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Entries in Africa (9)


Tanzania Mission, soundtrack

We're back, but still in jetlag-la-la-land. I'll post a longer report tomorrow (about poverty) but in the meantime here's a clip of a village choir in Pommern. I attended three different church services, different denominations, and all had amazing choirs. We heard them practicing all week, much to our delight.

Also, musically-speaking, Britt, Madi, and Karissa managed to make the "Cup Song" from Pitch Perfect part of an English lesson. Here's the final result.


Tanzania Mission, leaving (sadly)

Our last day ended with a school-wide celebration, followed by a special dinner at the mission house.

Sorry for the absence of updates. No, I wasn't been eaten by meerkats nor have I "chucked it all," Apocalypse Now-style to go live in the jungle. Basically, the Gods of the Interwebs were unkind the past several days, which wasn't always a bad thing.

We're back in Dar es Salaam after twelve hours on the road (complete with crossing baboons). I'll post a multi-day recap once I'm back in the US, but for now I have to say that I'm experiencing the first pangs of what can best be described as "re-entry shock".

I'm just not ready for the world of Kardashians, infomercials, Botox, or $4 coffee. I miss the red dirt on my socks, greeting everyone we see (and having that greeting warmly returned), and I miss hearing little kids yell "tee-cha!"


Tanzania Mission, weekend off

Despite the weekend off, we still got up at chicken-thirty. The rooster that crows outside our door will become Lucas’ birthday dinner on Monday. I’m looking forward to sleeping past 6:00 AM on Tuesday.

Today we wandered back over to the Italian-run orphanage and chatted with folks for a while. So strange to banter back and forth with Europeans in Swahili. Then we played football with the little kids who all know our names by now and linger on the road and call our names while we’re napping (they know we have a real soccer ball).

The kids know us now and shout our names from the road when they want to play.

The rest of the crew went to Ruaha National Park while Karissa and me stayed behind. We wanted to go check out the churches tomorrow so we’re going to the Katoliki Mass at 8:00 AM and then the Lutheran service on the other side of the village at 10:30 AM. When in Rome…wait, didn’t the Roman’s throw Christians to the lions? I get very confused. Though I’m especially excited for the Lutheran service. I’ve been hearing their choir practice all week and they’re ridiculously amazing.

A previous visitor with Global Volunteers spent a few weeks here and then went home to Boston and raised funds to bring the Pomerini Choir to the US for two months (40 concerts). The concert proceeds paid for the piping to bring water to the village. Before 2008, women and children would walk 5 km each way to fetch water, going back and forth several times throughout the day as needed for cooking, washing, bathing, etc.

Tomorrow get to hear the choir for free. And enjoy water anytime.


Tanzania Mission, Day 4: Tears in the morning

Woke up early and saw an elderly woman passing by with a cane, she seemed to be crying. I shortly found out that there had been a death in the village the previous night and word had spread and that everything would be a bit subdued today as everyone prepared for the burial.

That set the tone for a sobering day.

We spend most of the morning with Dr. Elton, the resident clinician who is a dentist by training but does everything from pulling teeth to delivering babies to treating malaria, managing AIDS cases, and overseeing various forms or birth control and family planning. The morning was overwhelming—just to see it. The medicine on-hand was probably less than you have in your bathroom medicine cabinet (and this is a clinic that treats 4,000 patients from five villages). Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe it. When I think about more developed areas of the world spending money on frivolous medical procedures and I wanted to cry. Karissa did. All morning.

The whole thing was confounded by a gorgeous modern clinic within walking distance that had been built by the Roman Catholic Church but had no doctor and sat empty because of a political situation regarding obtaining a license. And they can't coordinate with the Lutheran clinic which promotes birth control. Ah, religion, you somehow get in the way of God and Man.

But lest you harp on organized (or in this case disorganized) religion, the Lutheran mission here offers free medical service to anyone without regard to faith and without this clinic the mortality rate in the villages would be far worse than it already is.

So if you’re a proud atheist or agnostic who thinks organized religions have caused more harm than good in the world, look around. I don’t see any atheist missions caring for the poor and dying.

The rest of the day was filled with Swahili lessons, visits to the school, meeting with Haran, the headmaster, running into a group of Italian and Polish aid-workers, visiting the Catholic orphanage, meeting with a Spanish monk, and walking back beneath power lines that could provide electricity to the village but the nearest power station is hundreds of miles away. Frustrating to look up and see electricity running from hydroelectric dams and yet no way to access it.

Dinner. Assignments and planning for tomorrow. Leesha will head to the clinic and the rest of us will head to the schools. I’ll be teaching Math. God help us all!