Community Outreach: #3 Visiting the elderly and disabled . November. 2011

The end of the school year was fast approaching and the Education For Life team (EFLT: Counsellor Pauline, Naomi, Headmistress Salome, Polly and I) were keen to have the girls organise another Community Outreach activity before the completion of semester. Naomi was keen for us to visit the Elderly community in Kichangani and making contact with them to confirm our visit, we then began our preparations. 
Having completed their National Exams, the Form 2 girls were asked to run the day. The girls were excited at the opportunity to give companionship and share their time with such a needy group in their community. They planned to take food and soda and prepare a meal for the elderly and disabled who live at, or attend Kichangani Funga Funga Home. 

Wednesday 16 November, Pauline, Naomi and the Form 2 girls traveled to the soko (market) in Morogoro town where they divided into groups and were given the money for which they had carefully budgeted based on their chosen menu: Pilau, vegetables and oranges..all to be washed down with a bottle of soda.  Each group set about buying their particular ingredients.....nyama (meat), mchele (rice), mboga (many vegetables), chungwa (oranges), soda.....returning, happy and keen to move on to their destination.

Jessie, Lydia and I had run our usual Wednesday morning swimming with the Pre Formals which saw our arrival after the girls had shopped and begun their cooking tasks. Fortunately we chose to travel with Mudi by taxi because I wasn't sure of exactly how to get there.....On reflection.....I would never have found my way on foot!! Even though Mudi knows Morogoro well we still managed to 'do a Fran and... arrive via the scenic route'....I have been here for nearly 16 months now and am still discovering new and exciting 'nooks and crannies' amongst the local communities!
The girls had organised themselves into working groups. One group responsible for preparing / cooking / serving / cleaning up  etc....whichever group wasn't active spent their time talking, helping, sharing stories, singing and dancing with the residents.

Being shown the nyama slowly cooking over the meager coals.

 Lydia and Naomi chatting with some of the girls.

Pauline and the girls chilling.
Pilau under way!
Some of us chatting about the day and relaxing.
The music had begun and the girls began to dance.
...whilst many chatted...
....others were delighted to just observe and soak in the beauty of what was happening around them...
....mmmmmmm... some of us tried to dance....obviously my style is not quite the same as theirs but caused great laughter, clapping and many, many smiles!

Little Anna was so happy to be able to dance with our girls. They welcomed her easily and enjoyed her individual style.
....then we met Matthew.
Matthew (not his Tz name because I couldn't pronounce it... so he said I could call him by his English name!) has been blind since birth. He had a wicked, fun loving personality and laughed happily with the girls even though his life story is very sad. During his education he learned to speak English and both he and I were happy to be able to converse in English. He shared his story then went unaided, much to the amazement of the girls, to his room and brought us his treasured book. It is in Braille.
At this stage of his story telling he had gathered a large group of girls around him so I quietly slipped away from the inner circle and let the girls take the lead in discovering more. They were intrigued and asked many questions about how he learned to read and what life was like as a blind person. He patiently answered in Kiswahili then in English for my benefit. He took the girls fingers and guided them along the bumps on the page. A first experience of using Braille for all of them I'm sure!

This was a very special moment for me and almost brought me to tears to be able to feel the love and respect coming from our girls for this amazing old, forgotten gentleman.

Pumping the well for water. 

Pure bliss to have visitors!
The cooking team bringing the kula (food) to serve.

The serving team ensuring that everyone gets plenty to eat. 

These young boys were anxiously waiting ...hoping they weren't going to miss out. Food was being served at the same time the local school was finishing. The smells and excitement brought the youngster from everywhere in hope of receiving some too! Mama Simba shooed them all away and said that she never ever sees them anywhere near The Home. If she did she would set them to work! (That's probably the reason why they don't come near!!)

The girls were always alert and ready to assist in whatever way they could.

Enjoying the rewards of their labors!
Pauline with Mama Simba who runs the Home. 

Some of the gang.
ALL of the gang!....ALL sooo happy to be sharing.

The residents were very moved by the generosity and kindness shown to them and pleaded with us to return. 

In the classroom where the younger children are sometimes given lessons. 

Being shown around Funga Funga. We are overlooking the large bustani mboga (vegetable garden) only some of which is tended by the Home.
In this picture Matthew is asking me to promise to bring the girls back to visit them! 
Their lives are never interrupted. Nothing ever changes. They seldom have visitors. Variety in food doesn't happen. Soda just doesn't exist. Life is very quiet and uneventful. The outside world is somewhere else...a place they have nearly forgotten.

Our visit to Funga Funga was an emotional one... our girls will never forget which I will never forget I  am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share with our girls. Girls who are so needy themselves but have so much to give.

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