Kome life

It felt familiar to be travelling back to Kome the other week. Things are generally less exhausting when they are more familiar, because your brain is having to do less work. Even the odd disaster here and there seemed familiar – this is the moment that the push start was enough to get our front wheels off the ferry, but not enough to get the battery started, leaving us in limbo for a few minutes until someone ran off and got a car battery and a couple of wires to get it going!

Our children were also more settled with the familiarity. On the way there Tabitha asked me whether the local children would call out ‘friend’ or ‘foreigner’ when we got there. We arrived to calls of ‘Tabitha’! She’s not the only one being called though… both our children have adopted this very distinctive way of calling me ‘Mummy’, and they do it quite a lot, often many times in a row until they feel they have my attention. There are now about 20 other children on Kome Island who imitate this, so for me there is no escape!

So much of our life on Kome for the time being is about language learning and engaging the community. It was evening when we arrived and as soon as we had unloaded the car we wandered around to all of our immediate neighbours’ homes. It is challenging being limited by language, but they all greeted us warmly and it is something we’ll strive to do on all our visits. Our children have really taken on board the local culture of greeting people and they always run out to give their greetings to whoever arrives. They spend about 20 minutes greeting our night watchman most evenings in Mwanza! I was very proud of them so confidently greeting all the locals on Kome. Greetings are generally done on a person by person basis the children dutifully greeted everyone with ‘shikamoo’, which means ‘I respect you’. It was a bit of an adjusted to get them used to using this particular greeting when we first arrived in Tanzania, but they’ve taken on board the importance of respecting older people, whether you know them or not.

Simon spent much of the trip sorting our practical things for the house. This included cutting up sheets of corrugated iron and turning them into a guttering system to collect rain water, and putting up lots of shelves in the house. Both of these things should improve the quality of our lives while we are there. Our house on Kome is pretty basic – this is our kitchen:

We bought a stack of Swahili-English children’s Bible story books before our trip and a local ball (plastic bags stuffed into a woven exterior). For a period each day we let the local children in to our garden to play with ball and then have stories. The children just loved the books; they probably don’t get many opportunities to see nice big colourful pictures and hear stories being read. Each time it was them that put the ball aside and asked me to bring out a book (or two, or three). I didn’t want to make any assumptions so asked whether any of the older ones wanted to have a go at reading the Swahili, but they preferred me to. I don’t want our children to learn Swahili from me, but as it happened the local children started repeating every line of the story after I read it. So I would read in Swahili, the children would repeat in Swahili and then I’d read the page in English for our two. This felt like a good learning opportunity for everyone! (I should add that Swahili is totally phonetic so actually pretty easy to read, even if you don’t fully understand what you’re reading.)

I also spent some time at the RICHI clinic while we were there. We’ve had some challenges working through the practicalities of running the health education project, but it was good to have another opportunity to work through the issues further. I think we’re making good progress now, which is encouraging.

We deliberately went across for a weekend this time, because we wanted to start getting connected to some of the local churches. Due to a bit of a miscommunication we ended up going to two different churches and having food with two different pastors. It was lovely to do it, especially since it was one of the pastors’ last Sundays on the Island as they are being transferred, and we’d built up a good rapport with him over the past few visits. But it also meant that the children had to sit for quite a number of hours in Church, followed by trying to sit nicely in important peoples’ houses after having sat for so long already and not having eaten any food for very many hours. It was actually over eight hours from breakfast to lunch in the middle of the afternoon and Reuben didn’t get a nap until the evening. Our children are used to eating about every two hours in the morning! We will work on planning things a bit better to avoid that happening again! The good thing about Tanzania is that children are such a big part of the culture and mamas are generally experienced in managing children and can often see very quickly what the problem is. When a child is chewing eagerly on a straw and scoffs a handful of raw rice when they see it, you don’t need to make excuses about unsettled behaviour, the locals can see that the child is hungry! We’re also fortunate to be a fish, beans and rice loving family as that’s what we get served everywhere we go! I think the locals are too afraid to serve us the local dish, ugali, and I’ve hardly eaten any since we arrived in Tanzania!

Daily life on the island continues to be quite a bit of work and it often feels like a lot of effort just to stay clean and fed. This trip had the added joy of a visit from a plague of flies. For the first time I really understood what it must have been like for the Egyptions! Apparently it’s quite common during the rainy season, so we won’t look forward to more of the same! I also feel the need to add that we will always be happy to receive visitors, but appreciate that not all our visits would necessarily want to travel with us! So don’t be put off, if you would like to visit us, but would like to enjoy all the luxuries of modern life, these things are available in Mwanza!

