Give a Gift to Tanzania

Sue and Tony Pace regularly spend 3 months working in Tanzania.  During the visit, they regularly send 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.

2007 Visit

2008 Visit

The 2009 Visit      (go to page 2)

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Letter No. 2    31/1/2009

Dear All,e have now been here 3 weeks and we have already spent over half of our total money (26 million Tsh – or £14,000 to you).  The rate we are getting through money is almost terrifying. The classrooms that they had started last year now have a roof and we are just waiting for the one room we are completing to dry so that it can be painted and then it will be finished – when Sue has glazed it!!.  At the same time the new double classroom block is going up very fast and the roof should go on this weekend.

All this building has demanded a huge amount of water and towards the end of last week we were running out – the big underground tank was dry and the water pipe couldn’t supply it fast enough.  There was a strong sense of deja vue – were we going to have water problems like last year.  But Simon, the school chairman, came up with the idea that we might ask the Chinese engineers who are rebuilding the main road if they could let us have a tanker (10,000 litres) of water.  They were happy to help and simply diverted their next tanker to come to the school so we are very grateful and now are great fans of the Chinese.

Since then the weather has been quite changeable and we have had a couple of big storms. The rain captured from the school roofs has also been added so that the tank is over half full – crisis over!  It is pleasing to see that the underground tank works so well.

We are still pursuing electricity.  At the beginning of last week Tony went to see the District Executive Officer (one of the most powerful people in the local government) and he said it was quite wrong that the school should be asked to pay for a transformer and he would talk to the Regional Manager of Tanesco.  Then he joined the local community leaders when they presented their letter to Tanesco. This week Tanesco engineers came to look at the school again and we are awaiting their decision.  In the meantime we have also been investigating the cost of Solar power; there are more than a dozen suppliers and installers locally but it is very expensive. 

Another reason we have been getting through money very fast is that we have ordered 100 new desk and chair sets at about  £33 a set.  Most have already been delivered and paid for.  You can see them in the attached picture just before they were distributed to the classes.  Another “non-building” project is to buy a lot of syllabus books but they are still preparing the list of what they want.

Last weekend we had our first safari.  On the Friday we went to visit Mama Laizer who we have worked with over the last 3 years.  She is now a head mistress of a big secondary school about 50Km to the east of Arusha.  We were very impressed with her school.  On Saturday we went to see Einoth, a student we have sponsored for the last 4 years, in her government boarding school in the Pare Mountains.  She is just about to take her 6 form exams which will determine if she can go to university or not (you can see us all in the attached picture).  The School was impressive and the Pare Mountains are very beautiful – sort of a combination of Switzerland and Crete.  There are many many secondary schools in that area because the climate is so comfortable.  On Sunday we had a quick visit to where we started our walk up Kilimanjaro 10 years ago and then we had a day tour round Arusha National Park which was good fun.

Monday brought our “Banking Crisis” – it seems we have to have one every year.  Tony went to town and found our bank cards no longer worked at the ATMs.  A visit to the emails found a message from the bank saying “call us” but the number they gave was invalid.  As we have given them our local mobile number, why couldn’t they call us instead of just shutting us down?  There was a fraught 2 hours of telephone calls and emails but it is all resolved satisfactorily – we hope!!! We think the cause of the crisis was our attempting to send money to Kenya for a pump for the clinic water supply that Sue was working on.  We eventually got the money transferred this Thursday/

Sue has been glazing both at school and for our home-stay and giving out lots of knitted glove puppets to the local kids.  On her first Sunday here she was welcomed back into the choir of Arusha Cathedral and this year she is singing rather than playing the organ

We are both well (even Sue’s back is behaving!) and as you read this we should be enjoying our first weekend at one of the best hotels in Arusha – again they have offered us a great rate.

