Thursday provided a combination of experiences for us. First we drove miles up a rutted dirt road of abject poverty into what really is the base of Kilimanjaro mountain to find the home of one of our teenage students, Alex. We spent over an hour meeting his family and understanding his circumstances. Once again, home consisted of about three 10 X 10 square structures, this time made of loosely assembled wood planks with tin roofs. Inside each were board beds and a bag of clothes. No electricity and light and no running water. What we consider the most rudimentary of living conditions just do not exist for so many here. Still his parents proudly showed us their property covered with banana and mango trees and their cows, chicken coop and gardens. Neighbors and children materialized from everywhere and once again we left with bunches of blessings and bananas, mangos and ….. a chicken we affectionately put into our trunk. She now resides behind our house.
On the way down, we stopped at the local secondary school – 6 permanent teachers for over 400 students. And that’s for starters – no labs, few books, no facilities to speak of… It is no wonder that those without resources desperately try to rustle up a sponsorship to send their child to private school. The state of education in Tanzania is deplorable and until the government institutes real change, sponsorships such as those we are trying to fund are most of the time the only path to a real future.
When we arrived home we could hear kids screaming and so we walked over to the local high school to watch their soccer game in progress. It was such a reprieve to see that in at least some way kids are kids everywhere. No groomed turf, no sleek uniforms and cleats, NO PARENTS, and just one ref in jeans who let the boys play —it was great. At least 200 students yelled and formed impromptu cheering squads, running on and off the field when a goal was scored. After the game they encircled their team in congratulations – even though the game ended in a 3-3 tie. So nice to see young people who could just be carefree for a few hours.