*Below are blog posts from a blog project I had to do while in Tanzania for a class. The original content came from the blog title called A Red Bird In Africa.
Feed One, Feed Them All….
We left the comforts of Green Mountain Hotel and ventured three hours out to a rural Maasai village and school in Tinga. The drive would take us all from the lush greenness of the Arusha area to the dry dusty plains of Africa. Pass natures breath-taking scenery. The plan for the day was to hang out with all the children, and have first-hand experience with Convoy of Hope’s Children’s feeding program at the Lisingita Primary School.
Our jeep rolled into the excitement of the children seeing us. Like fans going nuts after seeing their favorite celebrity. It was nuts! I never in my life had this much attention (I’m an only child) as these kids gave me when they were let loose on us. As soon as they were loose they latched on to all of us and would not even let go unless forced. Daudi and a professor told us all children in Africa do not get enough attention from adults and to show them as much attention as humanly possible. True! These children have so little in a way of material comforts most other children in the developed world has. Just the simplest game of four corners brought them joy, laughter, and brought a huge smile to their faces.
The main purpose of this trip into the deep bush of Tanzania was the Convoy of Hope’s feeding program. This program was to establish sustainability in feeding the children who come to school, and promoting nutrition into children’s diet. Before we came Daudi told us all that most children in poor regions of Tanzania only get one meal a day and it does not always have the vital nutrients needed for the children to be healthy. Our contribution to this feeding program was to help pass out plates of porridge fortified with key nutrients, with mango juice to drink and worming medication if needed to the children. Every child got a meal by the end of the day.
At the end of the day, the question remains, is this community development or is this “religious tourism” or the fine line between volunteerism and actual service? Luptin from Toxic Charity constantly reminded me what this trip needs to be all about; how to promote long-term community development and relationships in a short period of time while avoiding “religious tourism.” I see this as both a volunteerism and actual service when I have two capable hands with a brain attached to them. Luptin goes further in saying service originates in the heart and flows out to touch a hurting world. Compassion is the reflection of the divine, the in-person reassurance that there is care in this world. If one day of feeding a school full of children is compassionate service, then it must be one part of the community development process. Convoy of Hope is about compassionate service, and the lesson learned is no matter how small my actions are in this, it still has an impact somewhere along the process to community sustainability for the children of the school.
Maasai Women: Gift Of Empowerment
Look into those eyes. What do you see? A child with a backpack? What about those brown eyes? The ones piercing into the your soul. What do you see? I see a girl who will one day grow up to be a women with a family. The cure for poverty has a name and in fact. It’s called empowerment of women – Christopher Hitches. While at the Maasai school all of us women have the chance to talk to a group of Maasai women who are apart of the feeding program at the school.
There is not much difference between women in the developing world and women in the developed world. As I sat listening and asking questions of the Maasai women, the answers given were same for every women in the world. No matter where us women are in this world, we all want the same things for ourselves, our families, and for our communities. In the discussion we all talked about marriage, the importance of children in our culture, what surprised us about each other’s culture, education of their children especially their girls, and what Convoy of Hope could do to help the Maasai community. Their humor, their gratitude, and their love in calling us all daughters meant so much to me. Made the whole day extra special and started the healing process within myself.
Coming back to the little girl in the picture, what do you see? In The Hole On Our Gospel Richard Stearns points out in Africa a “women’s earning potential increases when she is educated. Girls are more likely acquire skills to improve the economic stability of her family and she makes sure her daughters receive an education too (p140).” After seeing this play out in other communities where Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment program is active, educating girls and women pays dividend after dividend to the whole community. I agree with both Convoy of Hope’s empowerment mission, and the author of Hole In The Gospel in the single most significant important thing to cure extreme poverty is to “protect, educate, and nurture girls and women and provide them with equal rights and opportunities-economically, educationally, and socially.”
What I see in the picture of this little girl is potential, empowered women in the future of Tanzania and her tribe.
We won’t unlock opportunities for young women and girls unless we can change the mindset of every family and community. To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls. Prince Harry of Wales
One thing I noticed when we all where at the school was the men did get the chance to talk with the Maasai men. What did surprise me was fellow male classmates wanting to sit down with the Maasai women and ask them questions. Cory, Ben and Josh were very interested in wanting to know what the Maasai women needed men to do to help them feel empowered in their community. I love how Prince Harry of Wales states it is not only for women who need to speak up, but men also. It also reminds me of a husband of one of the women I visited in Arusha telling Doc T and I more men need to step up and help support their wives in supporting the family. The three young men here are an example of “stepping up” to empowering women in their community. I just hope all three will bring this insight back to their communities and speak up for women’s empowerment.