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A typical Sunday and more

Our days are quite varied here, but things tend to start on the early side, especially if you are travelling anywhere. When we go to church on a Sunday, we usually need to leave by around 7.30am and the services are usually around two hours long. A lot of the churches have several two hour services on a Sunday which run one after the other! Some of the churches have chai in between the two main services. This includes extremely sweet tea and possibly chapattis, mandasis or bread.

We don’t have a specific church we go to on a Sunday, but instead we try to visit a variety of the local churches. Visitors are very important in the culture here and repeat visits are a sign of acceptance, support and appreciation. There are a number of good, hardworking and gospel focused pastors working in the area and it’s a privilege to be able to support them by visiting them from time to time. There is also a small expat house church that meets from time to time on a Sunday evening, where we can share and spend time with people of a similar background.

EI (our mission sending organisation) work with the Tanzanian Assemblies of God (TAG) churches here in Mwanza, so while we have been here it has been the TAG churches we have been visiting. They vary from church to church, but generally the services are enthusiastic and worship is LOUD! There is usually a worship group that leads the singing and there is often a choir, local or visiting. Matching outfits are a regular feature – local tailoring is big here! You can see a clip of part of the service we visited this week…(sorry the sound is dreadful, that is my phone rather than a reflection of the actual music there!)

Since Tim and Rachel Monger got back from the visit to Canada and the UK we have tried to make some visits to churches as an EI Mwanza team, with all three missionary families. This week we all travelled to a church that us Ewings hadn’t been to before and we decided to all go out for lunch together afterwards. There’s a nice place that’s near the church we visited, but a bit of a trek to go to just for food. They have a fairly large, if slightly rickety boot, and this week we all went out on a ride on it together. It was quite windy and choppy and the girls enjoyed being splashed with the water which came over the sides! At various points we wondered whether the engine was going to keep going and get us back for our food! Food takes a long time to prepare here so we put our order in before going out of the boat for an hour. As it was we didn’t have to wait that much longer once we got back before the food arrived. It was a fun day and we enjoyed spending the time together as a team!


This coming Sunday we plan to go to church on Kome island. That will be our second weekend on the island, and we hope to spend more of our weekends there over the coming months so we can develop relationships with the churches and leaders.

We still have things to smooth out in the partnership we are setting up for the community health education project. I (Victoria) had a long meeting yesterday and there will be more in the coming weeks. We hope to have some agreements in place before the 23rd August when we’ll be meeting with the District Commissioner to ask for final approval of the project. Pray that we manage to work out all the details. Pray also for safe travels and a good visit when we head back to Kome at the end of this week.

Tabitha is taking part in a Swahili challenge, where she’s competing with other missionary children to learn the most Swahili words in a set time. She has a notebook to write down new words and she’s very enthusiastic about it at the moment. Hopefully this will also encourage her in her interactions during our time on Kome!

Home from home

The journey to Kome was quite a bit tougher this time. We were delayed on the first ferry for two hours and when we got to the other side it was obvious they’d had quite a bit of rain. Mostly there isn’t quite space for two lanes of traffic to fit easily on the road, because the road slopes down at the sides so much. To add to which the buses deal with their loss of steering ability by travelling down the middle of the road (at high speed), with no intention of moving for anyone or anything. We made the decision when coming out to Africa this time to not take any unnecessary risks, and that means avoiding rushing when driving. Thankfully, despite our decision to take it easy on this journey, we had no problem getting the next ferry.

It was so nice to be able to actually stay in our own house on Kome. It really helped the children feel settled. There’s just enough space in their room for both their beds and they were very excited declaring their own sides of the room! The house is almost finished and looks pretty good, apart from the absolutely filthy walls. There were some sketches on the walls and the children added a fair few of their own during the week! The walls will be cleaned and painted next time, so hopefully they won’t be too disappointed to find their drawings gone!

