Plunge into the vortex! There have been tornado of experienceswhirling since our Cessna 206 landed on the grass strip of Mgawzi inthe centre of the tea plantations.
Atili picked us up in our new second hand car and we lurched over thedusty red road moguls on our way back to Foxes Highland Farm. It is dry season and people are burning to clear maize fields for plantingwhen the rains come. We see the yellow- green fields of tea plantsflooded with tea pickers hand harvesting the tea, two leaves and a budinto the enormous baskets on their backs. Mainly women in colourfulkangas, a few with babes on the front pick all day for about $1.00.There are no visible paths and they toil through the tough scratchyplants silently collecting the crop.
Arriving at the volunteer quarters we lept out greeting Upendo and herlittle son Stevoo with enormous hugs and greetings. After a suitabletime, (we could hardly wait) we sat Upendo down one on either side ofher and brought forth the Canadian living magazine. She stared withwonder at the advertisements of the glamorous and obviously wealthyCanadian settings and then we came to page 19! When she saw herself inthe photo with the peanut butter cookies her hands flew to cover herface in amazement. This year she is creating magic in the kitchenwithout a fridge and pots without handles!
Jenny, manageress of the NGO came to collect us in the morning to workat the CTC Mdbulo HIV/Aids clinic. It houses our precious CD4 machineand over 100 patients were coming. Seated in rows in an almost churchlike solemnity people approached the all important file containers ina snakelike fashion moving from row to row. Anne was seconded here.Holding their precious often tattered registration cards Moms andbabies, Babus and Bibis, men and children waited while a search forTHE file was conducted. Anne was juggling three metal boxes of filestrying to find and order each file. Down the hall I sat beside twogentlemen, one was Tanzanian and knew all the procedures. The otherwas the oldest Peace Corps and thinest gentleman that I have had theprivilege to meet. He has been working in the village as physics andscience teacher for two years. He explained that his wife has remainedin the USA because the only country she likes to visit is Italy!
There was no time for further talk . Vital information to be recordedon the files could be life altering. It had to be accurate. The smallslips of paper resembling Safeway grocery bills were stapled to forms.The numbers represented life and death sentences! A healthy personhas a white cell count of between 800 and 1,000. I recorded numbersof 234, 198 and even tragically the horrifying score of 9!!
Leaving the clinic after the last patient had left we walked over tothe main hospital still under construction. Here the whirling tornadoof the HIV/Aids pandemic sucked us into the vortex of tragedy. A youngboy, Klaine 13 years old was lying unresponsive on a plastic tarpwrapped in a blanket. His feet protruded. Here in Tanzania I havebecome an observer of feet. I saw crushed toenails, cuts and cracksand signs of chiggers under the nails. Klain's parents had died ofAids many years ago. His Aunt and Uncle were there. We were asked toparticipate in prayer. Dr. Leena told us that he needed to go home topass. Jenny in tears and in a rage went to beg the resident doctor fora miracle. Klaine had been on the same medication, ARV's too long. Athome the cocktail would be changed. Sadly and the power of povertywins here and a young boy was being sent home to a mud hut to die.Time for the internet has passed and I finish on this sad sad news.
Fresh news soon.