Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Zimbabwe trip reports posted

The donor newsletter for the Zimbabwe bedkit distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.
Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
Photos are available in the Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album. You can view them by clicking the link above.

If you would like to read the reports on the web, you can read them in their entirety here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tanzania: Mission Accomplished

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
"I am nothing without someone else. If he slips and stumbles I will stumble with him, if I cannot hold him up."

— Ritual chant of Mali

We "held up" 7,000 needy little ones with the support of our donors and the SCAW and the Tanzanian volunteers.

A bitter sweet day .... no more 4:30 a.m. wake up calls, but no more dark inquiring eyes and beautiful smiles!

Kwa heri (goodbye), Tanzania.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Tanzania: Sunday, day of rest and surprises

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Mama Wandoa is a woman of strong constitution and even stronger religious conviction. A staunch Lutheran with little financial resources, she assumes the responsibility of the SCAW distribution with a shrug of her shoulders that there is no money in the bank and the deep faith that God will provide.

And by heavens, it all falls into place!

You already know that 100% of the funds wired goes towards the bedkits. It is the responsibility of our Overseas Volunteers to cover all other incurred costs like transportation and storage of the bedkits.

With support from her church and friends in Tanzania and Canada, Mama Wandoa covers the costs of travelling the long distances to inspect the distribution sites, transport the bedkits, stipends and meals for the volunteers who so ardently package the bedkit items and load the trucks, and myriads of other expenses.
From Tanzania 2010 Photos
She also manages to convince the manufacturers that it is their corporate responsibility to help the children of Tanzania. For example, the mattress manufacturer has provided the mattress at the same price for three years even though the cost of foam has increased considerably. He also stores the 7,000 mattresses at the factory, allowing the volunteers to load 700 per day onto the trucks.

One of the highlights of a Tanzanian distribution is attending a Sunday Service with Mama Wandoa, who is a respected Elder and Teacher. We are introduced to the the congregation and SCAW's mission is explained. We are asked to say a few words. We understand very little of the liturgy which is in Swahili but enjoy picking out the few words we have learned. Mama conscripts translators from the congregation to sit beside us and translate and guide us through the readings and responses. Because Swahili is phonetically similar to English, we are able to sing along with the kwayas (choirs).

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
The kwayas blow us away! The singing is rich and powerful with a range of voices in harmony and dance routines. It is moving to see the congregation worship with every fibre of their being as though each one is intimately connected to God.

Then the surprise ... there is a special In Memorial offering for the AIDS orphans supported by the church in memory of Ken Webb (Linda's husband, Christopher's father) and Linda and Christopher, surrounded by the orphans and the SCAW team, are called to the front of the altar to receive a blessing from the Bishop.

The tears flow ... but they are joyful tears!

Team Tanzania 2010

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Tanzania: Ibariki Africa

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Each morning, as the team van pulls up to the school we are visiting we are met by the many school children also arriving to start their day. As we prepare the layout for the distribution, and set up the bedkit and camera for photo taking, the young pupils are also preparing for their day - sweeping the leaves around the school yard, dropping off the firewood they have collected on their way to school, watering the plants, and even cutting the grass in the school yard.

When both the SCAW team and the school children are ready to begin their day, there is usually time for a small break so that we can attend the school's morning assembly. We are welcomed with many smiles and "Good morning" and we are always greeted by the sound of drums and singing voices.

Click to watch the video.
In perfect order, and with each and every child singing proudly, we often hear the very beautiful song Mungu ibariki Africa which is the National Anthem of Tanzania.
We were given a translation of the words by a teacher, and thought we would share them with you with some of the swahili words to help you follow.
Click on the thumbnail to go to the video.:
God Bless Africa.
Bless its leaders.
Let Wisdom Unity and
Peace be the shield of
Africa and its people.

Ibariki Africa (Bless Africa),
Ibariki Africa (Bless Africa),
Tubariki watoto wa Africa (Bless Africa and its Children).

God Bless Tanzania.
Grant eternal Freedom and Unity
To its sons and daughters.
God Bless Tanzania and its People.

Ibariki Tanzania (Bless Tanzania),
Ibariki Tanzania (Bless Tanzania),
Tubariki watoto wa Tanzania (Bless Tanzania and its Children).

Team Tanzania 2010

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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tanzania: The Survey

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Day 6 & 7

One of the expectations of SCAW volunteers is to survey parents and children who are receiving bedkits about the quality and usefulness of the items included. Recipients are asked for feedback about what is included in the bedkit and also encouraged to make suggestions about additional items that would be useful to them.

This helps the team and Mama Wandoa make decisions about bedkit items for future distributions and gives us important insights into the lives of the families.

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Heather, Cathy, and Beth have been conducting surveys this week with the help of teacher/translators who have interpreted the questions and answers for short interviews with children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and other caregivers.

