Habari za siku nyingi?

Habari za siku nyingi? How are you since I last saw you?
From afar we DO know that Canada is buzzing from its surprising election results.  That suspenseful night I was glued to CBC online until 4:30 a.m. in Dar es Salaam. Ten days later, long lines of Tanzanians in their bold lively patterns and bright colours walked to the polls to elect MPs and a new President.  It was very tense as people were unsure if unrest was on the horizon.  There was a heavy presence of the army in the towns.  Pockets of noisy demonstrations, tear gas on Zanzibar and a few ballot box irregularities leading up to the announcements of the successful candidates occurred.  The “ruling party” CCM prevailed.
Daily life in the highlands of Tanzania’s Mufindi District is a bumpy road with its peaks, valleys and places in between.  The vignettes we observe or experience encompass a wide spectrum, often leaving these two Canadian bibis  (grandmothers) full of wonder, culturally puzzled, delightfully surprised and well, sometimes emotionally drained.  From feelings of joy and hope when young people, families and orphaned babies have overcome what seems like insurmountable obstacles and are now thriving, to incidents bringing gentle smiles or squeals of laughter and to scenes of utter despair.
In order to save you from ‘reader fatigue’, I’m going to bite off the peaks, valleys and places in between in chunks.  Best to begin on a high note!
Shortly after arriving we were invited to a very special celebration.  Datrai (Dah try) from the NGO’sChildren’s Village (orphanage) ) was graduating near the top of her Form 4 (Grade 12) class – a milestone for the Children’s Village.  With Datrai taking centre stage, her many supporters from the NGO, encircled her and began clapping, cheering, dancing in front of a large audience.  We were all there to stand in for a family she didn’t have.  Datrai’s father died when she was young and her mother was HIV+ and very ill.  Ever since she arrived at the Children’s Village 6 years ago she’s been a shining star, grabbing every opportunity given to her.  This 18 year old wants to be a nurse or doctor when she grows up “in order to help people.”   Her unwavering desire to further her education will require the kindness and continued support of others.
Fraida, a 25 year old beacon of light, has recently completed her 2 years of teacher training at the top of her class.  Five years ago she was in the depths of despair, as like so many in Mufindi District she had failed Form 4.   She needed this ticket to move forward.  Determination, hard work and a focused eye on her goal drove her to excel and to become a leader amongst her peers.  The NGO family assisted her through the many hoops she had to get through. 
This lovely young woman radiating happiness and beauty came to visit us recently to relay a message of asante sana (thank you very much) to friends at home who have paid all her college tuition fees.  Fraida recently got married.  Although her parents had passed away, she insisted her husband pay a bride price to her relatives as a symbolic gesture.  One cow was the price.  To us Fraida is worth the largest herd in Tanzania!
Ruth and I have come to know many young women and men who have overcome unimaginable challenges and are launching themselves into promising careers.
These determined hard working young people believed “that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it. “
More later.
Tembaya salama – Walk in Peace,