HomeMissionTanzania 2011PostsThree visitors and three stories

Three visitors and three stories

Well it’s been another week in Murgwanza and I have more stories to tell. More computer teaching, more English tutoring, more home schooling and more callers at the door for assistance.


This week, I have been inundated with Form 1 students (ok 4 more) who want to learn English. It is challenging as they are all at different levels. But basically they just want to practise talking in English and expanding their vocabulary. They learn a little English in Primary school but it is always only reading and writing and never speaking. The only words they how know to say are ‘Good morning Madam, how are you?’. This is a common phrase the children call out to us as we walk around Murgwanza. No matter what time of the day and whether they are addressing Rob or myself, it is always the same. So this week I had to deliver some mail and milk and stuff around Murgwanza so Lameck and his mate Ezra walked with me and we talked. Mostly they ask questions about Australia and what it is like there. It is very difficult to explain how very different life is in Australia. They struggle to understand things like every school has many computers. Every family has a car or two, every child goes to school, we don’t grow our own food but go to large supermarkets and buy more than we need!!!!! It is tough…..Anyway I have had to get some control back on the number of students and the frequency and time that they come. Lameck was coming every day at 3:30pm with or without a friend, we would do written exercises for an hour or so then he would want to talk. Sometimes by this time more students had arrived who go to school in Ngara and don’t finish till 4pm then walk back to Murgwanza. So often at 6:30pm I would have 4 students here and my boys were getting tired and hungry. So now I have set timetable for them ALL to come at 5pm for 1 hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. They are welcome to come at other times and chat with the boys or play but I cannot teach every day.

Lego Boys

I am teaching at the nursing school this week - Nervous System lectures. It has been a long time preparing and I fear it is still so hard that they will not take in a lot. Many of the students have such poor English and while I have a little Swahili I cannot teach in Swahili. Also it is supposed to be an English teaching school. I will present my lecture slowly and give some handouts (4 copies between 90 students) the rest is up to them.

Rob has finished his formal computer teaching at the nursing school, which ended up being cut short by power problems. It’s a bit of a challenge to teach computers if there is no power!!! Really it was a blessing from God that the power was off on Thursday as Rob had 4 hours of computer teaching both at the Bible School and the Nursing School but with no power this was cancelled. Rob really needed the break and we took the opportunity of some unexpected time off to head to town with the boys for some kebabs and soda. Rob and I are still doing some evening sessions for the nursing students to have some practical. We have reduced it to 12 students and 7 computers.

I had James and Ephraim working here all week trying to reduce the debts they have with us; unfortunately when the two get together, Ephraim tends to talk more than he works and poor Imani get’s very frustrated. Anyway it was nice to have them around and we had some good chai time discussions. They are in final preparations for their Form 2 National Exams so I have started doing some Biology with them. I have told them I can only do human biology and not plants and kingdoms and classifications. Yesterday we were studying the human heart and blood vessels, next week blood groups and later nutrition. There are some very funny ideas here about what constitutes a balanced diet. Poor James was very shocked when Mitchell told him yesterday that soda was NOT part of a balanced diet!!!

Jake took the opportunity of having Ephraim here as a captive audience to do a bit of evangelising. Ephraim is a Pastors son and probably one of the very few who actually reads his bible at home, but still many here tend to be very verse focussed and not looking at a whole passage or in fact whole book or even the whole bible in context. Jake came inside and told me, ‘dad needs to spend some time with Ephraim and teach him some bible, he has some strange ideas!!!’, I think we have a missionary in the making there.

It was also a good thing that James was here all week as I had many non-English speaking visitors. I could get the general idea that they had a problem and wanted some assistance but to what degree and what exactly was a little sketchy. So my trusty translator James helped me out. One older lady in particular spoke only Kihangaza (the local language here) so with her I was really stuck.

So visitor number one, an older lady who has been before and I have assisted before with some food while she was an inpatient in hospital (you don’t get fed as a patient here, family must supply your food). She explained that she was in hospital with asthma (it was clear she was unwell and had the steroid shakes). She claimed she needed 29,000Tsh to pay her hospital bills and to buy some medicine. Now 29,000Tsh is a lot of money for hospital and medicine so I was a little suspicious and wasn’t prepared to just hand over the money. So I gave her some bread and passionfruit and sent her back to the hospital with James and the money to see what was really required. James returned to report that she didn't need to pay the hospital any money and just needed one vial of antibiotics which we could buy in town for 1000Tsh. So James and I went to town and got the medicine and returned it to the hospital for her midday dose. Worth checking!!

Visitor number two, a young boy aged about 14 I guess with a very sad tale to tell. Again after I listened to the long story in Swahili and got the general idea that Mama had run off and Baba was dead and he had many problems and no food. Again I brought in James to assist. It turned out Tumaini Fund had assisted them with a new house (after their hut had burnt down with all their belongings inside) and had helped get his older sister back to school. They had a small patch of land they could dig but no hoe and no seed and he wanted help with food and small household items. Now we have been burnt before so I asked him to write down his name and the names of his siblings and I would talk to Tumaini and could he return next week. After he left, our neighbours outside help told James he knew the boy and he was indeed in a very bad situation. I went to Tumaini and they confirmed his story and said it would be very good to help this family. At this point I burst into tears…I have become so hardened to people coming and telling their story only to find out that it is not all true and I was so saddened by this boys situation. James and Ephraim later said ‘please Mama Mitchell will you help this boy, his situation is very bad’. So when he returns next week I will give him a hoe and some seed to plant, I think also I will take him to town and buy some other small needs he requires to survive. Cooking pots, bowl, cups, a bucket etc….simple stuff really. I am sure there are many many boys like this, but this one I know and I can help so I will.

Village People

Visitor number 3, another old man who I have often given small amounts of money and food. Last time I gave him money was for seed to plant. I gave him more then he asked because I had no change. It was quite an amount for him and I fear he now thinks he has found a winner. So yesterday when he came he asked for money for seed. I told him I already gave you seed but he said he had eaten it. The problem is seed for beans is beans and seed for maize is maize. So if you give a bag of beans for planting the temptation is to eat them now because you are hungry but if you plant them you get a much larger return……in time. So I said no more money and gave him some food and sent him on his way.

Today George has been here to have some private computer tuition….the beauty of knowing the teacher I guess. I sent my last solar lamp home with Alpha on Thursday for his sister Grace and bought two more bags of t-shirts today to give away. There are soooo many needs here and I won’t bore you with them all, but needless to say we can never fix everything but hopefully the little bits we are doing are making a lasting difference.


Time Difference

The rich get richer, the poor get the picture.~

Midnight Oil
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