Saturday, 19 October 2013

It's been too long!

I know that I say this every time before I post a blog, but this time it's been a good while since I posted. I haven't updated all of you since July 27th! I'm sorry for this, there have been plenty of reasons why I haven't been blogging, but I won't go into them. They have got nothing to do with the charity work, it's all personal boring stuff!

I will warn you all now, I won't be posting into too much detail this time, it would simply take too long. You wouldn't be able to read it all in one go! I will keep it brief, and then once I started posting again each week, I can include more details.

I must admit, I am a little bit nervous to post after not writing for so long. I fear that I will miss important bits of information. But, I have a good few hours to do this, so I will make sure I cram the most interesting bits in!

Let me start from where I left off. Ah yes, I even had to check my last blog post to see what I had written about. We were just about to paint the walls for Mama Dora's house. Of course, by now, and I'm sure that all of you know, we have finished that house. Which means that The House That Zac Built officially finished their first project. Credit? It's a beautiful little home out in Duka Bovu. I visited Mama Dora a few weeks ago to see how she was getting on. It sits so well which the scenery. I know I have said it before but I would love to live somewhere like that, it's so peaceful. Mama Dora and her family are doing great, they love their new home. Mama Dora said to Adam that she knew she had always wanted her own place, but she never knew how nice it would feel to live in her own home, to have the freedom which she has. Mama Dora has also built a small little kitchen outside of the house, as it can get quite windy there, so she needs the shelter! However, there was once thing which annoyed me a little bit. When we were building her house, there were no other houses around, and from the windows there were beautiful views of the Tanzanian landscape. However, just a few weeks after the family moved in, one Mama decided to buy a plot of land right next to Mama Dora's. She has already started to build five rooms for rental there. Now out of one of the windows, all you can see are bricks! I don't understand it, there is so much land around, why couldn't she find a plot which didn't block the view? It's so frustrating. It's very common here in Tanzania, people copy each other a lot. 'Oh that Mama is living there now, there must be something good there, I'll go build a house right next to hers!' No - please find your own plot somewhere and leave Mama Dora and her family alone! Anyway, apart from that, they are great! They are living comfortably in one bedroom and living room, and are currently in the process of renting out the third room, so that they can easily sustain themselves!

 After Project Dora came Project Sanitation! Once we had finished Mama Dora's house, we had some money left over so we decided to start a side project until we had raised enough to build another house. The idea was to provide three families, living with poor sanitation, three new good toilets. Also, to provide them with personal hygiene information and toilet paper! Most of the families who are poor use old exercise books.....It didn't work exactly how we had planned as we only managed to have enough money to build one toilet. We do however, have the funds for another two now, but we are busy helping Alice with Mama Diana's house, so the toilets will have to wait.

 We chose three families to build toilets for. Bibi Anna, (Bibi means grandmother in Swahili, but it's most commonly used to greet anybody who is much older than you) who lives in Unga Limited, not far from Mama Mary's house, Mama Godi, who lives in Monduli, and Bibi Mwanasifa who also lives in Monduli. We started with Mama Godi.

Mama Godi lives with around eight children. I can't remember all of their names, it's only Lightness and Goodluck that stick in my head. Lightness is the eldest daughter, and Goodluck is the eldest son. Lightness is 18, and Goodluck is 24. I had met Mama Godi a few times before whilst doing a food run for Project Rehema, so she knew me quite well. Their previous toilet was appalling, just a small shack made from bits of wood and some tar-pawling covering a small hole with a not very deep pit. Mama Godi was extremely happy when we told her we were going to be building her a new toilet, and she's even happier now it is finished! I forgot to mention, the whole time that we were building Mama Godi's toilet, we had a visiter! Charlie Car-Gomm, who is a friend of mine, expressed her will, a few months ago, to come and see our work, and to film a short documentary! I had a lovely time with Charlie, she was great to have around, wonderful to talk to, and I really enjoyed her filming things. I had filmed things in the past but never as well as she had, I don't have all of the fancy equipment either. Watching the footage back in the evenings, and seeing the translations was always nice. Charlie was around for just over a month. We visited each of the projects which we have done so far, but we spent most of the time at Mama Godi's filming the toilet being built. Charlie got really close to Mama Godi and the family, and she enjoyed spending her time there. Although, she did tend to fall asleep a lot of the time. I think it was partly due to the weather, but also altitude and dehydration would have factored. I tried the whole time, but I couldn't quite get her to drink as much water as you should be doing here, oh well.

There was one day where I thought I would try and be a bit artistic, but it didn't work out, infact, it was a complete fail . I tried to draw 'The House That Zac Built' in nice writing, into the wet plaster, on the side of the toilet. I'm too embarrassed to show it to you all, but here is what Charlie managed to do. I love it, I think we should do it on every house we build!
Unfortunately, after doing Mama Godi's toilet, we didn't have enough money to do anything else, so it all went on hold for a while. I will admit, I lost quite a bit of motivation over the time when we didn't have any work, and found myself getting pretty bored. I still had some problems going on, and also was still trying to make my car run properly. I was stressed. However, I feel better now, my energy levels are up again and I feel like writing my blog! It's a good sign.

The project which we are working on at the moment is a little different from Mama Dora's house. A while ago, I was contacted by a girl from the UK called Alice. I still to this day don't know how she found out about me, but she had heard that I had finished building a house for a lady in Tanzania. Alice, the same as me, used to volunteer with TVE. Whilst volunteering, she met a lady and her family who were living in extremely poor conditions, and decided that she wanted to build them a new house! Alice explained that she wanted to raise the money in the UK and then build the house around October time 2013. Alice visited Arusha in April, whilst Max and I were here, so we decided to meet up with her to talk about what she wanted to do. We met her one evening, and made plans to meet the following day so that we could go and see the site where she wanted to build. We all met Mama Diana, a lovely and very happy lady, who reminds me a lot of Mama Mary. Alice is to her what I am to Mama Mary, it's nice to see! I knew straight away the problems we were going to encounter with the project, which was mainly getting materials there, but I knew that we would be able to work it out!