The main purpose of the next few trips to Kome is to just get used to how life works on the Island, to get to know people and to work on our Swahili. There are some interventions that we’re hoping to promote on the island and the plan is to use them ourselves and model their use to encourage uptake. One is a tippy-tap (http://www.tippytap.org/). This is a simple tap that works by hanging a bottle on a rope, there is a hole in the body of the bottle for water to come from and a string tied to stick at the bottom. By standing on the stick the bottle is tilted and you have a basic hands free tap. A bar of soap is also tied to the bottle or nearby branch. The second intervention we plan to use is SODIS (http://www.sodis.ch/index_EN), this is a way of purifying water using UV by placing clear plastic bottles of water on the roof of the house and leaving the sun to do its thing. The bottles rest between the corrugations of tin roofs (which the vast majority of houses have here). Third, is a fuel efficient cook-stove. These stoves use less fire-wood and produce less smoke. In order for these interventions to be attractive they have to work for us, and that is where I think we need a bit of practice!fuel efficient stove

The tippy-tap worked OK, but wasn’t the most convenient – we probably should have checked the instructions online first because I don’t think the holes were in quite the right place and at one point I got an unexpected shower when the string broke! The water is a definitely a challenge. Due to a miscommunication, water hadn’t been collected for us when we got there, which was quite late in the day because of the various delays. Lake water needs to be stored for at least 24 hours for the schistosomiases to die, so that was already a lost cause. Sitting for that time also helps the dirt to sink to the bottom. The water was also pretty dirty and it was only when we asked someone to re-stock the following evening that we were told that the lake water is much dirtier in the evenings. Being there helped me realise how much life revolves around water. You don’t notice how much you use when you run a tap and how much you appreciate that the water coming out of it is at least relatively clean. Collecting lake water is a major part of daily life on the island. After letting our water sit for a while we decided the untreated water wasn’t clean enough really for washing our dishes (after using it a few times), so tried adding water treatment to it. Unfortunately the treatment sank straight to the bottom and needed stirring, thus mixing all the sediment back in. It’s such a lesson of trial and error. We now know to remove the clean water from the top and treat that! Water collecting and cleaning is definitely time consuming, and takes a fair bit of thought.

It’s also the top level water that needs to be used for SODIS, because UV can’t effectively kill germs if there are lots of particles in the water blocking it. This means that water needs to sit for about 24 hours and then be SODISed in full sunlight for about 8 hours (two days if half the sky is covered in clouds) before we can use it. So for this to work for us for the first few days of our trips the process would have to be started before we get there, so realistically we’ll only be able to partially use this method. We already know we can get along with SODIS from our timie in Iringa where we treated rainwater collected from the roof, so we plan to model something similar on kome- using plastic tanks and gutters to store rain (which will still need to be treated because of e.g. bird poo on the roof).

We have a camp shower, which really made a difference. It’s effectively a big black bag that you fill with water and leave in the sun to warm up. It was nice to have a warm, if brief, shower in the evenings! On our first day I walked into the toilet/washroom and was immediately greeted by several faces in the window that had climbed up to watch the ‘white woman uses a pit latrine’ show. Thankfully the house we moved into in Mwanza had double curtains on several windows (four instead of two), so we’d brought a bunch with us. This made a huge difference to the quality of my life at that moment!

The final challenge was the fuel efficient stove. Simon is pretty handy, being a Queen Scout and all, so this was a job with his name all over (despite it being a bit countercultural for men to be involved in cooking). We didn’t have great success. Simon did make some bread using a fire-top oven, and boil some water, but we found it quite smoky – not a great example for a reduced smoke cook stove. Perhaps the wood was a bit wet, but whatever the cause someone actually came to try and sell as charcoal telling us they’d seen all our smoke, and that coal would be much cleaner. This kind of goes against the point of the stove, so again we need to do a bit of problem solving! We cheated a bit and took a small one ring gas stove. I’ve felt a bit torn about this because the advice is to use the intervention you are promoting. But equally there’s no point trying to pretend the fuel efficient stove is ever going to be easier than a gas stove and honestly the need for sanity will always win the argument in my mind!

Some of the successes of the trip included getting to know our neighbours a bit – we shared food with our immediate neighbours a couple of times. I had been sort of dreading having to eat ‘dagaa’, the local very small fish that are dried across the whole coastline of Kome and then boiled and served in the very fishy smelling sauce. It turns out though, that when you’re staying there and everything is fish, from the air you breath to the lake water you boil and filter, that actually there’s not much contrast between the general environment and the fish itself and it actually tasted pretty good. Tabitha was a big fan. It’s cooked with plenty of salt too, which your body craves in the heat.

