There is a village out there….
Since we have moved to Tanzania, we had and still have a lot of visitors ( family, friends, friends of friends,etc.) But one of these visitors has done a very special thing for me. She opened up a whole new door to Tanzania and Tanzanian culture for me.
Shortly after we moved to Dar, our friends Jonathan and Ann whom we met in Japan many years ago, gave us a shout out for a sudden visit in early September. They were on an extended summer holiday being in between jobs, tired of traveling in Europe and were in need of a place to crash for a couple of weeks to sort some stuff out. We replied quickly with excitement and here they were a day later and we lived happily for three weeks under one roof, chatting for hours, eating, drinking, giving each other support, basically being friends and family for each other. In the mean time John found a teaching job in Abu Dhabi:) which opened a new door for them.
Why am I telling you how I spent my days with my friends? Here is the reason and the beginning of our story: John and Ann decided a couple of days in Zanzibar before they have left Tanzania. During their trip they met a doctor (Sion) who was on a short vacation from his work in a rural village just outside of Morogoro. They’ve spent quite a good amount of time chatting and listened to his adventures about this little village called Berega. Sion gives his blog address to John and Ann. Listening to him and reading his blog, Ann insists them to spend their last three days in this rural village and they leave that weekend with Sion and a teacher ( Liz) who also works in the village school. After their stay in Berega for three nights, Ann came back with the idea of her coming back to Tanzania and volunteering in the village for a couple of months. Seeing their photos and listening to their experience in Berega, Jamie and I were very interested in the idea of visiting the village.
As she promised, Ann packed her belongings in Shenzen, china ( their previous post), shipped everything to Abu Dhabi, paid a short visit to Korea, went to Abu Dhabi for a couple of days and came back to Tanzania. She directly went to Berega this time and started blogging ( www.anninberega.blogpost.org) .
We started following and forwarding her blog updates and spreading her experiences in this rural village in Tanzania to our friends and contacts online and offline. Everyone with whom I have talked to were very supportive of her volunteering and asking how they could contribute. Ann and I started communicating through the phone and a shared Google Doc where we planted our initial ideas of how we can help this village.
You can find very detailed information about the village, the life and daily rumblings of both Ann, Sion and Liz on their blogs. But to give yo a very brief explanation about the village; it is a medium size village with a hospital and an elementary school. There is no water source in the village other than the hospital wells and people of the village ho to the nearby dried riverbed and dig out water and drink it without sanitizing it…
Since Ann has been in the village, with the money that she raised, she has helped the hospital by commissioning a painter to draw educational murals on the walls of the hospital, designed a webpage for the hospital ( ) and found sponsorship for the children who can not afford to go to the school in the village.
Our first visit to the village took place on Ann’s third week of volunteering. Jamie and I had mentioned the village to our friends in the school and four of them ( Dan, Ruth, Melanie and Karen) decided to join us in our trip to the village. We have borrowed a couple of tents from the school as our shipment was still sitting in Dar port ( another story to tell). With two cars full of teachers and tents, we went on our first road trip in Tanzania. It took us two hours to leave Dar after school on a Friday – a lesson well learned- and five hours to Morogoro. When we got to Morogoro, we were very tired of the night driving and decided to stop at the first hotel on the road side. If you ever get stuck in Morogoro, I would recommend this hotel called ‘ Ark Hotel’ with clean rooms and nice breakfast for a reasonable price.
Next day, early in the morning, we drove around an hour and a half and we were in Berega! Such a lovely village it was! After a quick cup of coffee we went to the school for a day of workshop with the students. The experience of working with kids who love to learn and try to get every little knowledge they can get is priceless. After our trip we got together as a group and shared our experiences and wrote down our reflections.
Please have a look at our reflection here.