The African Adventure was 2-3 years in the making.
For several years my Rotary club had been supporting a few projects in the Arusha/Moshi area of Tanzania. The initiatives were led and developed by one member, and we all got regular updates from Alan.
In the period leading up to me becoming president of of the club in July ’11, I had the idea of a group visit to see the projects. Around the same time, my son was planning an expedition to Peru – high altitude trekking in the Andes, and a conservation project in the Amazon Basin. Learning about his trip made me a bit envious.
Then I realised Mt Kilimanjaro is in the Arusha/Moshi area as well. I started to join the dots…
The thoughts eventually led to 3 club members, 2 of their wives and one other, all climbing the mountain to raise funds for the projects. In addition, 8 others came with us – the supporters club – to see the projects, go on safari and visit Zanzibar. One of them is from the Dundee Discovery Rotary Club.
Phew! Out of small acorns…
After the 6 of us hit the summit of Kilimanjaro, we had 3 days on project business.
We started with a Saturday morning meeting with Moshi Rotary Club and the Kilimanjaro Albino Society to present the Society with a book we had published to help counter prejudice against albinos. It will be distributed to primary schools countrywide, and was the focus of our fundraising effort.
After a quick lunch which (African style) became a slow lunch, it was back into the minibus and off to join the Tengeru Rotary Club for its weekly meeting. Tengeru is a small town close to Arusha, on the Moshi side.
That was fun. They meet in the garden of a local restaurant. Rotary under banana trees. A member had brought along 4 cucumbers grown on his farm to auction for club funds – guess who got them.
Sunday afternoon was set aside for our fun day at Upendo Leprosy Home. The club has been supporting some of the children there so they can stay at school (their parents have been left disabled by the disease).
The plan was party games, a 5-a-side football game, and a picnic. The older residents turned out for the fun too, and they loved it all. The football was a real highlight. Cheers and lots of laughs. The home team had many advantages… a 30-40 year age gap, local conditions (35°c and 5,000 ft above sea level) and home support.
We lost, but made some new friends. Plus we had as much fun as the kids.
On Sunday morning many of the supporters club had started painting a classroom at Tengeru Primary School – a wee project passed our way by the local Rotarians. Monday morning was set aside to finish the job. I’d run out of energy by this time (blame the mountain and the football) so I just went along for supervisory purposes.
But that was fun too – seeing a rural Tanzanian primary school in action on a Monday morning. The pupils were fascinated by this alien activity undertaken by sweaty middle aged white folks. I’m told many of them would not have seen paint before (that’s the kids – not the white folks).
After lunch it was back on the road – this time Pantandi Teachers College. We’ve helped to set up a resource centre for students learning how to teach blind children. It was good to meet the principal, and the teacher who’s in charge of the centre. They’ve gone from nothing, to being able to produce their own talking books and teaching materials in braille.
A busy schedule over just 3 days, but very rewarding.
© iain taylor 2012