Wednesday, 17 July 2019
When I first visited Tanzania in June 2009 little did I know what lay ahead. It was to be a one off visit and now here am celebrating my 10th year. It is difficult to express the profound effect that this country and its people has had on me, my life,my family and many others. I have heard it said that once you visit Africa and the people you have to return. Its gets under your skin. Is it the vastness of the country the difference in customs, culture, colour of our skins that so attracts? Who can say. For me it has been an amazing education that no books, films or the spoken work could ever have had the same influence. I am not a brave person and just flying is to be avoided but every year, once and even twice I have undertaken the long flights and after the first 4 years not direct to Dar es Salaam. Then there has been the grueling journey in the land-cruiser, mostly cross country with no tarmacadam for 10 hours until reaching our destination, Mpwapwa town. Many people have joined me on my visits and all have returned. My family have always been very supportive and in the beginning were a bit shocked at my desire to keep returning to Tanzania. My daughter Rebecca and my husband Trevor had no wish to visit but you can never tell what is round the corner! I think my enthusiasm sharing of experiences and the 100's of photographs made some impact.
It is well known that Africa and its people are not blessed with the many facilities we take for granted. Water and food are often a great challenge and all the daily commodities and amenities that we enjoy. I was made very aware of this during my first visit particularly the many orphan children who have few opportunities to improve their very survival. Two villages in particular, Chitemo and Nyhinila remained in my memory on my return in 2009 because of the many orphan children, 300 in fact. Many countries in the content of Africa have little or no infrastructure for those who have physical disabilities or are orphans. Somehow whether they are adult or children they just have to survive often on their own or rely on the charity of village members. Thankfully Chitemo and Nyhinila had the influence of the Christian church and were trying to help the orphan children. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in Africa and these two villages reflected this, particularly the smaller one Nyhinila. The villagers had nothing more than the little mud brick houses they had built and a little land to grown there crops so that they would have food. Chitemo had a water bore-hole, the people of Nyhinila had to walk 7 kilometers to Nyhinila to access water. A daily challenge.
When I first visited many of the adults and certainly all the children had never seen a white person before. They were wary of me and the many children ran away crying. However, these people are so resilient, used to dealing with anything life has thrown at them so I was not much of a challenge and in no time their curiosity got the better of them and they wanted to come closer and find out about this strange person with white skin and blond hair. By the end of the day the children all sang to me in Swahili and when I had it translated they thanked me for visiting them and prayed that I would return. When I heard this I was very moved and also saddened as this was a one off visit.
On my return to the UK after much thought I contacted all the large charities to see if there was anything they could do to help these villages but with little success. My answer was to return 10 months later and this was the beginning of the 10 year relationship that led in 2014 to forming my charity SEEDS4tanzania. My son became our Patron and donated our first £5000 to get us going. Rebecca, daughter took on the role of secretary/accounts and after our first trustee left to form another charity we were joined by Jacqui a lady who 5 years ago said to me after I had done a presentation on the charity, 'is there something I could help you with'. Little did she know what the future held for her. My husband Trevor became the 'Goffer' it speaks for its self! Rebecca and Trevor were very happy to help with feet firmly planted in England but they gave in and Rebecca had joined visits for the past 6 years and for Trevor this year will be his 3rd visit. Jacqui has been out twice and is already planning 2021! 2017 my grandson Oliver then (18) joined the visit and the following year his brother William (17). Both grandson during their visits were honoured to be baptised into the local Gogo tribe and given Gogo names. Oliver Mzengo which means builder and William Sehewa (blessing). We have always self-funded our visits which has been a big commitment for all involved.
Back to SEEDS. After 4 years of visits and talking with the people and getting their trust it was decided that the best way forward was to enable the building of a pre-school in Chitemo. This led to a second school in Nyhinila. We fully equipped the schools, had 5 villagers trained as primary school teachers and in the past 5 years we have added a water-borehole in Nyhanila (majority of the funds donated by a previous Trustee who with friends jumped out of a aeroplane) . SEEDS have also helped fund adults who have wanted to attend university, funded schooling for children from other areas and many other smaller projects. Since the opening of the village schools we have funded their maintenance, teachers teaching materials and allowances for the teacher. However, it has always been our aim that by 2020 our two villages would become self-supporting and independent. To enable this to happen we had to find a way for the villages to generate the funds required to maintain the schools and pay their teachers. It was decided after much discussion with the villagers that piglet breeding and the sale of piglets would produce the funds needed. We built pigstys in the villages,had villagers trained in pig breeding, supplied the sows,boars and pig feed and after a rocky start two years ago piglet production was underway. Money is already accumulating in a specific bank account. At the beginning of October we shall be in our villages to celebration and mark the coming of their independence and taking on the responsibilities of the Schools, water-bore hole and piglet project. Although we shall have handed over our three main projects we are continuing to support the schooling for Maasai orphans and our relationship with Chitemo and Nyhinila will never end as we have not only become firm friends but also family.
Chitemo school has 158 children Nyinila 82 space is running out more classrooms are needed
The water-bore hole we provided in 2014 is life saving particularly when there has been little rain. This year 2019 the rainy season has been very poor which has decimated the harvest of crops and there will be a serious shortage of home grown food. Grain to buy will be very expensive.
Transporting Trevor the boar on a motorbike from Nyhinila to Chitemo to do his duty!
The fruit of Trevor's and sows get-together!
Maasai orphans who will attend school
Rucksacks at the ready
Schooling Education Empowerment Development Sustainability
A big thank you to the many organisations and individuals who have supported us in so many different way. A big thank you to my family for all the support and encouragement.
June 2009 The start of my journey with Chitemo and Nyhinila