Sue and Tony Pace regularly spend 3 months working in Tanzania. During the visit, they regularly sent e-mail letters to their friends. These make a wonderful story, and with their permission we are able to print them here with the accompanying photographs. They are printed in chronological order.
The 2007 Visit
Letter no. 1 13th January 2007
According to our daily diary we have now been here 9 days and we are really feeling very at home. On the way out KLM managed to leave one bag in Amsterdam but it caught up with us the next day. We had two days serious chill-out (we were very tired) for two days with pools and bar!. We met the other Mondo Challenge vollies, including three “older ones”, nearer our age. Apparently there are lots more coming out in the next few weeks. On Sunday Sue was welcomed back to the Arusha Cathedral Choir!
We moved up to our homestay on Sunday afternoon and it really did feel like coming home – so many greetings and hugs and now we are well settled in our 10ft x 8ft room. Soon after we arrived we mentioned the idea of a power point in our room (for my old laptop) and it was done that evening – amazing.
Up to School on Monday and since then it has been hectic. The urgent task was to get more floors laid as 225 new pupil will start next Monday. That project was estimated, agreed and underway by that afternoon and it is truly amazing to watch these people work with such simple tools and in this heat – whatever else they may be, they are not lazy – and we are paying them £1.50 - £2.00 per day! There is also a government funded project going on to complete three more classrooms. Looking at the quality of some of the finish, we have made it very clear to them that they will not be paid on our projects if they finish like that. They have taken it to heart immediately and we can already see the difference. But we are going to have to use some little part of our funds (really your funds – thank you all) to correcting previous work done badly.
The next job was to get the priorities sorted out and these have changed even since my brief visit in June. The water supply (1 tap) has collapsed to a dribble for 600 children and that is now the priority. Also they have lost the kitchen (collapsed). We are putting pressure on Tanseco to deliver the electricity we paid for 5 months ago – that is probably going to be a running saga. Then the priority is to get teachers houses because that is the only way you can get teachers to work at the school. Many have been half finished for several years. We are having the workmen (fundi) running around all over the place getting us estimates and we hope to launch at least two more construction projects next week.
In the meantime, Sue has got her paint brush out and has started to paint the inside of some of the near completed teachers houses. The question is, can they build fast enough to keep her busy?!
There have been some noticeable changes since we were here before. It is much greener because they have had a lot of rain. We have had two fantastic downpours this week. Tony got stuck in Arusha and couldn’t get back during one of them. Somehow Sue managed to get stuck in a bar!!! The temperature typically reaches the high 20’s by mid day (cool by Sri Lanka standards) and at night it doesn’t drop below 15 so we only need a sheet over us.
For those of you in the Northern hemisphere, have a good winter.
Love to all
Tony & Sue
PS - anyone out there got influence or can get us 2.5Km of power cable we/you have already paid for? Tanesco say none in entire country??? We may call on you all to create pressure but more next week!!!
Letter no. 2 28th January 2007
No sooner had we e-mailed our first letter to you than we had our first crisis. Our UK bank, fearing our
cards stolen, shut down our bank accounts so we couldn’t get any money either for us or the school
projects. After a lot of stress and rushing around –and a £20 telephone bill – we got it sorted.
Basically a case of the left hand not knowing, etc… Why did we bother to notify them in the first place.
We have lodged a formal complaint and will see what happens.
The next big project we have started is a new school kitchen. This is supposed to be funded by the parents but it will take a long time to collect the money that way and in the meantime the children have no food so we got on with it. We hope to get some of the money back for our projects – or more realistically have some influence on how they spend the money. The new kitchen should be finished by the end of next week along with a new water supply and 5000 litres of storage so it is all looking good.
We have also finished and handed over 2 classrooms this week. This is mainly down to Sue’s efforts as a
painter as Tony spends most of his time project managing. She hopes to finish 2 or 3 more next week.
So overall we have been getting through money very fast but now we must slow down a bit as we just can’t
pull money fast enough from the UK – unless we pay horrible costs.
The electricity saga continues. The latest story is that they will get a drum of cable to Arusha over this
weekend – though we were previously told there was no cable in the country – we shall see!!! We keep
ringing them regularly to ensure they don’t forget us and apparently the Regional manager is terrified that
Tony may visit his office again.
There are other smaller projects as well; we are paying for digging of a long-drop hole to 30 feet – at £1 per foot. As of Friday morning they had got to 24 feet. This will be for the toilet for 4 teachers houses. We have also paid an artist to paint a map of Tanzania on one of the school walls; we hope to commission further wall paintings later.