The local children enjoyed spending time with our children and by the end of the trip instead of calling out ‘Mzungu’ (foreigner) they were calling out ‘rafiki’ (friend), which was really nice for Tabitha especially. It would be lovely if she could make a couple of friends who can enjoy her friendship without having to constantly touch her to see what she feels like. I think there is potential with some of the girls who are a couple of years older than her. Reuben may have a harder time as it’s harder to reason with children of his age!20170928_121008

We had one of the pastors over for dinner one evening and managed pretty much the whole time in Swahili, so that was encouraging, although there’s still a lot of work to be done on language acquisition! We’ve had meetings with the heads of the surrounding villages and people seem fairly well informed about why we’re there. We had several people come to ask when the health project will be starting. My background is public health and I do believe that’s the best way I can be most useful on Kome, but it is challenging that inevitably people have come knocking with immediate medical needs. I’m grateful to be working with the RICHI clinical officer, who I can refer people onto. I suspect though that they’d love to see a fully qualified doctor, but unfortunately most of the time that isn’t possible.20170929_183436

We’ve budgeted to go to travel to Kome twice a month and we just need to work out the logistics of it. To be honest the five day trip took its toll a little. With washing dishes in a bowl on the floor, cooking down low and handwashing some clothing, my back was pretty achy. We definitely need to get a couple of low stools to sit on! Equally the journey there and back is pretty spine jarring. There’s quite a lot to pack as we don’t have enough duplicates to stock both houses so the packing and unpacking is a bit of a mission, not to mention having to leave at the crack of dawn both ways. Simon easily did most of the workload and had all the signs of being exhausted when we got back and spiked a fever the next day. As for me, I used my forward facing phone camera as a mirror while we were there. It has an automatic setting to detect your age. It’s usually pretty much spot on for me, but when I looked in it after one particularly bad night on Kome it suggested I was 51! We’ll need to work out a pattern of travel that works for us. Hopefully we’ll be heading back next week, but it may be towards the end of the week, rather than at the beginning.

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Kome

We have really enjoyed our last couple of trips to Kome Island and are looking forward to heading back this week. We’re really hoping that the house will be ready when we get there and that we’ll actually be able to stay in it! I’ve heard so many stories, from pretty much all the missionaries here, about it taking so long to get projects started and the challenges in the beginning. I know it’s not only mission. The clinical trial I worked on in Malawi was delayed by about two years because of challenges getting ready in the first place, buildings that needed building and permissions that needed granting etc, so I don’t think anyone is immune.

We now have funding to set up a Community Health Education project on Kome Island. This is a really new venture for Emmanuel International (EI). Usually EI works directly with churches but on this occasion will be working in a three-way relationship between Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) and a local charity called Rural Islands Community Health Initiative (RICHI). There are always a lot of details to iron out in any new collaboration, and this is no different. All the right people need to be involved from TAG and in the right order and we have to work out how to engage with and get the local churches involved. RICHI also has its own structure, and up until now have been one of only a very small number of organisations doing any kind of healthcare related work on the islands. As with anywhere else in Africa there are local systems of village, regional and district leaders, all of whom need to be involved and give their support. It’s really important not to step on anyone’s toes. All of this means a lot of meetings, conversations and time, before you even get started. With our western mind set we just want to crack on with the work! But here relationships and proper process are the higher concern and it’s impossible to progress effectively without the support of those on the ground.

There is plenty to be getting on with in Mwanza: I’ve started working on some training materials for the health project; there are contacts to be made and CVs to start looking through in our search to find a Community Health Educator; and as EI representatives we look for opportunities to support local projects being run by and through the TAG churches. This week Tabitha and I went to visit a girls’ shelter being run by a friend, who is the wife of one of the local church leaders. The shelter opened a couple of months ago and is being run as a rehabilitation centre for girls who have been living on the streets. There are 19 girls from age 12, three of whom are staying at the shelter with their babies. It is not without its challenges, but it’s lovely to see and support a project run by Tanzanians for Tanzanians. I believe they will always be the best people to find solutions to local problems. The girls are learning a wide range of handicrafts, which may provide them with a source of income in the future. There is a local volunteer who looks after the babies while the girls do their training. And efforts are being made to place the two youngest girls into a local school. I plan to return to the shelter to do some health education training in the near future. My friend really wanted someone who would be able to provide some baking tuition, but anyone who knows me will know that is not exactly a skills set I possess…

Pray for us as we head to Kome this week, while we love our trips there, they are also challenging times. The local children are not used to seeing white children, I suspect for many of them Tabitha and Reuben are the first they have ever seen. Just walking from one place to another can attract a crowd of more than 30 children who just want to watch everything our children do, or who want to touch them and see what they feel like! You can imagine this is a little overwhelming! Especially when it’s hot and everything seems to happen a little differently including when and what we end up eating. I don’t even want to think about what it’s going to be like this time when we have to cook for ourselves! My brain keeps exploding when trying to think about all the stuff we need to take and prepare. Simon’s been running around all week getting guttering and rainwater collection tanks, cooking equipment etc. I know some people like to travel with nothing but a credit card, but I wonder what proportion of people on the Island know what one is!

