Barclay Viewforth Church congregation on Blackford Hill

BVC Tanzania Team – Days 4 & 5

Team at work

New Building Projects

Tuesday started with the postponed visit to the TAWREF office for a presentation about the work they are doing. The Tanzanian Women’s Research Foundation does much in the way of research in relation to children, trauma (caused by the death of relatives), and supporting families with HIV/AIDS, among other things. Some of this work they do in collaboration with countries with similar problems e.g. India, Kenya, Addis Ababa.

After the presentation the team divided into two smaller groups to head out to 2 new building projects.One team headed to what we’ll call the “Banana House” and the other to “Maize House.” The reason for these unusual names is that we were actually going to build these homes in fields and had to first chop down the respective plants to do so. The Banana Team spent the day preparing the site next to Mama Kabisha’s current home and digging the foundations. When they weren’t doing that there were plenty of local children to be entertained with games and activities.

Mama Kabisha lives in her current house with children and grandchildren. The home was constructed of sticks, mud, banana leaves, with many gaping holes exposing the family to the elements. What was surprising is that she lives in what the locals would call a ‘wealthy area’. Most of the neighbours have done nothing to help her so TAWREF decided that the family would benefit from having a new house to live in. Thought of the bible passage, “…and who is my neighbour?” came to mind on hearing this.

Meanwhile the Maize House team, having walked through the maize field, were amazed (sorry about the pun) to discover that they were standing where the future house would be. Working together with some of the local people and the fundi (builders) the area was soon cleared….but then we had to start weeding and removing the maize roots from the ground. Eventually the area was cleared sufficiently for the builders to set out the markings for the foundations. Pick axes and shovels were manned as the work of foundation digging began. By this point the sun was beating down on us and frequent water breaks were required. We had also attracted an audience of local children. They were soon amused by the packs of bubbles one of the team produced from a bag.

Eventually it was time for us to down tools for the day. We were unable to learn the story of the recipient of this house due to a language barrier (but will hopefully fill you in over the next few days.)

The evening saw the team host a ceilidh night for the TAWREF staff and the students and teachers from Hamilton College who were on a school work party trip. This was also an opportunity to share stories and highlights about the work done, and the fun had, and for the experienced BVC team members to sure why they continue to come out to Tanzania. Interestingly the head teacher of the school used to attend Barclay Church as a student in the 1970’s (her name is Margaret Park if anyone can remember her). As well as dinner and traditional Scottish dancing we also were entertained and then participated in an African dance, led by the TAWREF staff.

A good day all in all and a night to thank God for the many blessings he has given us.

The following day (Day 5 – Wednesday) saw the teams change sites to share the experience. Some of the team members from both sites had become ‘possessive’ about their site so it was with reluctance that they set off to their new sites. As with all these things people appreciated the swap and the new experiences. Both teams spent the day moving rocks and buckets of rocks, as well as water – these were necessary for the foundations. Some of this work is quite demanding and the team member have been really good at looking out for each other.

One of the amazing things about doing this work is the willingness of the family who are being helped to take part in the work.

We learned something about the family who will occupy the Maize House – Mama Oliver’s husband died in 2010, leaving her destitute and with 5 children (aged 20 years to 9 years) to care for. She had to move in with her in-laws and unfortunately they do not get on very well, with the family often being thrown out onto the street. They are usually taken back again but the whole situation is detrimental to the health of the family. We know that TAWREF would only recommend really deserving cases to Vine Trust so it’s good to know that we can do something to help this family.

At the end of the afternoon the team rendezvoused at the TAWREF Charity Shop to buy a few gifts before heading home for hot showers (well….nearly hot!) Our dinner that evening took place at the Kili Coffee Lounge, where we were treated to an African Evening, with food, song and dance. We were joined by the Hamilton College team again and later in the evening everyone took part in the African Dance. It was also great to catch up with our friend Gilly (who has been to BVC to speak) and his new wife, Mary. At the end of the evening we said farewell to the Hamilton Team, who were heading out on safari next morning, before heading  home on Saturday.

Our devotions for the day looked at the Wise and Foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). Given the building work we are doing this week it’s not surprising that we included this well known story in our devotions. At first glance it doesn’t mention teamwork but if you look more closely it is there….it’s the teamwork we have with God. As a house is required to be built on firm foundations in order for it to survive the storms of life then so our relationship with God.

Hoping your foundations are strong.

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