Hearing firsthand the struggles these families face reinforces the importance and value of SCAW’s mission. Talking with children and caregivers has highlighted that malaria, HIV, as well as many dental and skin ailments are part of the daily hardships these families have to deal with. With distance and financial obstacles in their way, many of these people will never see a doctor in their lifetime. Because of this limited access to medical treatment, early death has a profound impact on the family unit – many households share a roof with extended families, including orphaned relatives with numerous branches of the family sharing the same home.

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Undugu is a Swahili term for brotherhood but also a Tanzanian philosophy that describes the community spirit of supporting friends and extended family with generosity, consideration, and compassion. This is evident to us every morning, when we are greeted by crowds who have gathered to watch the distribution, whether or not their children have been selected to receive bedkits. One mother expressed her appreciation that SCAW travels directly to these villages to deliver the bedkits personally.

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
This ensures that the bedkits get into the right hands, and also allows recipients to meet with Canadian volunteers. Murray Dryden’s vision of a volunteer-run, relationship organization reflects the philosophy of undugu and as volunteers we are humbled by the chance to witness this community spirit in action in Tanzania.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tanzania: House Visit in Mwarusembe

Day 5

Come visit the home of a bedkit recipient with us ………

Try to imagine a bucolic tropical setting surrounded by lush vegetation, coconut palms, papaya, and banana trees. Serene and peaceful! Sounds inviting and stress free, doesn’t it.? No traffic, no punching in the clock, no deadlines to meet, no blackberries.

Now try to imagine an area of hard pan red clay about 6 x 10 metres, swept spotlessly clean. Imagine a tiny shelter made of mud with a thatched roof. About 2 X 8 metres. This is home to two families. No running water, enough cassava for one meal a day, no electricity, no protection from rain or snakes. In one of these rooms, the bedkit will provide comfort, not only for the child who received it, but for the entire family.

Have a look at the photos. You will understand how we struggled to write this blog post.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Monday, 9 August 2010

Tanzania: Kimanzichana

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Day 4

Walk a mile, or two, or three, in their shoes

Today’s distribution was the furthest inland yet. We set our alarms for 4:30 am and drove for two-and-a-half hours out of Dar es Salaam. While we drove out of the city and through villages along the way, hundreds if not thousands of school children were also making their morning journey -- only their journey was by foot.

Arriving on site we could not help but notice that many of these young ones, already assembling to accept their bedkits, had made this journey without shoes. As we fought the traffic, pollution, and the elements in an eight-passenger van, many of these young people would have walked along the main roads for up to two hours to arrive at school.

We all take our shoes for granted. For these children, the flip flops in the bedkit will be their first pair of shoes. Having shoes is a requirement for attending school, but head teachers often ask their staff to make dress code exceptions for those children who cannot afford these basics but wish to attend class.

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
After setting up shop, we were invited into a tiny furniture-less classroom where we were serenaded by sixty kids all sitting on the floor. One song in their repertoire was highly appropriate. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Ken, whose birthday fell on our day off on Sunday. When the children sang ‘How old are you now?’ Ken chose not to respond in song.

Although there is visible need at all the sites we’ve visited so far, today’s more rural location presented us with a group of children whose needs were more dire. Some of the children wore red patches sewn onto their shirts indicating they were HIV-positive and therefore in need of extra assistance. Bedkits were given to these children earlier in the day and teachers explained that these children are given exceptions and extra support in class, especially when it comes to assigning homework and physical activities.

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
On our journey back home we passed many children now carrying their bedkits home along the same routes they travelled in the morning. Although their load was certainly heavier with the bedkits in tow, we witnessed them laughing, smiling, and waving with a skip in their step as they made their way home.

More pictures have been added to our photo album which you can also watch as a slideshow.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Tanzania: Day Off in Zanzibar

What is Zanzibar?

"Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beacheswith fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa."

From the moment we landed we were immersed in the exotic culture and history of Zanzibar. We were fortunate to have a knowledgeable guide who peppered his commentary with double entendres and comical observations about any and everything, especially politics. Our day with Said began at the historical Serena Hotel with a breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean. We had the opportunity for a walk through Stone Town, a visit to a Spice Farm, and of course, shopping.

Have a look at our Zanzibar Photo Album and Slideshow.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tanzania: Our Overseas Volunteers

Mama Wandoa and her team of volunteers

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
The Live Reports Blog tends to be dedicated to the experiences of the SCAW volunteers who go abroad to distribute bedkits, but our success in reaching so many thousands of children, hinges on the behind-the-scenes work of many local volunteers who work here in Tanzania.

Before we even arrived, Mama Wandoa had been working tirelessly to ensure we would not only have 7,000 complete bedkits, but that each and every bedkit would be ready to be delivered on the right day and at the right time to the specific children who are identified by schools and local authorities as being in need.