There’s no piped water on the island and we’re all still getting used to how the ‘bathrooms’ work. But I think it will be much easier when we can stay in our own house, with our own toilet (pit latrine style). We have also had a fence built around our property, which may have a gate on it this time. This will hopefully provide somewhere the children can play in relative privacy, at least some of the time (the local children just climb a nearby rock to watch from a distance, but at least there is some distance). Last time we went we visited some village leaders away from the main town area and it was lovely to see how nicely our children played with the local children when it was just a few of them and they had a chance to interact. I’m sure they will develop good relationships with the local children in time, especially as they gain more Swahili.

 

 

 

All singing and dancing

I can’t believe how fast time goes in Tanzania, this is our third Sunday since we got back from South Africa and we’ve been trying to visit a different church each week to catch up with the different churches that Emmanuel International supports here in Mwanza. This morning we visited Bishop Charles’ church. He’s such a lovely man and it was such a blessing to visit him and his enthusiastic church this morning. They had a visiting choir from Singida, and there’s nothing I can say that can do justice to the service! But there was A LOT of singing and dancing! Everyone in the local congregation thoroughly enjoyed it, and even we felt that the three hour service passed quickly! I think the volume, bright outfits and enthusiastic dancing was possibly a bit overstimulating for Reuben, who opted to sleep through most of it. I hope that my children grow up with some of the freedom that Tanzanian’s have when it comes to singing and dancing with so much enthusiasm and that they won’t suffer excessive self-consciousness and reservedness of the British! Reuben has fully grasped the idea that nothing works when there’s no power and that turning on the tap doesn’t always result in water coming out. During one particular song this morning a fuse blew three times. It was very unfortunate because everyone was enjoying it so much, and because the lead singer was miming to the dramatic voice that was on the recording, so it was difficult to continue without it. They were unperturbed however and restarted the performance each time and each time Reuben gave a commentary along the lines of ‘[Sing] another one! Oh, no power. Power back on! [Sing] again!’. This was all followed by a fantastic buffet lunch, which included pilau rice and delicious fish which we all enjoyed very much.

We’re gearing up to start the new academic year. To be totally honest we were very relaxed last year and didn’t follow much in the way of structure. I’m a bit apprehensive about this year as I think year 1 is a bit of a step up, especially from not really doing much in the way of structured work. Tabitha is really into reading at the moment and is constantly asking me to come listen to her. She’s also enjoying reading a range of different types of books, which is nice and makes it more interesting to listen to her. Last year she read the Beginner’s Bible as one of her main texts and she finished it some months ago. Reuben is just getting to the stage where he’s able to sit and listen to a story and has started taking books to Tabitha for her to read to him. She decided this week that she’s going to read the Beginner’s Bible through again for Reuben as his evening Bible story. This seems to be working well.

We started Tabitha’s maths syllabus this week as it seems a bit more than last year, which made me anxious about getting it all done within the year. She’s doing the US Singapore maths, which I like, because it really gets them to understand the mathematical concepts and is very logical in the way it develops and works through these concepts. But it’s very book based, so I’m trying to find other, more playful ways to help her understand the concepts as well. We’ll be using Jolly Grammar, which we did some of last year, but will be doing it a bit more seriously this year. We have been just dipping in and out and using different books, but this year we need to follow the structure, with things like spellings for each week. Mostly they are just phonetic words, with just a couple of tricky words for each week, but I’m still a bit apprehensive about being organised and keeping up with what she needs to learn. We’re using Sonlight, a Christian US based syllabus for her Bible, literature and history and this year’s topic is ‘Introduction to the World: Cultures’. The syllabus for this year is designed to give an overview of a variety of different cultures and civilisations, to prepare for deeper study in future years. She’s been having a sneak preview of some of the books and I think it’s good timing for her, as she’s developing her understanding of how people live differently in different places, and also beginning to understand about history and how things have changed over time. We’ll update you to let you know how it goes.

