Salama, Hello, Hola or Hei Hei,

My brain is dizzy with the mish-mash of languages it encounters! Salama or jambo must become my second nature as they are Swahili greetings and I am expected to learn at least the basics.

The big news is the trip is booked. I leave via London on Sept 11th and return to London on April 10th 2014. My first two weeks accommodation is booked in a hostel. Yep hostel as in shared quarters and possibly bunk beds! From here I hope to learn and find my feet with other volunteers and make a decision re long term accommodation.

Sponsorship via the days system is starting to come in and I thank each sponsor profoundly on behalf of myself and the kids at Amani. Keep it coming though there are still plenty of days left!! Clickhere to grab days!!

Enough from me.

The question from all sponsors, friends and family has been consistent.

“Is this something you have always wanted to do?”

Today I share a story that pinpoints the first time volunteering in Africa ever occurred to me. At that point it was no more than an idea and I never dreamed it would actually happen!

Den and I spent two very happy holidays in South Africa both encompassing travel around the region and trips to Zambia. We loved the country, culture, food and people (not to mention the wine). Hence my choice has been selected from the African countries. It was during our first trip in 2004 which encompassed a three day stay in Zambia that the seed of an idea re voluntary work was planted.

During the Zambia trip Den and I visited the local village on an organised visit. This visit had a great impact on both of us but in very different ways. I came away with my first thoughts of the unfairness of the world’s balance and with an impression of the rewards that could be gained from helping underprivileged kids. Den came away troubled and upset at the plight of the people we met. He could not handle seeing this first hand, he like many, will change the channel when the adverts show the plight of children.

The village was well organised and had its own school, it was clear to me that it benefitted greatly from the sponsorship of the holiday makers at the lodge. However the poverty was obvious and we met a man who had lost his wife to HIV that morning. He was sat on the floor outside his hut working a piece of metal, patiently cleaning and polishing the former rusty bit of scrap ready to reform it into one of the metal trinkets he made and then sold. He never stopped working the metal and Den was horrified when we were told of his loss. He asked how old his wife had been as the man looked hardly any older than our own son in his mid-twenties.

Our guide posed the question to the man who calmly continued his work and shrugged his shoulders after acknowledging she had been 26. Den told the guide to apologise to the man for our disturbance and to give our heartfelt sympathies. As the guide finished speaking the man looked up at us for the first time and again nonchalantly shrugged his skinny shoulders while his hands continued to forge the metal. He assessed us both and then, looking back at his work, replied.

“It happens.” The guide translated simply.

The children were a delight and clearly used to visitors. They rushed to greet us and the boys threw themselves at Den kicking a tired and battered old football. The girls wanted to hold my hand and stroke my hair, their beautiful radiant smiles and happy laughter belied the poverty they faced each day. Den stayed playing with the children while I continued the tour and went into the school to meet the teacher. I knew Den was upset by our encounter with the bereaved man.

The teacher was an English speaking woman who quickly and in a matter of fact fashion gave me the cruel statistics of village life, child mortality, frightening short life expectancy, HIV and the difficulties of educating the adults about protection. I was shocked to see condom posters crudely stuck on the classroom walls next to the expected Aa, Bb, Cc pictures.

“If we teach the children we stand a better chance of at least getting their mothers to listen and learn.” Was the straightforward answer to my enquiry, but she spoke with passion and there was a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment emanating from her.

This story tells of my first thoughts of volunteering and why I have selected Africa.

Why Tanzania?

Another tale for another day! But to give a hint it is a sentimental choice and, of course, Den features as in all my life stories.

Mchana mwema / Have a nice day.



4 thoughts on “Trip booked and bunk beds waiting

  1. Hi Gill – haven’t heard from you whether you have booked 3rd Oct and 9 March for me. I cannot find the link to the calendar. Don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Chris


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