 I won't go too much into detail about the months after that. What I can say is that Alice is here, right now, and we have started to build the house for Mama Diana. Alice has done a great job of raising the funds in the UK. Being a charity now, she was able to use us on JustGiving, which I think makes people a bit more sure about donating. They know that they money is going to go to the right place! I think she raised around £4,500 in total. Which is plenty to get this house done, and an incredible achievement. Going back to what I said about materials, we have managed to sort it out, but it took a while. Firstly we found a good drop site for the materials, and we had all of the bricks dropped there. The only problem was that, the drop site, is situated about a five minute walk, up and down hills from where Mama lives. We used ten guys, for two days, to carry 1300 bricks to Mama's site. Bricks aren't too hard to carry, they are rectangle in shape and it's easy to get a couple laid on top of each other. Stones however, are a different story. Big, heavy, sharp edged awkward stones, are not easy to carry. We had to work out an easier way to get them to site, or it was going to cost Alice too much to pay people each day to carry them.  Luckily, I have Adam, a really smart local guy working with me, he helps me with so much. Without him, I wouldn't be able to work here and get the houses done. Adam found a different drop off site, which wasn't as easy to drop materials to, but it was easier to get them to Mama's. The land leading to Mama's house, was owned by an old lady nearby, who had no problem with us dropping the materials there, and luckily, no problem with using a wheelbarrow across her land to move them close to Mama's house either. We were pretty lucky. So lucky, that all of the stones for the foundations were delivered and moved to site in one day, we had predicted six days. Adam saved Alice a lot of money, and he saved her a lot of time too!

I'll leave it at that for now, but I will keep you updated with how the project comes along! Sorry again that it's been so long since I posted.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Progress, Problems and Max's visit

Since the title of this post starts with Progress, I think that's what I'll start with. We've come along way since I last posted. As per usual, it's been ages since I've found the time to sit down and write, so I'm pretty far behind. My last blog post took us to the top of the walls, and we were about to ready to do the lenter foundations. We finished that a good week or so ago now, and have since finished the roof, plastering the inside and outside of the house, fitting the windows and doors, along with the glass, the ventilation vents and started applying gypsum to the walls. It won't be long until we have finished now. I must admit, the whole process has slowed right down, it's hard to see as much of a change day to day as you could when we started the project. It's still nice to go there though, the finishing aspects of the projects I find are the most satisfying. It's very relaxed there, and you know that really soon the family will be moving in. As expected, we have gone over budget a little bit. There have been so many hidden costs, and alongside with the car it's started to stress me out a little bit. Before Max came, I was working very long days. I think I took on too much. I was sorting out things for volunteers with getting kids into school, managing things at the project, and having problems with the car. I managed to get myself a bit overtired, and ended up losing all motivation and energy for a few days. It wasn't until yesterday that I came out of it and stopped constantly sleeping. I feel better today. I woke up earlier than the past few days, met George in town, who I'll tell you about later, and gave him money to get to the project, then headed home to get on with this blog!

One of the problems I have already mentioned. Which is about going so far over budget. Unfortunately, the original quote which Bonge gave me was way off on quite a few things. The amount of extra materials we needed is shocking, and Adam and I have spoken to him in depth about making sure that the next quotes are more reliable. The main one is the cement. On the original quote it said we would only need 35 bags, but we are coming up to using seventy now. There are plenty of other things but I won't go into them too much, it's a bit boring. It's hard to keep an eye on every bag of cement being used, as I'm not at the project 24/7. However, I have come up with a rule that after every bag of cement is used, Bonge keeps the bag and stacks it to one side, so that I can count at the end of the day how many have been used. I'm still learning, and a lot of things which I have learnt on this project will benefit me so much on the ones to come. That problem isn't quite as interesting as this one. Max arrived last Wednesday, and during the short time he was here, we had quite a lot to do. We needed to be at the project each day, at least every morning,  to make sure things were running okay and if there was anything we needed to pay for. The following Saturday, the day didn't go as smoothly as hoped. Max and I left early, around six thirty, and arrived in Duka Bovu just after seven. When I got there, I went inside and there was some obvious tension between the builders. Bonge called me into the room and apologised for what he was about to say. He explained that the builders were very angry that they hadn't been paid for the last few days of work, and that they had decided to leave. I tried to level with them, but they wouldn't listen. They packed up there things and left the site and village within twenty minutes of us arriving there. George, who I had picked up that morning from where he sleeps on the street, had to wait in the back of the car until we sorted it out. Adam was away that weekend, so I called him to explain what was happening, and asked if he could call Bonge to see what he said. When Adam called me back, I was quite shocked to hear what had happened. Two of the builders, had gotten extremely drunk the previous night, and had caused a lot of trouble in the guest house. They had vocally abused one of the local Mama's. Swearing in Tanzania is extremely frowned upon, and especially towards an elder, it's almost a crime. The Mama who they had been rude to, called the police the previous night and the police had planned to come the following morning. This was why the builders had left in such a hurry, it was merely to escape the police. I wasn't best pleased. However, I was happy that they had left. I don't want people like that working for me. We managed to get it sorted, and found another builder for the day to help with the plastering.

I'll tell you a little more about George. Most nights when I go out in Arusha, on the way home, I often get some chips mayai to eat. Close by where you by the food, there are a lot of street children sleeping on the side of the roads. A week or so before Max came, I picked three children up from the street, all aged about fifteen, who had run away from home because of problems with their family. It really upsets me when I see children on the street, in my head it's completely wrong, they don't deserve it. So, I always try and help out a little bit and buy a few of them some food for the night. One night when I went there, I actually went over to where they sleep and had a chat with some of them. It's a surprisingly nice environment, social wise. Quite a few of the kids are sniffing glue which is difficult to see, but others seemed more switched on. They all range in age. Some are as young as ten, and some are a lot older, between eighteen and twenty. I always think when I see them what I was doing when I was fifteen, I had everything I needed, free school, a nice bed, warm and safe home to sleep in, and always food to eat. I feel guilty when I see them, so I decided I would do something to help. One kid who I spoke to, and had relatively good English was called George. George is eighteen, and is originally from Kenya. He has been living on the street for six years. He left home after his father died and there was nobody to support him. He's a smart kid, and I decided to give him a chance at something. After meeting him, I went back a few days later with my friend Lukas, so he could translate. I offered George the chance to work on the site as a labourer, and had Lukas explain what Max and I were doing here. He was keen, and we agreed to meet him the next morning at seven thirty. He was there on time, so we drove out to Duka Bovu together with Max. Max and I had a job to do that day around mid-day so we left site around eleven. I asked Bonge to keep an eye on George for me, and let me know how he did that day, and to be honest with me later whether or not he worked hard enough.

