gary were handed over the picture-taking duties and Dave will critique the results tonight with his trained eye.

During our break, Gary learned from a local teacher that she and a group of children had walked 10 miles to the distribution site. After receiving their bedkits, they then had a 10-mile walk back home. We will never complain about our Canadian travel distances again.

We completed our distribution around 4 pm -- a bit of a later day -- but still managed to reach our goal of 700 children. It was neat to see some children still carrying their bedkits home when we were on our way back to Dar. Managed to get some photos of this. Made us all feel good to see them arriving at their intended destinations.

Happy Anniversary to a special person. Thanks for a great 37 years!

Keep on truckin'.

Love, Team Tanzania 2009

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 5

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
You might think that we were up at 5:30 as usual but in fact we were able to sleep in until 6 am. Yahoo! Our first challenge of the day was to get past the gates of the prison but the guards probably assumed that we were not local convicts. We required some minor assistance to find our distribution site. When we arrived, our second challenge was a record breaking mission. We were to include 100 children in a single donation picture. With some quick thinking and major organizing, we were more than successful and have the photos to prove it with 100 smiling faces and six relieved team members.

The rest of the day seemed slightly easier with more manageable numbers. We are working closely with the overseas volunteer team and they are proving to work just as hard as us to ensure that 700 children every day are leaving with a smile. This distribution day had a particularly enthusiastic crowd of onlookers who were standing in doorways and peering through windows to get in on the excitement.

We returned to our accomodations and realized that a small army of ants were more than willing to join us for the journey home. A bit of down time before heading out for dinner probably near the ocean.

We are officially half way there and we are rounding the bend. We are happy and healthy and will keep marching on.

Love, Team Tanzania 2009

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Monday, 17 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 4

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Up at 5:30. We are now well-trained for the early risings. Picked up at 6:45. Drove 40 km East of Dar Es Salaam to our distribution site at another school down a dusty and bumpy road. Set up shop and Mama was well-organized and things ran smoothly. We started around 9 am and soon began working like a well-oiled machine. Each of us had our jobs to do and did them remarkably well -- if we can say so ourselves.

In the afternoon there was a class of students singing, drumming, and dancing outside in preparation for an upcoming graduation ceremony. Linda and Bob couldn't resist the temptation to join in the fun and the students were most welcoming and patient with their beginning dance moves. The rest of us slaved away filling in the many work-related gaps left by their sudden departure. Later on, Lisa asked for one more song which all the students participated in willingly.

Liz did an excellent job in sorting kids for the pictures. She is giving Lisa a run for her money in the Swahili language department. There is an oral test tomorrow night.

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Gary, as usual was showing us his wisdom and experience in many ways. Dave, our fearless leader, is keeping us all under control and truly enjoying our experience.

A number of children had to be held by their parents for the picture due to special needs and illnesses. We are impressed by the ability of many of the children to speak basic English with us. Some children seemed overwhelmed but others had gorgeous smiles and beautiful eyes that they were more than willing to show off.

We experienced downtown, chaotic Dar Es Salaam on the way home to finalize our trips to Zanzibar and Mikumi after the work is done.

We are almost halfway there and look forward to continued success and tomorrow's distribution.

Keep the blog comments coming as we do read them and appreciate your support and enthusiasm.

Love to all,

Team Tanzania 2009

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Sunday, 16 August 2009

Tanzania: A Day Off

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Up at 5:30 again. Usual breakfast. Dressed in our Sunday best for Mama's church marathon service. We enjoyed three choirs and they showed us Canadians how to properly sing well and sing loud. A beautiful three-part harmony by twenty-five African voices is very powerful to hear. We volunteers were called to the front of the church with Mama so she could explain why we were there and what our purpose was. Each of us introduced ourselves and Lisa and Liz even managed to say it in Swahili.

After our introductions, we moved to the children's Sunday School building. The excitement that ensued was overwhelming. Lots of hugs, handshakes, smiles and warm welcomes. The children then formed their choir and sang three songs of welcome accompanied by two boys on a drum. Their love of music and innocent voices were very touching. The drummer was a hilight for Gary.

Mama then surprised us by asking us come to the front and share a sample of a Canadian Sunday School hymn. Our quick thinking lead us to "Jesus loves Me." We then had the children come and join us and Dave was told to write the words in English on the back blackboard. His teaching years came quickly back to him.

As we left the building, there were more handshakes, smiles, and touching.

Mama then took us on a short ferry ride across the Bay to tour a former distribution site from five years ago. We stopped for some fresh local coconut juice direct from the fruit before catching the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam. We were the typical tourists who then went souvenir shopping and Gary, Bob and Lisa were successful in their bargaining powers. Linda was a quiet observer who is going to make her move later in the trip.

Love to all friends and family. We will catch up on Canadian news later.

Team Tanzania 2009

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Saturday, 15 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 3

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
Up at 5 am. Out the door by 6 am. Arriving at 7:15, we drove 70 km north of Dar Es Salaam to Bagamoyo which was the centre of the East African slave trade.

There were four trucks unloading 700 mattresses and bedkits while Mama Wandoa was busy organizing the children for the distribution.

Lisa is our current swahili vocabulary coach. She's teaching us useful words/phrases such as si mama = stop, lala salama = sleep well, njo = come, asante = thank you, and asante sana = thank you very much. She is also teaching us our numbers from 1-10.

After a few afternoon pauses, we completed the distribution at 3 pm and explored more of the historical sites of Bagomoyo. Tomorrow we are looking forward to accompanying Mama Wandoa to church from 7 am to 9:30 am.

Special thanks to our coach Linda Webb.

Love to our family and friends from Tanzania Africa.

Team Tanzania 2009 (Bob, Dave, Gary, Linda, Lisa and Liz)

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Friday, 14 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 2

From Tanzania 2009 Photo Album
This time we went to a rural site with the children coming in a staggered fashion so there were some down times.

We did wander through the village at lunch time and enjoyed the local soft drinks and watched the children board local busses piled high with our mattresses.

The students were very patient with us. We watched in awe as twenty-six parents and children filed out of a single eight-seater van. It was like watching a commercial. What a sight!

Tomorrow we are off to Bagamoyo, somewhat of a tourist area now, that used to be the departure point for slave ships. The team is healthy and we are refining our euchre-playing skills. We have hundreds of pcitures and numerous videos that we hope to get to you a.s.a.p.

The SCAW 2009 Tanzania Team

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Thursday, 13 August 2009

Tanzania: Day 1

Current Weather:Click for Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Forecast

We went a half hour south of the city to the site of the ammunition dump explosion of April 29.

700 bedkits distributed. The team responded wonderfully, rookies and veterans alike. We took all the photos in groups of ten. The children were very attentive and Mama Wandoa's volunteers did a great job.

Our accomodations are suitable. We are eating breakfast there and our dinners are usually at a restaurant. We are starting to get decent night's sleep.

The SCAW 2009 Tanzania Team

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