Friday July 17th 2009
Saturday July 11th – I went to check the writing on the well & catchment tank, there were a few mistakes but these were corrected. The writing is very big, much larger than I anticipated & can be read from some distance! I was told that it didn’t matter because many people (including politicians) would be able to read it without their glasses, which they are reluctant to put on it seems some things are the same!!
FYI- the Prime Minister was a no show at the opening of the new St Stephens church due to violence in Mara northern TZ which borders Kenya. He had to mobilize the army & police to stop the killing (39 dead). It was all due to cattle rustling which is common at that border. Tanzanians elsewhere are very peaceful & caring.
Monday July 13th – By chance I met the District Commissioner (DC) Moshi Chang’a at the The Orion Tabora Hotel. He was attending a meeting with young Tanzanian politicians including the son of the President of TZ (Jakaya Kikwete) whom I also met & had a brief opportunity to tell them what I’m doing here. I took advantage of the occasion by inviting Mr Chang’a to come & see the project.
He is a Muslim short rotund, very dark & commands quite a presence! I had seen him at the opening of the new church, & thought he was a radio personality!! Of course they haven’t got such a thing here in Tabora!. He did some fundraising at the end of the ceremony raising an impressive amount from local politicians, police commissioner & the like. He is well liked & respected for getting girls into government school programs.
Canon Peter Warr of Canterbury Cathedral also joined us, he is staying in the Bishops guest house which is why I wasn’t able to. The Anglican Diocese here is very conservative, men & women don’t stay under the same roof in the Bishops guest house. Peter’s donated a huge amount of money to build a school & a 40’ container of medical supplies for St. Philips clinic. All of us associated with the Tabora Diocese get free medical care like malaria pills which cost a lot in EU/ USA.
Wednesday July 15th – We went to meet Mr Chang’a at his office to pick him up & had to wait around for 40 mins or so while he dealt with a constant stream of people. I’m getting used to this hurry up & wait!
I wanted to remind him of the awful road leading to the project which also goes to Livingstone’s museum. I suggested to Mr Changa’a that he might consider getting some work done on the Kwihala Village road since the museum is the only thing of interest internationally in Tabora! One has to be very diplomatic in these sensitive matters! Canon Peter reminded me that tourists pay a fortune to drive on such roads!
I told Mr Chang’a about my father’s work with PWD on the trucks which built the road from Dar to the Zambian border, & the footage he filmed of the museum. He offered to put a proper plaque w/glass on a wood stand with a dedication to my parents as a gift to me.
He was amazed that I came back to TZ to honour my family as well as help the poor in his rural district.Canon Peter blessed the well at my request just like in Hawaii!.
Afterwards we had a meeting with the village water committee in what was a former chiefs house dating back to post Livingstone. The last chief is buried there along with some who had been killed fighting the Arab slave traders. Mr Chang’a informed me that at one time there was a woman chief who was also a Princess & a Queen. I’d like to hear more about her, there is a lot of history in Tabora region.
Mr Chang’a is a good orator, motivator & has a great sense of humour! I was able to follow the gist of it, which was I had come from very far away to do the water projects & it took me 4 years to save for the trip (true!). I could have given the money to my grandchildren, but instead I chose to come to Tanzania & contribute.
He said Tanzanians should learn from that & contribute whatever they can for the water project. The villagers who are subsistence farmers put up 52,000 shillings (approx $50) & will open a bank account to fund the maintenance of the well & catchment tanks.
Of course he would like me/Christopher to do some water projects in his home district! It’s hard to believe that it’s only last year when the government started doing water projects?! There are now more people than there are funds in the total budget.
Thursday July 16th – Christopher & I drove about 10k out of Tabora to a small building in the bush to meet up with Johnny Kazimoto the district health officer who is featured in the video of the first well at Inonelwa on the Carina Water Wells website & Youtube.
He was giving basic sanitation lessons to the water committees of the Dowser catchment tank, the Maui RC tank & well. They comprised of mzee’s (seniors), a mother & child & schoolboys & girls. I filmed it & Christopher took some photos too.
The thing I’ve found the hardest to deal with is the bathroom facilities, except for the hotels they are all pit latrines, the high end ones have concrete floors! If you are lucky there is a bucket of water with a jug to wash your hands & flush with!! I’ll never get used to it but am unwilling to forgo my morning cups of tea, so just have to grin & bear it!!
However I will miss being here, I’ve been adopted as part of the community. On the short walk to & from the hotel I’m sometimes greeted by name even ‘though I don’t recognize the person.
That’s how I encountered Johnny Kazimoto (district health officer) he was on his motor bike by the side of the road. I heard him say Ambrose & looked back briefly I didn’t recognize him & thought he was on a cell ‘phone talking to someone. Ambrose is not an uncommon first name for a man.