Our job that day was to meet a girl called Alice, from the UK, and look  at a project which she wanted to do. Alice volunteered here a while back, and similar to how I did with Mama Mary, she met a family living in appalling conditions and wanted to build them a new home. The house is in a place called Ungelelo, not too far from where I live actually. First we went and picked up Anna, the director from the school where Alice volunteered, and her co-worker Ernest. Then we drove to Ernest brother's house to park the car, and walked towards where the house is. It wasn't too far a walk from where we parked the car to the house, and I could already see how this project would be difficult to do. There was no access to a road near by, the terrain was very green and it the rainy season it would be almost impossible to transport materials. However, despite this, it would definitely be a cool project to do. The house they live in is appalling. Very similar to Mama Mary's, it's made from mud and wood, and is slowly collapsing. It's on a slope, but there is some flat land next to the house which after a bit of ground work, would be good to build on. The Mama, who's name I've forgotten was very happy to see us and extremely welcoming. I explained to Alice that it would be difficult to do but Max and I were very keen to jump on board. We talked about ways to transport materials and where to store them, too. Max and I headed back to the project in Duka Bovu, after arranging to meet Alice the following morning with Bonge so he could have a look and work out a quote for her. We got back to the site that afternoon. Bonge was pleased with George's work, so I gave him 10,000tsh for the day. I explained that we wouldn't be working on Sunday but that he would be able to work again on Monday.

Max and I went out for a bit that evening, and popped over to the street kids to see George again. George told Lukas, who translated to me, that he had already deposited 10,000 for a room in Arusha, and that he just needed another five thousand to pay for the month. I explained that he could pay the extra the following Monday when he gets his next wage. I knew George was smart from the first time I met him, and I was extremely happy that he had gone straight to get a room instead of spending the money on alcohol or something else which he didn't really need.

The following day on Sunday, Adam, Max and I planned to drive to Babati to look for another housing project. By the time we got to Duka Bovu, I was already having numerous problems with the car, so I called off going to Babati, and decided that I would go home to talk to Danny about the car. I left it with Adam and Max, as there were going to go to Monduli to look for the next project. This is around the time that I got really tired and just slept for ages. I went home that afternoon, spoke briefly to Danny about the car and then passed out until around 8pm, I woke up, ate some food and went around to Heriets, and then just fell asleep there too.

I'm not sure exactly what we did on Monday, I think we just made sure everything was going okay at the project and then had a bit of a chilled one. I've just arrived home from the project, it's looking great! All of the floor is finished, and the outdoor toilet will be finished by the end of the day. All that is left to do is paint the walls! Hurray!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Project Dora

A lot has happened since I last posted. I'll fill you in as much as I can. The most important thing is that I have finally started to build Mama Dora's new house.

I had initially planned to start building on Monday, but unfortunately my builder wasn't available until Thursday. To be honest, the whole situation wound me up a bit, and my start to the week didn't go too well. I had spent the whole of Sunday with Bonge, and we had agreed to start building the next day. I woke up to a message from Adam informing me that Bonge wasn't available and that he had gone to another job. I was understandably not very happy, so I spoke to Bonge and explained that I was taking off money from his labour charge and that if something similar happened again, I'd find another builder. The next day, the same happened again. I text Bonge to explain that I was looking for another builder, but I didn't hear back from him and I couldn't find another builder quickly enough. Later that day, I spoke to Adam who had spoken to Bonge. Bonge had said that he sent three builders there to find somewhere to stay for the project, and that they would be starting on Thursday. I didn't really have a choice but to keep on with Bonge, and to be honest, I think it was a good idea in the end not to find another builder, him and his team have been working extremely hard, the progress has been fantastic. 

After having a rough day on Wednesday I had a bit of a heavy night, and struggled to get up in the morning, but I got there eventually. I met some volunteers the night before, Tyler and Scott, who are from Virginia. I told them about what I was doing and invited them along the next day to help with digging the foundations. We all got stuck in that morning, and got pretty far very quickly. Bonge said that it would be a good idea to buy some bricks that day so that the following morning they could start laying them straight away. We needed three hundred bricks, and could only fit fifty in the car at a time so we ended up having to do six trips. We spread them out whilst doing other things, and got there eventually. Before I knew it, it had started to get dark so we headed back in to town. Adam drove us to the clock tower, as Scott, Tyler and I had decided that we wanted a burger before heading home. We had a laugh, as we had done all day, and then Adam drove them both home before heading back to Moshono. I was so tired, and was asleep within an hour or so. I knew I had to get up early in the morning to be out there again.

Unfortunately the next day we didn't have a vehicle, so we had to use public transport. It wasn't that bad to be honest, just a little inconvenient. When I arrived the builders had already started laying bricks and I could see the shape of the house already. Initially we had planned to build two rooms to house Mama Dora and the children she looks after. However, doing it that way would have cost too much money so we decided to do the three rooms together. Giving her two rooms to live in and one for rent, except it would be attached. There's a dividing wall and a separate door though! Before the bricks were all used up, we decided it would be a good idea to buy the remaining 850. It costs me a fair bit, and due to not having a car, I had to pay for a truck to deliver the bricks but it wasn't too bad in the end. Originally, the quote stated that each brick would cost 800tsh but we managed to find some for 700tsh, so the extra money for delivery wasn't too much of a problem. By the end of the day, the builders had finished laying three bricks high from the foundations all around the house, and started installing the iron rods used to secure the foundations below.