We’re finally heading back to Kome for a few days this week. We wanted to go last week, but Dr Makori, who founded the Rural Island Health Initiative, asked us to wait for this week so we could go together. We’re looking forward to seeing the house, and to getting it set up ready for future stays!

Home sweet home

We’re very excited, to not only be back in Tanzania (finally), but also to have moved into our new house! We plan to be in this house for a good while, as our Mwanza base. We’re happy with the house and the children in particular have taken the move really well. I was kind of dreading it for the children, but I think it helped that the previous owners left quite a few books and toys in the house that they couldn’t take back to the UK with them when they left. These include a little train track for Reuben. I had felt a bit sad about getting rid of ours before we came, so that was really nice. The house has 4 bedrooms so there is plenty of space for visitors! In the meantime we’ve turned one room into a school room/office and the other into a reading room. Tabitha spends quite a bit of time in the reading room and is a pretty good reader these days. One of the first things we did in the new house was to create a digging area for the children outside and this has also been extremely popular!

On the downside we have been without water and electricity most of the time we’ve been in the new house and have had no running water for the past few days. This is apparently due to some work they’re doing on a nearby road. The most annoying thing has been not having water in the right place to rinse my hands every time I touch something a bit yuk, and with two small children that’s about every few minutes. We have now bought a bucket with an outlet at the bottom to put over the sink. You wouldn’t believe how life changing these things can be!

There have been quite a few practical things to sort out this past week or so, mainly buying things to get the new house up and running. And Simon has been fixing the car with all the parts he picked up in South Africa. Other than that we’ve felt a tad useless, so are keen to make a trip over to Kome Island, hopefully this coming week. There are some longer-term changes we’d like to make to the house, mainly to the ‘bathrooms’. These seem to have been designed as some sort of joke. Each of these narrow rooms has a sunk into the ground shower placed immediately in front of a raised toilet. This means that for the three shorter members of the family it’s all but impossible to get from standing in the shower to sitting on the toilet, and for the tallest member of the family it’s impossible to make this transition without whacking your head on the fixed position shower head. We’re still trying to work out how to make these functional areas.

My knee has continued to improve this week, I had it aspirated just before we left South Africa and I think that has really helped it settle down. I’ve been careful not to overdo it since we’ve been back, but I think I’m ready now for an Island trip.

The really good news is we’ve managed to secure funding to run a health education project on the island. The money will cover the cost of us travelling to the Island – it’s quite a long trip so works out pretty expensive. It will also cover the cost of employing someone with local knowledge and language skills to be able to help set up the peer-educator project. I’m really excited about this. We appreciate prayers that we’ll be able to find the right person. One of the main areas for the project will be breastfeeding peer support and so it’s really important to find the right person with a good mix of experience and approachability.digging area tz_2017

South Africa

We’ve now been in South Africa for two weeks and although we don’t have an exact departure date, it will probably be by the end of this week, or early next week. I’m pleased to say there has been a lot of progress with my knee, which is well on its way to recovery. At one point I was worried I’d be going back to Tanzania with my knee much as it was when we left, but thankfully that is not the case!

After weeks of not really being able to walk on, bend or straighten my leg properly, I was definitely ready to get it sorted, and wasn’t keen on the idea of returning to Tanzania until it was something like sorted. But there are mixed feelings too. While it was frustrating not being able to get stuck into doing anything much on the islands because of the challenge of getting there with my knee how it was, it’s been just as frustrating to be even further away in order to get it sorted. We do feel sure it was the right decision though and are encouraged now that it looks like our return date will be soon. And despite the frustrations it’s been lovely to enjoy a holiday in South Africa! I’m sure we’ve picked up a few pounds of extra weight from all the good food. We’ve especially been enjoying the variety of food. In the last week my knee has been that much better and we’ve been able to a couple of holiday-style days out. On the down side, I guess we partly don’t feel like we’ve been in the thick of life in Tanzania long enough to deserve the indulgence or time away. We’re also aware that the break away at this point is less than ideal for our language acquisition. It’s challenging for the children too. We’ve spent a few months in each of two different houses many miles apart from one another in Tanzania, and now all our things are packed in one room, ready to be moved to the new house on our return. At one point we had to clarify that when we leave South Africa we’ll be going back to Tanzania, not the UK. It has been great to be able to stock up on some essentials, like sun cream and life jackets, but I think we’re all ready to get back to the simple life of Tanzania. I think the children miss playing in the dirt outside!

One of the biggest hurdles for the health project now is getting funding. We’ve been putting in various funding applications, so prayers appreciated that one of them will be successful!