Settled back in Morogoro
We are having a great time so far here in Tanzania. It is a beautiful country and the people are also warm and hospitable. After a day and a half in Dar Es Salaam, we took the bus to Morogoro, arrived late, stayed one night, and left the next day for Mpwapwa. A huge blessing was that the Bishop of Morogoro let us use his land rover rather than having to take the bus, so we were able to make lots of stops and have a.c.! Amazing!
Our driver, Stanley, was a great tour guide and mwalimu (teacher). We got to stop at a side of the road market and buy sweet potatoes from a bunch of beautiful women and girls. Over all, it was quite and adventure just getting to Mpwapwa.
When we arrived, we visited old friends of Blair & Kevins, Godfrey & Rachael Tarling, missionaries from the UK who have built a clinic called St. Lukes. Godfrey is a builder and Rachael a doctor, and they have two kids in boarding school in the UK and Timothy, their six year old, still at home with them. They are pretty amazing people, and their love for and commitment to the community is evident. It is primarily a clinic for women and children--a birthing center--because many women still die in childbirth in their villages. They can come a few days before delivery and have a clean place and good medical care.
Our meetings in Mpwapwa were with the Tanzanian small group facilitators. There were 9 who were able to be there, these are all Christians who were chosen by their priests/parishes as people who had already exhibited leadership and service to their communities. They have received small group training in the previous workshops, and they will be the ones facilitating the HIV/AIDS education and small group activities, discipleship training and leadership development that will happen at the two workshops.
We had introductions, went over the new curriculum (Judy Dabler and the Peacemaker curriculum), talked about what they have been doing in their own communities with the small groups they lead there. Many are visiting the sick, taking care of orphans, doing H/A education dramas and choir performances. Mzee Wondo (Elder Wondo) has received more training in stigma reduction and is going to share with the entire workshop some of the things he has learned. The facilitators are lively and I really enjoyed just watching how they care for one another and how excited they were to see one another.
Our return trip from Mpwapwa was adventure filled as well. We said our goodbyes to the Tarlings and got on the road. Two of the facilitators joined our trip to one of the villages on the way out of town. There, in Kibakewe, we visited Father Dennis' (the priest we ware working with) house and saw the church he helped to build.
We also took a side trip to a village of one of the facilitators, Edwardi, to see if he had received the letter and would be able to come. That was only about a two hour detour!! (In Dennis' mind--5 minutes from the main road!)
Back on the road for an hour and a half, we took another side trip to an orphanage at Berega. It was about 25 km inside the bush off the main road. Ute, a German missionary, has been there for 9 years, but the orphange was established in teh 60's. It's actually more like a care center--an amazing idea. The crucial thing here is that if the mother dies in childbirth, the baby has to be fed with formula. Most formulas cost around $5 for a small can, which you go through in about 3 days. Most laborers make less than $30 a month, so village families have literally no way of feeding these babies. This home takes the babies in for the first two years of their lives to help get through that critical stage.
They also have started really incredible thing of having a young girl (12-20 years old) from the baby's family come to live at the home to be like the nanny. The girls receive a place to live, food and education about how to care for the children, and the baby then makes attachment to a member of their family. This enables them to readjust to life when they return home because they have attached to the girl who cares for them. It was both heartbreaking and a blessing to visit this home.
Yesterday was church. We missed the Swahili service (at 7 am!) and went to the English service. We spent the afternoon with Dennis, his wife Mama Elia and their kids. It was a relaxing day up the mountain.
Best go now, this is enough. Sorry no pictures yet, will get there soon.
Hope you all are well; please go to Shakespeare in the park for me!