On the following day, Saturday, it was more of the same. The cement around the iron bars had dried up so the builders were able to start building up the walls. They work so quickly it's astonishing, and with only one break a day for lunch I really appreciate how hard they are working for this project. I bought them all a soda each and we sat and had a laugh on Saturday. I want to keep them happy and I think doing small things like that is really effective from a management point of view. A friend of mine, Ashley, who is a volunteer, came along with me that day to see the projects. She enjoyed herself and I was glad she got stuck in with the work. We had a short driving lesson too, as she'd never driven manual before. I was impressed, I think if I tried to drive a land rover straight off I would definitely stall it! We both left the site early as I had promised Ashley that we would go and see Mama Mary too so that she could see the first house which I built. She had seen the video of me surprising Mama Mary, and had wanted to meet her ever since. Unfortunately, Mama Mary was far from her bubbly self as she is in that video. Instead, she was extremely drowzy and complaining about back, neck, and leg ache. I asked her if she had been vomiting or had any stomach problems but she said that she had been fine in that sense. I thought it a good idea anyway to go and get her blood checked and she was showing very common signs of Malaria. We found a local hospital where they checked her blood and had the results just after a few minutes. Not to my surprise, she did indeed have Malaria. I bought her the medication she needed and the doctor and I explained how she needed to take it. I walked back with her, and for the whole way I was very sad. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a single mother, looking after seven children, couldn't afford the medication for the most fatal disease in the world just because pharmacutical companies make a fortune off of them. It really made me feel sick. I don't often get down here anymore, I guess I have seen a lot so it takes a lot to make me feel down about it, but it really affected me. All I know now is that she is on the mend, and she'll be back to her normal self within a week or so. Bonge and the builders wanted to work on Sunday but I explained to them that I wanted them to have a day off, so that they could rest before working the next week. I don't think it's fair to expect the guys to work seven days a week. We're not in any particular rush with the project so there isn't much point in working for seven days a week. Also, secretly, I wanted a day off too, so that I could play football in the morning and relax for the rest of the day.

Football the next day however didn't happen. I was told to be there around ten, so I got there about 10.15. I warmed up a little bit and kicked the ball around with the other boys but after an hour, there was no sign of the other team. The last thing I wanted to do was wait around until 2pm when it is too hot to play, like I did last week, so I just went home back to bed. I didn't do much yesterday apart from hang around at home. I did meet up with a friend of mine called Lauchie though. He's an awesome dude from Australia who's work here is all based around getting kids from poor backgrounds and from not so good schools into better education. He sponsors all of his children into a school called Haradali. It's got a great reputation, it's extremely legit, and all in all is a wonderful school. It's not the cheapest, but definitely worth the money if you really want a child to get a good education. I'm thinking at the moment of trying to get Vicky and Agripina sponsored into that school so that I know when they are older they have a much better opportunity of succeeding. My aunty Gabriella has been interested in sponsoring a child for a long time, so I will be speaking to her soon about that!

Today there was even more progress with the house. By the time I arrived on site, around 10am, they walls were already right up to the top, they had started to dig the toilet behind, and were just waiting for me to pay for lenter wood so they good start the upper level foundations. These are similar to those above the foundations underneath the house. They secure the area around the top of the bricks with old bits of wood, and then place 10mm iron rods on top and cover them with cement. This is to ensure that the building can withstand the weight of the roof once we start to put it up! I've noticed that Bonge and his team are much more professional with the way they go about building than the builders I used for Mama Mary's house. It's pretty nice having the feeling that you have somebody reliable and trustworthy now that you can work with for all of your future projects. It benefits Bonge too, a constant source of income is always a good thing! I left today just before they finished as our second delivery of sand didn't turn up. Which meant they couldn't quite finish cementing the lenter foundations. It's not a problem though, like I said, we are in no rush, so we will just continue tomorrow and see how it goes!

Other than that I really haven't been doing much, twelve hour days most of the time sorting stuff out for the house, the car, and also keeping my books right is taking up all of my time. I'll post again soon once we've made some more progress! 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Car

This past week has possibly been one of the most frustrating ones I've ever had in Tanzania. But it's Saturday now, and it's looking like it will all work out fine. 

I'll start with the car, then fill you in on some other things which I've been doing. Something I've been thinking about for quite a while is that I don't earn any money whilst I am in Tanzania. Not having an income is by far one of my biggest concerns. So I've thought for a while of something which I could do which would allow me to get an income and do the projects at the same time. I decided that I would buy a car, with the intent of using it for getting to the projects and also for renting it out to safari companies for an income. I spoke to some people to get advice on a good vehicle to invest in. Adam helped me out quite a lot. Eventually I decided to get a Land Rover TDI 300 pick up truck. It's perfect as I would be able to use it for the projects for carrying materials in the back, and it's also very economical, it doesn't use much fuel. Safari companies use trucks like these as 'supply trucks' for camping safari's. When they have a camping safari, instead of stuffing all of the camping gear, food and water etc in the truck with the clients, they have a supply truck drive it around and drop it off. It saves time and it's more professional. As I had to use quite a lot of money to buy the car itself, I didn't really want to do separate cash withdrawals everyday until I had enough cash. So, I transferred the money to Mike, which allowed to take it out in one chunk and just pay a small transfer fee. After a good week of waiting around, and people telling me that the car which I should buy would be coming tomorrow, I finally got it. 

To be honest, it wasn't in the greatest nick, but the engine is in perfect condition. I didn't realise at the time how much money I would need to spend to fix it all up and prepare it for safari's so I was quite surprised when I found out. I've probably spent just over another £1000 on fixing it all up, including insuring it and paying for the road license (which was out of date by two years so I had to pay penalty fines, as if that would ever be allowed at home). It's great now though, it's not fully insured yet but I've driven it around a few times, it's a really good car. It needs a few other bits and bobs fixing up but nothing big. The whole thing stressed me out quite a lot though. I spent a good few days just hanging around in the garage, being told what needed doing, and just handing out cash for it to get done. People work so slowly here, so it took a while to get it all done, it's so frustrating. It's worked out though. I have a meeting with a big safari company on Monday regarding renting the car out for the whole of the high season. Which is July until the end of August. I could get around $150 a day for it, which is great, I just hope the deal goes through. You might be wondering how I'm going to get to the projects if my car is rented out. Well, I already struck a deal to rent one of his pick up trucks for cheap whenever I need it. I'm also thinking about going and staying in Duka Bovu for three weeks whilst the next project is being done. It will be nice to get away from the city for a little while. It will give me a bit of time to relax and focus on what I'm here for. 

