This is the second in a series of reports based on the observations of Ann and Julian Marcus during their safari in January and February 2017. Remarkably, they made more than 25 project visits, at their own cost and enduring no little discomfort on the way. The visits below include one of TDT’s recent ‘flagship’ projects – a series of investments in and around the village of Marumba – as well as revisiting one of TDT’s first-ever projects.
Marumba Village Community Projects
Marumba is a main village and cluster of hamlets in the far South of Tanzania, separated from Mozambique only by the Ruvuma River.
TDT and its partner ‘Eu-can-aid!’ are developing projects with the local community. The idea is to see if by investing in a number of projects chosen by the village whether living standards can be lifted. ‘Eucanaid!’ is a voluntary charity like TDT, made up from workers in EU institutions, but not a Government outfit.
95 Km South West of Masasi, you pass through a Forest Wildlife Reserve to reach Marumba, a sprawling village, mostly of poor housing, but interspersed with a few more modern houses and signs of income generation.
We could see that an event rehearsal was under way, with loud music being played, but our first destination was the 70-metre deep bore hole and pump. This was situated about 1km south of the village going towards the Ruvuma River, from which the villagers used to get their water.
We were able to ask some of the young people collecting water if it had been dangerous before- oh YES! Then they introduced us to Rashidi, a stocky young farmer. “Show them your arm Rashidi”. Rashidi’s arm has great scars where a crocodile grabbed him and tried to pull him under the water. He screamed and his mates ran and held the other arm, calling out for more help, but the crocodile held fast. Finally lads arrived with pangas (straight grass cutting scythes) and attacked the crocodile. Eventually it opened its jaws sufficiently for Rashidi to get free, before it sank out of sight beneath the river. They bound his arm with shirts to stem the flow of blood and got him on to a bicycle and wheeled him over 30km to the main road where they got a car to take him to hospital at Ndanda, where he was treated for 2 months. He was 21 at the time, and his wife had just born their first son. Last year before the bore hole opened, three villagers were less lucky than Rashidi and were killed by crocodiles. Now everyone can have safe and clean water.
Water was also the priority at the modern Government Dispensary, together with solar powered lighting and we saw the huge tank the programme has installed and the array of panels and batteries. A separate system, Government- installed, powers the chiller/freezer for keeping medicines safe. We have provided solar power and lighting at the staff houses, to help staff recruitment and retention at this isolated location.
The needs at the Primary School were very obvious, as our first encounter was with a very well behaved group who had to wait under the trees because they had no classroom; another group had their lesson on a ‘veranda’. The programme has provided one excellent new classroom (pictured) and has provided funds for 2 more, and construction will begin shortly, also on much improved toilets.
The new young Head teacher seems enthusiastic and we hope will be able to raise attainment standards.
Masasi Primary School Special Needs Section
Our final visit in the South was also most heartening. Back in the 1960s, Bishop Trevor Huddleston founded in Masasi a small school for blind children, and it was one of the first projects TDT began to support 41 years ago. The school has gone through many changes and is at the moment a unit within a huge Government Primary school of 1500 pupils, although many of these will be transferred to a new school.
We visited 2 years ago and the Special Needs Unit was in a dire state. We sent money for new toilets and it wasn’t clear if this had been spent or “lost”. Then last year we heard that following an adverse auditors’ report, the Headteacher and Deputy Head had been demoted and transferred. Fearing the worst, we arrived to be greeted by Mwalimu Jerome Idrisa, the new Deputy-Head i/c of Special Needs. He has had a 2-year additional training in Special Needs, but he is also clearly keen and efficient and knows and likes the children. The loos and showers we had paid for were excellent and spotless (all water flushed); the dormitories were in good condition and odour free, though lacking cupboard space. There is a matron and “patron” (i.e. house-father) who sleep in the same rooms as the children. Both seemed warm and competent, and the young man has begun a tree planting programme on site. We also met the cook and heard about the meals.
The children seemed well and lively, and many more of the albino children were wearing hats. Mwalimu Jerome said that there was a shortage of sun cream. We also met many of the teachers in the staff-room, hard at work marking – a purposeful atmosphere.
Stay with Ann and Julian for their next trip, as they will be heading to Northern Tanzania to Simiyu and Mara Regions, and the Safe House.