Text message…Amani Disability Centre Awareness Day” Sat 21 May 2pm Can you come?
Grace and Briony two young volunteers from the UK with the same energy and exhuberance Elena and Camilla had, were seeing the fruits of their energies materializing. I had met the two girls at Ricky’s café about 5 months ago. A table of 6 young wazungu, I just had to go over and introduce myself! The other 4 girls were heading further out of Moro but they had only just arrive on a 6 month placement through a UK organization. I had met Grace several times but hadn’t had the chance to visit her at the Centre for the Disaled. Today was my chance!
Daladala drivers had been on strike for the past 3 days so I started to walk into town then realized that I didn’t know how to get to the Amani Center!! I knew which line of daladala to take but I had never been to Chemwino (the area of town) soI didn’t trust my poor sense of direction. As it was nearly 2pm, I caught a taxi! On arriving I was swamped with little people “Shikamoo” coming from each one and all of them trying to secure my hand and lead me inside the decorated hall. I was marched proudly to the front of the hall and expected to sit at the head table. I was a mzungu so I must be important so I must be seated there!! This was what the beautiful children thought. It took a lot of dissuading them to accept my returning and sitting in the fourth row from the front…This was not good in their eyes but it was a compromise which allowed them to sit in the chairs around me. The hall was still empty of spectators. Grace found me and apologized explaining that it was all functioning on Tz time. This is what I expected so wasn’t uncomfortable or worried at all! In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the music and watching the children dance on the stage. During the next hour I witnessed the excitement mount, met new wazungu Vols from in and around Moro, then at 3pm, the event began. A kaleidescope of dance and song from: lively Bongo Flava/ cultural/ song& dance from the children themselves/ Gospel and Choir singing / lively entertainment and an interval providing Chai, home made cakes and mandazi…..
A highlight was definitely the spontaneous inclusion of a young Amani boy into a lively dance ensemble. He proudly copied the routine with a grin from ear to ear. His rhythm was natural and he was totally at ease with every change that occurred. He won everyone’s hearts and people surged to the stage to stuff money in his pocket and encourage his humble, spontaneity and natural skill. He was such a darling, his smile got bigger and bigger…and his pocket bulged. He couldn’t believe what was happening. When the routine ended he happily emptied his pockets and handed all the rewards to his very proud Amani Mama. The applause was deafening!
Working with the disable anywhere in the world is demanding and frustrating but because the stigma is so great in Africa, it is very hard to get public support here. Well done girls for putting these beautiful people so positively in the public eye. Your tireless energy was fruitful.