I remember that I promised to update you on Mama Mary's new fruit and vegetable business. Well, good news all around tonight, the business is going great. I wasn't too sure the first time I popped down as I was alone and Mama Mary was talking about wanting to sell cooked banana's too, so I was worried she was struggling. But when I visited on Sunday, Agripina was working at the shop, and everybody else was at home. When I arrived at the house, I noticed that all of the children were eating rice and beans. I was instantly happy. I'll explain why. Most of the time when I ever used to go around to Mama Mary's, if I hadn't given her any money for food for the week, they would all just eat ugali and spinach. Which is definitely the cheapest meal over here. Ugali is just maize flower cooked in water until it goes stodgy. It fills you up, but not for very long, and it has no protein or nutrients inside. It's definitely not something which growing children should be eating twice every day. So seeing them eating food which is that little bit more expensive really made me feel like I had achieved something. Beans are expensive here, and they are a good source of protein. I would much rather see the kids eating this every day than ugali and spinach! I hung around for a while that day, ate a little and then headed off to Mama Zulfa's house. Zulfa goes to Golgotha school and I have become very close to her and her mother over the past couple of years. Her mother is HIV+, which is extremely unfortunate, but luckily enough, Zulfa is negative. Zulfa has had a nasty cough over the past few months, and I had promised Mama Zulfa that I would take her to the hospital when I had the chance to get her checked out. I drove up to their house with Yvie, a volunteer who I had taken down to meet Mama Mary a couple of times, and popped in to say hello. Unfortunately for Yvie and I, Mama Zulfa had just finished cooking rice and fish, so we had to eat again. I was already stuffed from eating at Mama Mary's, so I found it really hard to eat anymore. Thankfully I know Mama Zulfa well enough to explain to her that we were both so full after eating at Mama Mary's, and we really weren't able to finish the whole bowl of rice. She was cool with it. After a little while, and waiting for Zulfa to try on about six different outfits as she new she was going into town, we headed to the hospital. I told Mama Zulfa that we wouldn't be long and that I would return her shortly. 

I took Zulfa to Selian Hospital. It's a Christian hospital, and is where Jennica had to spend a few nights last year when she was sick. I'd been there myself previously so I knew that it was good. We were seen very quickly (which makes a change here) and I spoke in length with the doctor about Zulfa and her mother's medical history. He checked her breathing etc and explained that because this cough had been going on for so long, and he could hear a lot of crackling on her chest, it was most likely that she had bronchitis. He gave us a prescription for a five day course of antibiotics, and some cough medicine to ease her coughing. We were out of there in record time, well under an hour, but I still drove back very quickly to avoid it getting dark before I drove Yvie home, I hate driving when it's dark here and the streets are still busy, it's a nightmare. After dropping Zulfa off and giving her mother some instructions for taking the medicine, I drove Yvie back home to Sakina, and then went back to mine. I knew that I was going to have a relatively long day the next day working on things in the garage, so I just went to bed early. 

Like I mentioned before, I spent the whole week sorting out the car, so I didn't have any time to organise anything to do with the projects, or even have time to pop down and visit Mama Mary. She has a phone and my number now though, and she knows that if she has any problems, she just has to call me. It wasn't until yesterday that I managed to get out and do something which I enjoyed. Adam, who I work very closely with, also works for another NGO based in Tanzania called Project Rehema. It is supported by a lady in the states, called Kelli. Every month, Adam does a food run to several families in the Monduli area. Monduli is about a forty minute drive out of Arusha, and is occupied mainly by Maasai. It's so beautiful in that area, and I jump at any chance to go over there. Firstly, Adam and I drove Bonge (my new builder) to the site where we will be building Mama Dora a new home. I explained to Bonge what I wanted doing, and he gave me a rough quote in his head. I explained that it was too much, and that he needed to write it all down for me, so that I could work out ways with Mama Dora to cut the costs of the project. We decided to drive to Monduli and drop the food off before talking to Mama Dora. We visited three families in Monduli Chini (Monduli down) and dropped off food and supplies. Project Rehema supplies the families with flour, rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, baby lotion, soap, matches and tea. Some receive small amounts of money to help them as they have extremely low incomes. I especially liked Mama Godi, who was there with one of her daughters. She was extremely grateful for us being there to deliver the food, and was also very welcoming. I haven't mentioned yet but we have decided that in August, instead of building a house, we want to do something a little more different and supply five families with five new toilets. Bad toilets here can cause a lot of health issues, especially UTI's and similar infections. Mama Godi's toilet was on of the worst I have ever seen, and through Adam I explained that in August I would be building her a new one. She was so grateful, and welcomed be back. I look forward to visiting all of the Mama's again and having some food with them. One thing which Project Rehema has done which I was very impressed with is install solar panel systems in the houses where the Mama's live. I didn't realise how simple it was, and it got me thinking about doing it for Mama Dora, I think that we will. 

After finishing in Monduli Chini, we headed to Monduli Ju (Monduli Up) to drop off food to another few families. One of the families who we dropped off food to was the family which Max and I had visited when he came over. The Mama there has a big plot of land, and hopefully one day we will be able to build a compound of houses on there and re-locate Mama's from poor housing around the area into the compound. It's far away, but we'll get there. After that Adam decided to show me a beautiful view which he knew that was close by. We drove for ten minutes in the opposite direction to the way we had came. It was exactly what I picture when I think of Africa, a rough dirt road, with loads of low lying acacia trees, a beautiful blue sky and a view for miles and miles across the vast landscape. As we drove, suddenly to my left there was a stunning view. I was blown away, and told Adam to stop the car so that I could film it. We kept driving, and eventually got to the viewpoint. I can't really put it into words, but it was by far the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. It blew me away how vast it was. What I was looking at was part of the Great Rift Valley. One of the wonders of the world, and definitely a must see. The oldest hominid footprints are found somewhere within this valley, and lots of people believe that it was indeed Tanzania where life started. I know it sounds corny but looking at somewhere like this, and thinking of our ancestors walking across it millions of years ago really gave me a strange feeling. I stared for a good twenty minutes, before Adam told me that we had to go. I wasn't too bothered, I knew that I would be going back soon now I had my car. If you ever want somewhere to take a girl on a first date, give me a shout, I'll show you the way. 

That's about it up to know, I'll post again at the end of next week to let you know how things go. I'm planning to start the project on Tuesday. I need to decide whether I will be staying in Duka Bovu or not. I would genuinely like to, but it could make some things quite difficult. I'll work it out. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


As usual, I am going to apologise for not posting for a while. I think it's been almost two weeks. There are two main reasons; 1 - Not that much has really been going on so I've found it hard to write, 2 - My computer has been playing up and hasn't been allowing me to view my blog.