He then called Jacqueline so of course I stopped to chat. He now has accreditation in pest control. I told him the villagers at Inonwela Village (where we went together to see the location for Carina’s well in 2005) have offered me a plot of land. I mentioned that I don’t think I could live there due to snakes & mosquitoes, he promptly said he would go there & eradicate with “green” environmental products!
We will visit there next week because I need to move the plaque to a better location it’s getting damaged on the well. I’ll see what location they have in mind & mull over what to do with it. Needless to say there will be a lot of red tape which I’m not prepared to deal with. But then again I have got the DC Mr Chang’a on my side!
He is going to look into getting copies of the court cases my former husband John Owen heard as District Magistrate between ’60-’63. My son Adrian doesn’t know anything about that part of his father’s life. However knowing the hurry up & wait way of life here that might take some time, so I’ll have to return next year!
As I write this the church band are singing a slow song/hymn outside, this happens daily. The children in the Diocese compound break into singing & hand clapping every afternoon. Inside St Stephen’s chapel nursery school little children are noisily running around in their pretty purple uniforms. Roosters & hens run in & are chased out of the development office the hen laid an egg on top of the sack of Tabora Anglican Diocese T-shirts!
Faintly in the distance is the call for prayer from the Muslim mosque in town. Christians & Muslims live peacefully together in Tabora. One of the pastors Elias wrote a dissertation on the subject which is very interesting. I hope to use part of it for the documentary I hope to make the African Film Commission in LA is interested more about that another time
The Tabora Orion Hotel is another world, travellers coming & going, many NGO’s notably the Millennium Village project which the musician Bono is involved with. Farmers were given sunflower seeds & $100.00 as a loan which they were to repay with product. Inonwela Village (where Carina’s well is) is involved & I’m glad to hear they are one of the better projects.
It’s not doing as well as they hoped, & they’ve lost a lot of money. The problem with these efforts in this case is they apply USA methodology, e.g. bottom line profit margins. They then leave, it’s disheartening. Sustainability & a way for people to find their own way of living which is better suited to their environment is the way forward.
I think it’s wrong to try & drag them into the 21st century they are ill equipped to deal with it. What’s more we in the 1st world have turned them into beggars dependent on foreign aid for food. It’s so obvious to me returning here, stepping back in time. We need to help them help themselves.
The tobacco company guys are regular visitors of the hotel it’s sort of like their club! They play pool which I’m invited to do occasionally, smoke (ugh!) & drink plenty which I can’t keep up with & tell stories! They fly to their projects in a private king Air jet which is based in Malawi.
A couple of weeks ago I found out the accountant for the tobacco company a Brit, rents a house owned by the Tabora Diocese next to the compound with a swimming pool. I have a standing invitation to swim there which I’ve done several times. It’s not heated so very refreshing after dusty drives out to the project.
Everything is dry now so dust everywhere, I coughed my way through the first month but have adjusted to it somewhat. When walking I always carry a handkerchief with eucalyptus oil on it which I clasp to my nose very few seconds!
On Fridays-Sundays the Tabora Orion Hotel has a live African music band which begins at 9:30pm-3:30pm. I enjoyed the first couple of weeks & got out on the floor to dance, men dance with men & women alone or together. No one minds they just move in their inimitable African rhythmic way.
But the same songs are repeated & extremely loud so I now dread the weekends! I had the foresight to buy ear plugs en route so when I can’t take it anymore I retire to my room with 4 poster king size bed & mosquito net. Shut the windows on the music side, turn on the fan put in the plugs & try to sleep!
Tabora, town teems with bicycles made in China driven by Africans from the outlying areas with goods, chattels & passengers. They pay no heed to traffic laws because they don’t understand them! Motorcycles & vehicles, including huge trucks & buses drive helter skelter (no speed limit!) belching diesel fumes & dust clouds add to the chaos.
Somewhere in the melee of this a policeperson may be spotted waving their arms around in a feeble attempt to control the situation! At night there is always some music throbbing from somewhere, Africans love to sing & dance it’s in their blood! It brings some joy to the hardship of their daily lives.
I’ve taken advantage of Christopher the development officer’s absence on another project to write this final missive. Due to the cost of the internet I’m unable to send all photos taken but you can see them when I return.
Attached are some to show the completed projects. We will go to the well again next week with Mr Chang’a to plant mango trees & take photos of he & I doing that. When we were there on Wednesday, there was so much going on between tea & corn meal served at the school, a flat tyre & time constraints it was overlooked!
I leave Tabora for Dar on July 29th, stay there for 2 nights (hopefully meet with the Presidents’ son again!). Then to Arusha August 1st-August 10th to visit my brother back to Dar & leave for London August 11th.