One of the greatest changes in the school is the new headmaster. I think many of you may know that Tony what not impressed by the one that was here before and many of the problems are down to the old regime. But the new one is great. He has been transferred from a Special School – in Tanzania that means a school for bright kids – and he has real ambitions and is a real leader. He hopes to make Kimnyak into a Special School in three years and I think he will do it. Enough about work. We are both very well now though over the last two weekends we each in turn had a brief bout of something that knocked us back for 12 hours. Four new volunteers arrived and there are now eight of us within just a few hundred yards of each other in Ngaramtoni (see picture of Tuesday at local bar). One, approximately our age, is doing what Tony did 2 years ago and teaching Maths and Physics at Kimnyak so there is a certain sense of déjà vu.
We still crash out at the weekends in a hotel in town (well, we have to go in to get money and do e-mails so we may as well stay!!!) and Sue has now become a choir member and sometime organist at the cathedral (an English looking church about a quarter the size of Bugbrooke’s). This week end we hope to start planning a safari for sometime next month.
When you only have one tap in the yard with a variable supply of water you learn to be very frugal! One day
last week , when Sue had sanded a classroom, she came home and washed her hair in a small bucket of cold water. As Tony’s hat needed washing, that went in the soapy water next, followed by Sue’s sandals and feet. Think about us next time you turn the tap on!!
That’s it for now; weather has been largely fine but we have just had a huge storm followed by the return
to sunshine. We hear reports of snow in Europe but don’t like to think about it.
Love to all
Tony & Sue
Letter no. 3 9th February 2007
Yes, it’s us again.
It seems to have been calmer over the last two weeks and this is partly because we couldn’t sustain the
early rate of projects –even the fundi (the local skilled workmen) were fed up with it. But even so
there has been much progress. The water supply is now in but, as the villagers still come in to take water, it has not taken long for the first tap to be broken; We must fix up a separate water tap for them outside the school. The kitchen is very nearly finished (there have been a lot of days with no work for no apparent reason) and there is a lot of progress on a first teacher house (for 4 bachelor teachers) though their kitchen, toilet and shower will be built over the next two weeks.
The electricity saga continues and may (he said cautiously!) be approaching success. We were first promised that they would start last Monday but nothing happened so Tony went to their office to discover the Regional Engineer (a new one) knew nothing about it. It was all very disappointing but by Wednesday it was all sorted and they started; but then on Thursday nothing happened but our enquiries revealed that they were loading supplies (just how long does it take to load 8 poles and some cable?). We also learned that part of the reason for all the delay is that the school file had been put with those who had not paid. Tanesco really is the most appalling company to work with and we suspect that it is a significant influence on Tanzania’s continued poverty. We hear lots of complaints about it on the news. When electricity finally arrives, Tony is going to have to spend some time each day teaching staff to use computers. Sue is still very busy painting classrooms (5 now completed) and teacher houses and has also started to develop plans for growing vegetables for the kitchen to use. Tony’s current task, the relaxation after project managing and fixing the daily round of minor problems, is to putty in 50 panes of glass in the teachers house.
The weather over the last two weeks has been very strange, particularly as this is the dry season. A week ago we had several very grey days with major downpours each day. But the sun has returned again over the past few days even though we still seem to get a little rain each day. Apparently one result of this wet weather is that the grass in the Serengeti is very long and hides the animals but we are going on safari next week anyway with two other local vollies of about our age.
One very minor crisis – after the traditional Tuesday beers last week we were walking home and decided to try the local barbeque maize; very tasty but also very hard and the result was two lost fillings (one from each of us). Anyway a week later we went to the dentist (in the hospital where Sue worked two years ago) and had excellent but slow treatment for an hour and a half at a total cost of £14. The NHS could learn a thing or two!
We continue to be in Arusha at the weekends and this time we are staying at the newest and poshest hotel, the Kibo Palace; The Impala, our favourite hotel which is half the cost but has great food, is full this weekend so we thought we would try the posh one!! Sue’s cathedral organ duties seem to be increasing and she is determined to move them on from the Victorian
English Hymn Book (really old fashioned) to Mission Praise. We await the result! We remain fit and well – and losing some weight; the work added to walking for at least an hour every day certainly seems to have an effect.
We love getting your news each weekend when we can visit the internet cafes so thank you all for your messages.
Love to all
Sue and Tony
PS yesterday evening the bank rang to say sorry for cutting us off and to say they will give us 50GBP as an apology. Hardly generous but acceptable!