The last week however, has been one of my busiest weeks so far. I'm out of my sling now, and I have no problems with doing anything physical. I can drive again, play football, pick heavy things up, and shower properly! What a relief. So, due to being fully fit, I got stuck into doing some work. The most important thing for me to get done was to set Mama Mary up with her small business. Adam and I discussed for a few days before we traveled there early last week with Bonge (who is the builder I am using now) and one of his fellow workers, I forget his name. Before all of this, as mentioned, Adam and Mama Mary had chosen a good spot for her shop, so we went there to build it. Firstly we picked up some large rounded timbers for the main support poles, and then drove down towards the site. My arm still wasn't great at that point so I didn't get stuck in with digging the holes for the foundations. It didn't really matter though, the guys got it done quickly and within two hours, it was finished. We had to buy some more timber for other parts, but it didn't cost too much. I think in total for the stand I paid around 100,000tsh which is about forty pounds. I had to be in Sakina later that afternoon, so we had to leave before we covered the top. I was going to the volunteer house to sell some bags made by the ladies working under Aubree's NGO. I didn't do too badly that night, I sold 11 of Aubree's bags and she was very pleased. Her women are making more at the moment and I will pop to the volunteer house every now and then to sell them to new volunteers.

A few days later, when the car was fixed and free, Adam, Bonge and I went down to finish the roof. We bought some tarpaulin to cover the top, this is to ensure that Mama Mary's fruit and vegetables are always sheltered from the sun and that it not too much of the wood gets wet in the night time. We finished the job off pretty quickly.

That morning and the previous few days, I had been speaking with one of the volunteers called Kennedy. She's teaching in a small orphanage in a place called Ungalelo, which is on the road leading to Moshi. Kennedy called me as she wanted some advice on building a wall and fixing a gate around the orphanage. The wall itself was already half finished, the foundations were done, and all that was needed was to finish laying some bricks and getting the gate sorted. I told her that the best idea might be to find a local builder, who was working in the area, and show him what you wanted to achieve. She did that, but when she called me that morning the quote that she had been given sounded very off. I was concerned, but not surprised, that the builder was trying to rip her off. He was trying to charge her 16,000tsh for each bag of cement instead of 15,000, and he was also telling her that bricks for 1000, they cost 700. It's a very small difference in small quantities but when you're buying in bulk you'll save cash if you were to find a better deal. I decided to take Bonge up to her placement with me, and see if he could give her a quote. We found some bricks for 750, including transport, lowered the price of the cement, lowered the labour cost, and also gave her an honest figure of how much materials she needed. We agreed on the prices, and the builders got to work the next day. I visited that day to see them start but I haven't been there since. It's finished now, but I would like to go and check it out to make sure that they did a god job. In the end, I saved them $350 or something around that. Kennedy mentioned that the girl who donated the money might be interested in donating the money saved to The House that Zac Built, but she decided against it. Fair enough.

Last friday, I visited Mama Mary with Adam, and took another volunteer with me too, a girl from London called Yvie. I wanted to show her the project. I spoke at length with Mama Mary about the business, and that she must no longer ask for support from me as I've given her everything she needs to be self sufficient. I think she got the point. She was also very excited at the prospect of having her shop start the next day. I gave her a small amount of capital, just 35,000tsh to start her business off. One thing that did concern me, was that when I went into the house, and I was showing Yvie around, there was a man asleep in one of the bedrooms. I've seen the father once before, and I'm pretty sure that it was him. I asked Adam to ask Mama Mary, she told me that it was her father and he had come to visit, but I didn't believe her. I told her that she needed to be honest with me. If you have read my blogs before you'll know that Mama Mary's husband is a drunk and has abandoned her and the children many times. I don't like him, at all, and I don't want him in the house. I built it for her, and the children, and it's not somewhere he deserves to stay. I realise that things are different here in Tanzania and if that he turns up Mama Mary doesn't really have a say in the matter, but I need to do something about it. Another problem was when I visited Mama Mary's business yesterday. Everything was going well, her shop looked relatively full and she had been getting requests already from locals to buy different things which they would like. After I left and had arrived home, she called me and asked for 3000tsh for rice. This worried me as if things were going as planned with the business she should be able to make more than this in a day. I asked Adam to call her and explain that we cannot support her anymore, and that she has the resources available to make the money. I think that the husband is around, but not showing his face much, and taking some of the money which Mama Mary is making to buy alcohol. If so, and I want to get to the bottom of this, I'll be kicking him out of the house with my own hands.

There's a couple of other things that have been going on but nothing too interesting really. I have spent the past couple of weeks looking for a car here. I decided that we need a pick up truck. They cost quite a lot of money, but they will save so much in the long term as we do more and more houses. I've had to borrow some money for it, but I will pay it off by renting it out to safari companies for a few days a month, you can make good money doing that. Things in Africa work very different to at home, when somebody says tomorrow, they mean the day after, or next week, and when somebody says meet at 10 o'clock, they mean 12. It's something which is difficult to get used to but I'm just waiting patiently for the car to arrive which I want to buy so that I can have a look at it.

Unfortunately for Adam and his family, Matasso (Adam's brother) is in prison at the moment for shooting somebody. Luckily he has a family who are well off, especially Mike, so he is taken food every day. I've been with Adam a few times to the prison but I've never gone inside. I'm not sure if I really want to. Like I said things are different here, so Adam's family has managed to arrange a deal with the guy's family who he shot. He should be out of prison soon. How about that for corruption?

Another bit of news is that we have our first fundraiser coming up next week at L'eglise restaurant in Hove. Max and his Dad have organised a deal whereby it's two courses for twenty pounds, and each ten pounds goes towards the charity. It's a great idea, and we are hoping to do similar things with restaurants all over Brighton and one day hopefully all over the country.

I'll leave it at that for now. I'm getting my car in the next couple of days, so Project Dora will be under way soon, I'll let you all know about it.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Like I previously mentioned, I really haven't done much since I've been back in Tanzania, but I'll fill you in on a few things which I have been up to. 

I've only been down to see Mama Mary twice in the two weeks which I have been back. The first time was early last week. I managed to get the courage to hop on a couple of dalla's with my arm in a sling. It wasn't too bad, just a bit painful on the bumps when we got to the bad road. However, it was definitely worth it. I always love going to see Mama Mary, she's so welcoming, and seeing the house there is nice too. They are all doing well, Vicky and Agripina are still in school and their English has improved! They need some new school jumpers and shoes though but I will buy those for them this week. Mama Mary of course wanted to cook for me but I explained to her that it's not a problem and that I would get some food at the school. I took the short walk down towards Golgotha after saying I'd see Mama Mary later on. I limit my time visiting the school nowadays, I find it quite stressful. There's simply to much to do, and without the help from the director anymore it's too hard to get it done. I couldn't take on the stuff that needs doing there with the other work that I'm doing so I find it easier to just go down every now and then. It was nice though, and I spent an hour or so with class three and taught them how to write letters. They each wrote me one saying how sorry there were about my collar bone and asking me how England was. They are all lovely things to have and I will treasure them. 

