This series of posts features Brenda Robertson, Regional Director for Ontario North. Brenda spent November in Tanzania working with community groups. We will be posting another segment of her experiences each Friday, check back here to see her latest post.
By: Brenda Robertson, Regional Director Ontario North
As I begin this article, the snow is swirling all around on this frosty afternoon. Very different from my experiences in East Africa in November where the intense sun shines brightly and the hot sand fills your sandals. The inland areas are exceedingly dry and food shortages have impacted the Masai in the north. Our third journey to Tanzania was well planned and had a full schedule of activities. Three of us this time, PatKalapaca from GrandValley, Christine Fortin, North Bay and myself travelled from Dar es Salaam to the central region, Dodoma, then north to Arusha and Longido. We met with many community groups, the youth, schools and health clinics….. Each time we are inspired by the resilience of the people, their determination to overcome adversity and build a better life for their children. We give out our supplies, baby hats, knitted teddy bears, school materials…..knowing that we receive far more than what we are giving. Over these seven years, we continue to build relationships, friendships in each of the areas we go. How wonderful to reunite, make new connections and share our stories. For me this is a special gift. Video and rolls of film tell more of the story. The Sauti Moja Org. works with the Masai in the north and are doing some amazing work supporting two Montessori schools along with other initiatives which include Community Conversations about HIV/AIDS, the Girl-child, and Widows.
Our Mpunguzi Youth Resource Centre in Dodoma area has become a hub of the community where the new Community Based Council has set up their offices in an adjacent building that used to be the hostel. The community needs a Health Clinic closer to the distant villages. Travel distance is a huge concern for health care. These buildings are not large, but would provide some basic care that is not available at this time. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting with my sponsored child Asha now aged sixteen, and her family. If you have ever considered child sponsorship, I can tell you firsthand how your sponsorship supports not only the child, but the whole community through assistance to schools, nutrition programs and building wells to name a few areas.
Numerous meetings were also in Dar es Salaam from the Canadian High Commissioner Robert Orr to the Tanzanian Ambassador’s wife Joyce. Thanks to Dianne Rummery, CFUW Ottawa who introduced me to Joyce last July while at the AGM. Susan Phillips of IFUW was instrumental in providing me the name of the former CIR for Tanzania, Gertrude Mapunda who was a wealth of information on maternal health care and on other issues of concern affecting women in the country.
Pat and I will continue in the development work we started in 2003 through Retired Teachers. We are grateful to CFUW North Bay for their generous support of schools in the Mpunguzi area and the materials/donations given by family, friends and neighbors to take with us.
In closing, I would like to leave you with this thought. ‘When one dreams, it is only a dream. But when many dream the same dream it becomes a reality.’ (Village of Hope quote)
Two dreams for the Mpunguzi community are building a health clinic and hiring a secondary teacher for English at the Youth Centre. I invite you to consider the change you could make in the daily lives of one child, one family, one village, one community.
In following articles, I would like to expand on each area briefly mentioned in this overview of our ongoing development work in Tanzania since 2003.