In previous posts, we mentioned our 5 AM wake-up calls – but did you know that before we even arrive at the distribution sites, Mama Wandoa and her team of twenty volunteers have already begun their work? We thought for today’s blog we would walk you through the experience of our Overseas Volunteers in Tanzania.
4 AM: Twenty volunteers wake up at Mama Wandoa’s house. They have all slept over wherever they can find a spot and wake up ready to start another distribution day. They are out the door as quickly as possible so that they can get to the sites, start unloading the trucks, and plan the layout for the distribution.

7 AM: By now the SCAW volunteers have arrived. Mama’s team have already unloaded 700 mattresses and bedkits and begin to take their 15-minute breakfast breaks, in groups of five.

7:30 AM to 1 PM: When the distribution starts, Mama’s team focuses on getting the arriving children organised, checking their names on Mama’s long list (which she oversees with a careful eye), and helping the children change into their new t-shirts and shorts for photo-taking. This carries on throughout the day until the distribution in complete.

1:30 PM: After taking down the site, the team of volunteers heads towards the BANCO mattress factory, having lunch along the way.

3 PM: Arrival at the mattress factory. Mama Wandoa’s daughter, Joyce, oversees the loading of 700 more mattresses for tomorrow’s distribution.

6 – 7 PM: After loading the trucks, the volunteers grab a quick dinner before heading back to Mama Wandoa’s for even more packing and sorting!

8 PM: Back at Mama Wandoa’s the bedkits are packed, checked, and counted and then loaded onto the trucks for the next day.

11 PM: Bedtime at last! If things go perfectly the team finishes by 11 PM, but sometimes not until midnight! After the trucks are loaded and everything is double checked, Mama Wandoa and her fantastic crew get to bed, ready for another 4 AM wake-up call, and another day of distribution!
Mama Wandoa has recruited these dedicated volunteers from her work with the Upendo AIDS Centre. Many of them are Peer Educators whom she has worked with for some time, as well as a few friends and extended family members who have also graciously given their time to our cause.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Friday, 6 August 2010

Tanzania: Day Two

Even though our day started off like this.
It ended like this.

After another successful distribution of 700 bedkits, we had the opportunity to visit two of the factories which are producing the t-shirts, mattresses and water jugs for our bedkits.

We were greeted by Patrick Lumumba at Kibotrade Textiles who showed us around the facilities and talked us through the process of fairtrade manufacturing which includes providing good working conditions and fair wages. It was great to see where the t-shirts and shorts we have been distributing are made and reassuring to witness the work ethic that goes into making these high-quality clothes.
From Tanzania 2010 Photos

For our second stop, we visited the factories that produce the mattresses (BANCO) and three-litre water jugs (Unoplast Ltd.). Again we were impressed by the quality of their work and the additional support they provide Mama Wandoa by storing the thousands of mattresses so that they can be picked up each night before the next distribution.

One of the roles of the SCAW team is to visit the factories which make the items in the bedkits, so that we can be assured that there are local economic benefits in addition to providing children with a good night’s sleep.

You can see more photos in our photo album or our slideshow.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tanzania: Minazi Mirefu

From Tanzania 2010 Photos
Day 1

With cooperation from the weatherman and the strong organizational skills of Mama Wandoa and her team of volunteers, our first distribution at Minazi Mirefu was a huge success!

Bedkits were distributed to an enthusiastic, patient, and well-mannered group of seven hundred children. We were greeted at 7:30 am in the school courtyard with the Tanzanian national anthem, sung by two thousand students grades K-7.

The day ran smoothly, allowing for time spent entertaining and interacting with the school children. It goes without saying that many little ones will sleep well tonight (as well as a tired team of volunteers).

After a 5 am start (and with another one ahead of us) the team is off to bed. They say a picture is worth a thousand words – so here are another 10,000 words worth to show off a successful first day are in our photo album or our slideshow!

Lala salama. (Sleep well.)

Team Tanzania 2010

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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tanzania: The team has arrived

The SCAW 2010 Tanzania team connected with the last member in Dubai this morning.

Here is our official team photo in the Dubai airport. Left to right: Tall guys back row: Ken Dryden, Ted Swanston. Second row: Cathy Bury, Beth Poad , Linda Webb (Team Leader). Seated: Heather Roswell, Chris Webb. (Click photo to see a larger version.)

Five hours later we arrived in Dar es Salaam grateful for the 90 degree weather ... much cooler than the 108 in Dubai! We have had our first meeting with the indomitable Mama Wandoa and practised the bedkit setup.

We are now all ready for a good night's sleep and raring to go at 5:30 a.m. on our first distribution tomorrow morning.

Team Tanzania 2010

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Tanzania: Post your comments here

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