Today was the second time that I've been to see Mama Mary. I tried yesterday, but I couldn't get a car so I gave it a miss. Oh yes, I am driving now, my collar bone has been much better recently and I can do pretty much everything now without any pain! Luckily when I woke up this morning the car was free. I asked Mike if I could use it for the day and he was cool with it so I left shortly afterwards. I took it to the petrol station first and filled it was 20,000tsh (about £9) worth of diesel. I got about five minutes up the road before I was stopped by a police check point. I knew I was going to have to pay a fine but I wasn't ready for quite how much. The car I borrowed from Mike is a Toyota Landcruiser pick up truck, and it's not in the best shape. It's missing one wing mirror, it has no seatbelts, a cracked windscreen and numerous other issues. The policeman picked up on all of them, including the fact that I didn't have a fire enxtinguisher. I tried to offer him to solve the problem there and then i.e bribe him a little bit to let me go, but he wasn't having any of it, and he said that we need to go to the police station. I decided that I wasn't going anywhere without any help from some local friends so I called Adam to come and help me out. He came along pretty quickly with some other friends and they spoke to the police officer for a while. They managed to persuade him not to fine me for each offence but just for one, which I was sort of OK with, bare in mind that it's not even my car! I drove the police officer and Adam to the police station. We handed over the keys to the watch guard there whilst we went inside and paid the fine. It all went pretty smoothly but I definitely wasn't in the best of moods. When they asked me for the money I threw it down on the table and gave the corrupt officer and nice stare. She wasn't best pleased and asked Adam why I was acting like this, I didn't say anything. Just as we were about to leave, Adam started to panic and told me that we needed to leave quickly and that the head police officer was coming to check the cars. I reversed out of our space, slammed it into first but before I could get anywhere the police man shouted at us and told us to stop. I knew we were in shit when I saw him. Big old  boss bollocks strutted his stuff around the vehicle and started shouting at us immediately in Swahili. I couldn't understand a word that he was saying apart from license so I pulled it out. I hated this guy immediately. He was the typical power tripping corrupt police official wanker. He shouted at me for not having an international license, whilst Adam stood in front of the non-existent wing mirror so he couldn't see that it was missing. He told me that I would have to pay another fine on top of what I'd already paid, I couldn't do much but say yes and get on with it. But then Adam decided to go and have another word with him, he explain to him that I'd only been driving in Tanzania for a couple of weeks and hadn't realised that I needed a international license. He was a bit nicer with him, but explained that he wanted to see my passport so he could be sure of when I had entered the country. I called Jason up he was at home, and he drove over with Aubree and her sister Kelsey to drop my passport off to him. We had to wait a while, but eventually we got it done, and we were able to leave. I didn't go on with Adam, I let him take the truck home, and I went with Aubree, Jason and Kelsey for lunch. I was too pissed off to be driving anywhere. 

Once I got home from lunch, Adam was there, and we decided to go down to see Mama Mary. The main reason I wanted to go down is because I want to get Mama Mary a small business started so that she can support the family without depending on hand-outs from me. The most important thing after having a secure home is being able to support the family with food and water etc. Mama Mary decided that she would like to start selling vegetables, and have her own small shop close by to the home. We spoke about any good locations, whether there was much competition and whether Mama Mary thought she would be capable of keeping her books and making sure that she gets her margins right. She spoke about a spot which she new close by, so we decided to go and check it out. Adam advised that I didn't come, as it was likely that he would have to negotiate with somebody about renting the small bit of land, and if I was there they would have upped the price by a lot because I'm white! The spot was good, and Adam agreed on 20,000tsh for three months of rent for the small bit of land. We're going to try and get the table built tomorrow, and get down to Mama Mary's as soon as possible to get her started. I will be investing a total of about 100,000tsh in setting up a small business for her. I hope it works out! 

I really haven't done much else at all. After Mama Mary's today I drove with Adam to meet a lady who is supported my Project Rehema, a local NGO, and see where she lived. She's HIV+ and supports two kids. She's not very well so Adam likes to pop in to see her when he gets the opportunity. It was crazy driving there, the roads are so bad, and I've never done driving like it before. It was exciting but pretty difficult to control! No mistakes though which is good! 

I'll update you all in a few days and let you know how setting up the business goes. I'll be visiting Mama Dora again soon and possibly getting some quotes for the build of the next home. Please donate if you have the time!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Collar Bone

So it's been about a week since I arrived back in Africa. I'm assuming most of you know why I had to come home again last time but if not, I'll fill you in.

Once Max and I returned from our short vacation to Zanzibar, we continued with some jobs that we needed to do in Arusha. First one on the list was going to check Mama Mary's bunk bed. We drove down with Adam in the morning, and to our surprise found the bunk bed still in pieces. When Adam had dropped it off a few days before, the builder had promised to assemble it for us too. To be honest, I wasn't too fussed and I didn't mind putting it together with Max. Adam had to go back into town to do some jobs, so one of Mama Mary's neighbours came to help us set the bed up. We had one slight problem, which was that we didn't have a spanner or any tool the right size to tighten the bolts once we had put it together. We spent quite a while doing it with our fingers, and some bizzarely shaped piece of metal who the neighbour seem to be able to do it with. I got frustrated, so headed up to one of the hardware stores nearby to buy a spanner. I couldn't find one the right size, but the guy kindly lent me a pair of pliers, and those came in pretty handy. I was so relieved once we finished assembling the bed, to be honest, it hadn't really sunk in at all until I saw it there. What I mean by that is, I'd finally finished something, something I'd be working towards for a long time and a good thing too. The bunk bed finished it off for me, I was so pleased, I nearly cried. Max and I had a cigarette and a lie down, I passed out on the bed before lunch was ready, it was so comfortable!

