So long, and thanks for all the chicken

It was a strange journey in the sense that it clearly is an experience unmatched by any other. Like China, Tanzania is a country of big contrasts - very rich and very poor, unbelievable natural beauty and hard to believe tristesse. The best about this trip are the people I met. I will miss the women from the Rudisha Women’s Group, but mostly I will miss Johnson and his wonderful group of friends: Bumper2Bumper, Margaret, Rashid, Deb, to name a few.
The conference in Dar hopefully is the start of a good cooperation with Margaret Mushi from OU TZ and Brenda Mallinson from SADIE.
The most prominent feature, what I will probably never forget, is how welcoming people are, as well as how often you are the Muzungu. I guess you know you really have settled in here, when you are not referred to as the Muzungu any longer.
Elimu ni mali - Education is wealth. Yesterday I had the women write another test and, as expected, Aisha and Sara had by far the best results. But all of them did well. I hope Caroline will be able to continue the teaching; I left her most of my books and some ideas on how to continue. I hope the book I ordered for her will be helpful. These women really want to learn and they, do if they are given the chance.
I’m also glad Johnson took me on a trip to a small mountain village two days ago. The local secondary school will have students from an American school visiting next week. The best students were selected to host the American kids and we went with the teacher to visit the homes and to see what might be needed. I know, this is a worn out expression, but it did almost break my heart how some of them live and I’m full of respect that they are still the top students. One boy shares his home with his 90 year old grandfather, which means after school he takes care of everything. They live in a mud house without water and electricity. Another student, who is also an orphan, lives with her aunt, who has several children of her own, was left by her husband and on top of everything else has had breast cancer for the last 3 years. It seems she is in the terminal stage. I really hope that some of the American kids will keep in touch and that a few scholarships for those in worst circumstances come out of this. Having said all that, we also visited families, living in a nice house (however, without electricity), with parents who will do anything to help their children to make it through school. It was wonderful to see how neighbours or relatives take on the challenge and become guardians, despite their own difficult living conditions.
I will have to write about Margaret and children of destiny in a later posting. An extraordinary woman, taking care of very special children, orphans between 4 and 18 years of age.
On a more trivial note: I won’t eat chicken for a while and although I like it, I have also had enough avocados for a while… Not being able to eat tomatoes, sugar and beef turned out to be a real challenge. But obviously this is moaning on a very high level - considering that a lot of the people I met and worked with have to survive on 1-3$ per day.

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