Published: August 1st 2012July 6th 2012
My daladala to Kesesa takes about 30 minutes and is about as comfortable as any Toyota Hiace could be when full with 25 people, luggage and livestock.
The village is set either side of the main highway, one side has an open bar and lots of small ram-shackled shops selling bread and other conveniences and the other side is... well pretty much the same but with some more specialist shops such as the one selling and fixing electronics - the sort of electronics we had at home in the early 90's, remember those video tape players? The big black and white canon printers.. and those clunky CRT monitors? You get the idea.
Upon arrival, as with all other towns I am greeted by motorbikes "Mzungu, you want picky pick?", "Where you go Mzungu?". I mention that I'm waiting for my friend Amanda and immediately they all know... "Amanda Mzungu?! Shes my friend!". I wait and chat with them for a while until I see Amanda walking down the road and walk on to greet her.
We walk behind a row of shops to a crowded and cramped market - my bag and I negotiate through the crowd and
tight aisles whilst Amanda searched and bartered for vegetables for dinner. EVERYBODY in the village seems to know Amanda the local Mzungu! When finished we crossed the road and walked behind the other shops into a remote housing area, with Amanda greeting most passers-by in Swahili with "Mambo vippi!" or "Shikamoo" to elders, and often stopping for a chat. The houses are scattered and built to no uniform standard. They all have tin roofs and either mud or brick walls. Amandas house has electricity but no running water however, for a small fee they get buckets from a neighbour for washing, drinking and cooking.
As well as three other housemates, I meet Tom from London - who is here for 1 month as a volunteer. I feel bad when I realise the house is full, but she insists "we have a masela
policy in the house", which is a Swahili word basically meaning "everyone's welcome"! More so, I discover that she has given up her bed for me, and will not let me sleep on the floor.
The three of us ventured out to the local Sukuma Tribe Museum to learn a bit more about local culture and
history. It was fascinating to see traditional drums from many centuries ago being kept and often still used for important ceremonies. I also found it interesting that like elsewhere in Tanzania Christianity had found its way to remote areas, however, they had adapted the religion to suit local traditions - even having a different image of Christ, and an adapted style of Church (see pics!). We also learnt about traditional Sukuma housing, tools for survival and traditional foods/medicines.
After lunch, we head to a field where I am told local kids will meet us to play football. A few are already about and run up to us in excitement grabbing the balls from us and kicking them around. Shortly later more kids turn up, mostly they have no shoes and some are wearing very worn out and ripped clothing. They are all very happy and excited to be gathering for the big game! Tom had the idea of splitting them into 4 teams and having a mini-tournament, they were very obedient and gathered without a fuss to be divided into teams. We had about 20 kids in the end and 2 matches going at once. Tom and Amanda each
ref'd a game whilst I watched and grabbed some pictures.
In the background I could hear Sukuma tribal drums in practice for a competition tomorrow. This, along with the birds of prey soaring above, and the kids loving their football really set an amazing scene - an experience I will never forget.
Some of these kids are great players, and with the right support and coaching I'm sure they could go far - it is apparent that opportunities we may take for granted at home really are non-existent for these kids. Fortunately we have people like Amanda and Tom spending their own time and efforts to at least make a little difference to their lives.
I notice some younger kids kicking a ball around (well its kind of a ball - more like a bunch of newspapers squashed and shaped like a ball with elastic bands) and I decided to start kicking our rugby ball high in the air for them to catch. They were loving it and were al laughing out loud that this strange lanky white person had started kicking a funny shaped ball at them! I gathered them together and by pointing and using
very basic Swahili eventually split them into teams for a match. I also decided to play and to their amusement ended up in goal! Needless to say, with me in goal - my team lost 5-1. Still we had a great time and by the end of it the kids were climbing all over me, and laughing and joking in Swahili (probably at my expense). Some adults had also stopped and were standing by bemused!
When all the games had finished, I rejoined the others who gave a coach style debrief and they all agreed to meet at 6am the following morning to maintain and level the field.
Please take the time to see Amandas and her teams great work here: http://growingopportunitiesinternational.blogspot.com/
There are more photos below