Rob's February Report

The monthly message from our president

City of Hereford Rotary Club on tour in Tanzania

Until Paul mentioned it last night, I had not realised that I had failed to send out a newsletter at the beginning of the month. As an excuse I can point out that I was in Tanzania. Now that I’m doing one, it will exceed my normal single page. There are three!

Looking back at January, there is not a lot to report on. We were due to have a talk about Welsh Water, but Lucy Barnett had to pull out, so we were able to get Mary Watkins and her husband to tell us about their exploits in Rwanda. Mary is a great enthusiast and after the meeting we agreed to provide some cash for several projects. £150 to purchase more handicrafts from the Women’s cooperative, £20 to give a disabled student a series of music lessons, £70 to pay for a rugby coach for a month plus £60 for tag belts and first aid equipment. We also provided £200 for the development of a third classroom at Mary’s favourite project – The St Kizitas Nursery school.

At the end of the month, 13 of us visited Tanzania. Attached to this newsletter is a short report that Ruth Hewison has prepared for our village newsletter. This gives a great flavour of the trip. I will add something about the Rotary bits.

Steve Chandler, who many of you will have met when he came and talked about   St Augustine’s Secondary school where he has volunteered for a month for the last ten years, met us at the airport (local Rotary had provided a bus for us) and was with us while we were in Dar es Salaam. On the first day he took us to this school. Sadly, it had run out of money and been closed in November. We did however see the area used for vegetable cultivation which we had sponsored. We visited a nearby home for orphans and the St Augustine’s Primary school run by the energetic head, Alice.

In the evening we had our first introduction to Dar Rotary. A brief meeting, we were delayed by the horrendous traffic, with the Sunset RC. Only chartered a week previously they were mixed ages, gender and nationality. About 30 enthusiastic new Rotarians. This was followed by dinner with the DG, Sharmila and her husband, Harish, a former DG, and a few other Rotarians.

An early start next morning meeting the breakfast Rotary club, RC Dsm. Very friendly and informal lot. Only one member in a suit, the Swiss Ambassador! An established active club. Bobby is seeing whether we can help them with their project to provide ambulances. From there we were met by the President, Guru, of another newly chartered club, RC Mbezi. They took us to a local school where they had sorted a classroom for a nursery. Filled in holes in the floor, carpeted it and repainted, compete with murals. Guru’s husband is Italian so in addition to her tourist business she has a pizza restaurant. She took us there for lunch but laid on a smashing buffet of typical local food. Fish, curries etc.

In the afternoon, Harish and members of the RC of Bahari took us to see the major Dar project supported by all the local clubs. This is the CCBRT hospital providing free healthcare to children and the poor. The clubs are building a new wing to provide high quality private care. Middle class Tanzanians increasingly have health insurance to fund their care. The idea is that the surplus income will be used to increase their ability to help those who can’t pay. The RCs have agreed to raise $600k via a series of global grants.

In the evening we joined the third newly chartered RC, Dar City for their meeting. We also met the President of RC of Oysterbay. They were Dar City’s sponsor club. We had had to turn down their invitation to meet them for breakfast on our first day.

On Thursday the Mikocheni RC took us to visit Kinondoni hospital. Serving 2 million people this was an eye opener. The ladies went round the maternity wards. Bobby reported that about 80 mothers and their children were in a room which in Hereford might house 10. Very cramped and minimal facilities. Lots of things needed but the Directors priority would be to have their own laundry. At present they rely on another hospital and often have no clean linen!

In the evening we were guests of the Bahari RC for dinner. They inducted two new Rotarians. One was legal director of Standard Charter Bank and the other, a Brit, was with the World Bank.  

So, we met 6 clubs and had a good insight into Tanzanian needs. In due course we will bring forward some proposals for support.

Given that February end in a week, there seems little point in prolonging things by looking forward. I’ll do that with the March City News.

Rob                                                                                                         20 Feb 2019

Ruth’s report

– a country of contrasts

Hot, humid, bustling and friendly – that was my first impression of the largest city, Dar Es Salaam, when I arrived with a party of 13 of us from Hereford a few weeks ago.

The Hereford City Rotary Club wanted to explore projects to aid schools and hospitals and also to enjoy the country and have a good holiday.

So the plan was to make project visits in the city for the first few days, then to enjoy 3 days of safari, followed by a relaxing few days on the beaches of Zanzibar.

In the schools, we saw some large and some very large classes, even over 60 in a class. Education is free, but there are also schools at which fees are paid.......... which have smaller classes... maybe only 40!

Sometimes charities sponsor children to attend these schools, and they may be set up by church groups. Hereford Diocese sponsored a school here. All the children wear uniform, whichever type of school they are at. And playtime is the same as here – noisy, cheerful and boisterous!

Children from poor backgrounds often go to school very hungry and have health problems due to lack of adequate hygiene. One of the schools we visited had raised money to provide a porridge breakfast for the pupils, and other useful projects include the provision of fresh water for washing, and teaching children to plant and maintain vegetable plots.

Now by way of immediate contrast, we took a 6 hour coach journey inland to the Mikumi National Park, a huge game reserve. We slept in small bungalows under mosquito nets and ate good food under the stars in our lodge, just outside the Reserve. We went out into the Reserve 3 times in our 2 safari vehicles, an evening outing, a daytime outing with a picnic lunch, and an early morning.

Animals were everywhere... ne need to search, a giraffe will peer at you over a bush and suddenly your eye will spy several more nearby. Elephants will amble in family groups across your vision... A young adolescent elephant in a bad mood trumpeted and stamped, charging ineffectually towards our vehicle then backing off, ignored by his elders, who had probably put him in the corner!

Zebras were 2 a penny, as were impalas. We also saw hippos wallowing in a pool, coming up and opening their huge wide jaws to yawn.

And we saw lions! .....quite close to, and even one lazing high up on the  branch of a tree! An old, perhaps sick lion was being circled by jackals  looking for the main  chance. What a cornucopia of animals!

After many days of intense activity and early mornings, we were pleased to reach the next phase of our holiday. – the fast catamaran to Zanzibar. Now for real relaxation on lovely tropical white sands; a coral reef a few hundred yards away. Lazy days... and we did see the house where Freddie Mercury lived in his childhood! And visited the busy streets and markets of Stone Town. And saw the Old Slave Market site, now built over by an Anglican church. This East African Slave Market was selling slaves to the Arab world, and was the last Slave Market to be closed. But remember there is still modern day slavery all over the world, including this country.

What a wonderful holiday, and what a wonderful country. Much needs to be done there, but the people we met were lovely.                                                                                                         Ruth Hewison