It's hard to believe that our trip is pretty much over. We are busy packing up and getting ready for our flight home tomorrow. When we began talking about coming to Tanzania last April, August seemed so far away. In the months that followed numerous conversations were held, many emails were sent about what to teach the children, what equipment we needed to purchase, what to pack and how all of this would work. Suddenly August was upon us and we found ourselves at Dulles boarding our flight. I could never have imagined what Tanzania and its' people would be like.

Since our arrival we managed to see all of the children in level 3-7 which is similar to our grades 3-7, to teach them the basic parts of the computer and some keyboarding skills. Some children had never seen a computer before and a few had some experience with them. Regardless, all were very attentive and eager to learn. Alex, Brianna and Jack were extremely popular with the children and were sought out each day by the children for play time and conversation.

Today began with the children's daily assembly. They were handing out awards for a sports day they had held recently. The winners were called up and given a present. We shook hands and congratulated all of the winners and snapped photos of them (the children here LOVE having their picture taken). Afterward, Jack played the guitar for them and sang a song. This, too, was a hit with the children. Finally, we were given a chance to formally give them the gifts of the computer, printer, camera and soccer balls that we had for them. Despite our best efforts, neither the children nor the teachers are really convinced that we are leaving all of it behind for them. They cannot fathom it. Perhaps on Friday, when we are gone and the computers are still there it will sink in. Afterward we worked with the last few classes and then Maude went to work with Alice, the head mistress on creating a website for the school. Jack, Brianna and Alex worked with a few of the teachers that came back for some additional computer training.

In the meantime, Penny and I set out with two of the health workers from the Buguruni Health Centre for some home visits. I was humbled by these visits and all that we saw while traveling to them. The area of Dar Es Salaam that we are staying and the area where the school is located is by no means rich but I came to understand just how great the needs are in the area. Some homes have no electricity, none have running water and a bathroom in the home is non-existent. Cooking is all done outside of their home and one small 1000 square foot house with 6 tiny rooms can house up to 6 entire families. Roads, if one can call them that, in these neighborhoods are narrow, unpaved,  horribly uneven and rocky. The needs of the families were different but one thing remained constant. None of them had enough- enough food, enough medicine, and at the core of it all- enough money. Despite their great needs, they were all incredibly welcoming and friendly. They never once asked for anything from us and it took some work to get from them exactly what their needs were. In the end, we did what we could in the moment- offer some rice, salt, soap, tea, flour and sugar and we will see what we can do behind the scenes to meet the rest. I can't help but think though, how many more there are out there that need help that we don't even know about. The idea of it overwhelms me.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to come to Tanzania. It has been a truly amazing and life altering experience for both Brianna and I. Me and the other missioners here, are so grateful to our church community for your generosity and your support. I wish there was a way that we could truly convey to you what it was like to see the children's eyes sparkle in wonder and delight as they did things on the computer or the humble gratitude of the villagers we visited. Or, I wish you could have heard the cheers of the children today when they were told that all of the children would be treated to lunch tomorrow. The roar told me just how many belly's rumble in hunger during the day.  Your support helped make that lunch and the entire trip possible. So on behalf of the mission team and the children, Asanti Sana! (Thank you very much!)

Cheryl

 


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