Our Love and best Wishes to you all

Tony and Sue

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Letter no. 1   17th January 2009

Dear All,  

By the time you read this we will be back together again.  Sue has had a week in Western Kenya and Tony has been alone in Tanzania .  The flight to Nairobi and overnight stay were fine but it was after we got back to Nairobi airport the next day that the delays started.  Sue’s flight was delayed by 90 minutes so she eventually got to Bungoma very late. Tony’s shuttle bus to Arusha was delayed by an hour and then the journey was pretty terrible because they are rebuilding the road along its whole length so that great stretches are on temporary dirt track.  Sue had to do the same journey the following Friday.  We are contemplating flying back from Arusha to Nairobi on the way home so as to avoid that road.  

Tony had a restful couple of days in Arusha and then went up to Ngamatoni and our regular homestay to be greeted like a lost son.  On Monday he went to school and things have been hectic ever since.  They had a big brainstorming session in the morning to decide what to do and it all started that afternoon.  The first project is to complete two classrooms that the community and the government had stated since we left last year. We also plan to build another double classroom giving them 8 in all and that started on the Wednesday.  They are also putting some finishing touches to the teacher house we built last year.  So three projects started immediately and money going out like the tide at Blackpool .  

It is clear that the big problem this year is going to be electricity.  The school have a quote from Tanesco, the nationalised supply company for 7 million shillings (£3,700) to connect the school and , in addition the school is expected to buy the required mains transformer (over £5,000).  We have been to see them and explain that this is absolutely impossible.  Their advice was that the school should write asking For Tanseco to do this at their own cost as it would benefit not just the school but the whole community.  Since then all the local leaders have worked hard preparing the letter and marshalling support from other leaders and the local MP.  For them to do this is a big deal as this is a very authoritarian and structured society.  We hope they will be successful.  Otherwise we may consider solar power (very expensive) or even a generator (cheap but hardly eco friendly).  

The weather this week has been very hot and dry so there is a lot of dust,  Around the school it is exposed and prone to mini dust storms which can be quite uncomfortable. But on Thursday there was a brief rain.  On Friday a huge storm would should keep the dust down for some days.  

Sue spent a week staying with Reuben the priest who stayed with us last summer-a more comfortable house than the Bishops where we stayed last time we were in Kenya! He has a car and drove me to the clinic (which Bugbrooke church is linked to) as they had asked for more money for “lab reagents”. I found that the foundations we had seen 4 years ago were now a completed 5 roomed building being run by a very efficient nurse. She diagnoses, gives IV drugs and dispenses without any doctor, and has an untrained assistant who is also very good. One room is divided into 3 by sheets hung on rope, so they can treat 3 people at a time. A large well equipped store room is attached. Another room is for HIV counselling and the 3rd unequipped room they call the maternity room-again unequipped. Both rooms had very dangerous piles of rubble to climb to get into! They have had a grant for a nurses house, but the money ran out before it was completed. At the moment they pay rent for the nurse to live in the area.  

When I discovered that the nearest water pipe was 1/2hour walk away and they sometimes had to pay people to fetch it for the clinic, I could easily see where the priorities were!! I immediately ordered steps (health and safety!) and a borehole for clean water. The next day the steps were done and they’d started digging the hole for water! I don’t envy the men digging 40ft in stony ground in that heat! I also said we’d send money to complete the nurses house, but would not send money for the clinic until they have electricity connected- something we thought we’d paid for 2 years ago. I think they were happy although I hadn’t done what they originally planned. I did buy a few essentials for the nurse (like scissors) and Reuben will monitor for me and report on progress.  

I spent most afternoons sitting in Reuben’s lovely garden surrounded by chickens ,turkeys, guinea fowl and a calf to cut the grass! We ate chicken or fish every night( the chicken having been put in a cage for 24hrs. before slaughter presumably to get rid of toxins?)Reuben’s wife and children were delightful and I was well looked after, but it’s good to be back in Tanzania with Tony! Glazing next week.


Best Wishes to you all



Go to Page 2 of 'Paces in Tanzania'