Journey's From The Heart

Peace at Palla

I drove from Moshi town to Kishumundu village last Friday, to attend the steering committee’s meeting of the Uru East Water Board. The meeting went well, with a review of what has been accomplished in our project and what is still left to be done. With the success of ‘first water’ from the Grandmother Well at Kimocholo, we are deepening into the visionary thinking required to manage the water distribution for long term sustainability. Establishing the legal rights of this Water Board to manage the water, as well as defining clear guidelines for ecologically sound and careful management, are among our immediate goals. Good ground was covered and our next steps planned, including a general meeting with the entire Board on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. (22 people including the governing Ward Councillor and the village chairpersons from Uru East’s 7 villages). Alphonse and I left the meeting satisfied with the progress and headed to his Palla home in Kyaseni village, where I will spend the week. I was ‘warmly welcomed’ (Karibu Sana), by all the friends and family here at Palla. Palla means raspberry in Chagga and it is the name that Alphonse’s home has been called ‘since forever’…. meaning it has been in his family’s hands since tribal times. It was so named because of the abundance of naturally growing berries on the land, but it also reflects the sweet face that this family shows to the world. Land in Tanzania is passed down traditionally from father to son or brother to brother. However, a call for enlightened sharing is underway, so that women in this society may... read more

Prayers on Wheels

In an effort to be more adaptive during this visit and any future visits to Tanzania, I made arrangements to rent a vehicle from a village taxi driver. Having my own car allows me a freedom of movement that cannot happen when one is relying on our hosts to arrange drivers or share rides. That is the theory of course. The challenges to driving here include a steering wheel on the left side of the vehicle, driving on the left side of the road, and no sidewalks… which means all roads carry an abundance of ‘foot traffic’: women carrying huge banana baskets to market, men pulling heavy wooden carts, many small children in school uniforms walking to and from school, and goats, chickens and cows with their own ideas as to who has the rights to the road. There is also very little by way of paved roads. Tarmac exists only in town on the very main thoroughfares. All other roads are packed red dirt with varying depths of potholes, some the size of small craters. The last bit of challenge comes in the form of steep one lane roads up into the villages with dizzying drop-offs at regular intervals. In this place, there can be no automatic moments or day dreaming while driving, that bad habit in America of sometimes not even being aware of how you drove from one place to another, because you have been thinking about so many other things. Driving here requires absolute presence of mind at all times, or you may find yourself face to face with a wayward cow or slipping off... read more

Final thoughts on our journey

I’ve been home for a couple days with time for rest, jet lag acclimation-somewhat-and ponderings of our trip. I am struck by the difference between my first trip to Tanzania and this one. Four years ago, I was sort of in shock when I arrived. I had never been to a third world country and could not stop thinking about the dichotomy of our cultures and lifestyles. We spent the majority of our time in meetings and talking with officials about their water situation, researching various ideas and developing relationships with local village and government leaders. When I returned home, I was tired to the bones, and deeply saddened by the vast differences in our everyday living – clean running water to drink, shower and cook with, ovens to bake in, electricity that always works, and all those amenities that we take for granted. It was a difficult trip that I could barely talk about to friends; my eyes had been opened and I would never be the same person. This time, I returned home in a different state of mind. Yes, there is still extreme separation of the “have and have nots” by our definition of success and material possessions, but I now see clearly what they do have. A deep sense of community tied by their long standing culture and the close physicality in which they live on the mountain, a moral obligation to take care of each other and one another’s children no matter the work or the cost, an understanding of how to get things done together, a strong grasp and belief in God, and... read more

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