 Mama Mary fed us with a ridiculous amount of food and both me and Max were completely stuffed afterwards. Adam turned up shortly after we had eaten, and we decided to leave there and then. Unfortunately, as Adam was pulling out of where he parked, he drove straight into an area which was completely bogged, we were stuck. We tried so many things to get us out of there; we found pieces of wood and tried to jam then under the back tyres to get some grip whilst reversing, I tried putting it in four wheel drive but the front tyres started to get stuck too, eventually we dug holes around both rear tyres and filled them with some gravel, after half an hour of digging and pushing, on a full stomach and covered in mud, we managed to get it out of there. Everybody was relieved. I told Adam that I'd drive home, so I jumped in the front and drove us back. Writing this so long after it happened, I really can't remember what we did that evening, but I'm sure it involved drinking some beers and celebrating a little bit.

The following day, Max, Adam and I drove to Duka Bovu, to have a look at another possible project. Adam, works for a local NGO called 'Project Rehema', he knew Mama Dora through his work, and knew that she needed some help with housing. Mama Dora cares for four orphans; Maria, Emmanuela, Joshua, Ezekiel and. In 2010, Mama Dora was threatened to be evicted from her home due to being unable to pay rental fees, luckily 'Project Rehema' stepped in and supported her. However due to ever rising prices in housing in Tanzania, 'Project Rehema' are unable to continue supporting Mama Dora and her family, so, she needs a new home. Max, Adam and I, firstly met Mama Dora and three of the children, and then drove to see the small plot of land which she owns. The landscape is beautiful where she lives, I love getting out of Arusha a little bit and seeing the vast plains of Tanzania. The land was the perfect size for a small project, if not a little bit too big. Mama Dora was a lot warmer to us when we met her, and I got a much better vibe from her and the children than I had in Monduli-Ju. My gut was telling me that I should go with this project if I wanted to do another one, so I pretty much decided there and then that I'd do it. Of course, I didn't say anything to Mama Dora, as I wouldn't have wanted something to go wrong and to let her down. Pretty much a team by that point, me and Max were excited at the prospect of doing another house. We headed home, and relaxed.

I've just realised that I've been blabbing on and haven't told you why I had to come home! Well, after this eventful week, I went and played football on Sunday morning, and aimed to return around mid-day to take Max to the Impala hotel to say goodbye. Unfortunately, due to a pretty clumsy tackle by the goalkeeper, I took a bad fall and land straight on my shoulder on hard ground. I felt and heard something crunch, but I really wasn't sure what I'd done. It didn't hurt too much at the start but after about five minutes I was in a lot of pain. I managed to stand up and walk off the pitch. Tom came over, and still drunk from the night before kept trying to tug on my arm, I couldn't make it any clearer that I was in pain so eventually I shouted at him and told him repeatedly to 'Fuck off' and to not 'touch me'. Eventually he got the point that I was in a bit of trouble and rang Adam to come and pick me up, I needed to go to hospital. Adam got there really quickly and got me into the car. Adam also had to get to Impala hotel for 1pm so he was driving like a maniac to ensure he could get me sorted and get back to Max in time to take him to empala. After about fifteen minutes, both of my arms had gone completely numb, and then pain had got a lot worse. I wasn't really sure what I'd done still, I just knew I needed some morphine. We got to the hospital, seeing how much distress I was in they pushed me to the front of the queue. I went straight in to see a doctor, he had look at me, asked me some questions about the fall, and was quick to assess that I'd broken my collar-bone, great. In a considerable amount of pain, and with my adrenaline going like crazy, I lost my temper a little bit when there wasn't a nurse available to give me some painkillers. I can't remember exactly what I said but I know that I offended some locals. After what felt like a lifetime but was only about five minutes,  I went to see a nurse and she gave me a shot of morphine, in my arse of course, and I felt a little more comfortable straight afterwards. I called my Mum and explained the situation and just let her know that I didn't have any travel insurance, she wasn't best pleased but just told me to keep her posted and that she'd ask some doctors from work what the normal procedure with a broken collarbone is. Before I left, I apologised to the locals who I had offended. We had to find a hospital that had an x-ray machine, so we left in a hurry and din't even pay for the morphine!

I think we had to visit about three other hospitals before we were directed to a small clinic about ten minutes away. Hidden behind the ICC building, we found this small x-ray clinic. A friendly nurse welcomed me in, and offered me a seat. Adam explained the situation to her, and explained that he had to leave, but somebody else would come to assist me and bring some of my cash so that I could pay for the x-ray. I said goodbye to Adam, and said that I'd see him soon. The nurse managed to undress me, for the x-ray, it was so painful again, I really hadn't experienced anything like it before. The doctor explained to me that he needed to x-ray me neck too, and that blows like that to the shoulder can displace disks in your neck and cause serious injuries so it needed to me checked out. I said a little prayer, I was so worried that I'd fucked my neck too. Soon after we'd finished the x-rays, Hassan arrived who is Adam's older brother. Hassan doesn't speak much English but he was really relaxed and helped me to calm down. Luckily, my neck was fine, but I had a clear break in my collar-bone and instead of being straight the thing was almost in a upside down V shape. I paid the doctor and he called a local orthopedic surgeon and arranged for me to have a meet with him. On the way to the next clinic, I decided that I was hungry and stopped to get some food from a place near the clock tower. The clock tower is where you'll find a lot of guys trying to sell things to tourists. I walked out of the car with my arm in a sling, no shoes on and covered in mud and this guy still tried to sell me a map. I couldn't believe it, but all I could do was laugh. I went inside and grabbed a sausage roll and a croissant. We arrived at the clinic and had to wait a while for the surgeon to arrive, I fell asleep on the couch there for about an hour. When he arrived he told me that he'd like to put me under anesthetic, pull my arm out, and crack the bone back into place, and then charge me 300,000tsh, about £170. I wasn't too sure, so I called home. My mother had spoken to some doctors and they said it was a bad idea. So I asked her to book me on the flight home the following night from Nairobi. Fourty-eight hours later, I was at Sussex hospital a&e, wacked out on painkillers and not really sure what was going on. The nurse had a look at my x-rays, and booked me in for an appointment at the fracture clinic the next day. They didn't do much apart from put me in a better sling and tell me that it was about a 6-8 week recovery period.

After a month at home, I decided to head back to Tanzania before my concessions ran out so I could still get a cheap flight over. I didn't do much for my first two weeks at home. I just sulked most of the time and stayed in bed but eventually I found some energy and started to get things moving with the next project. My Mum, Max and I teamed up and put the papers through for registering as a charity a few days before I left. Once those go through, it will be so much easier to raise funds and to get companies to sponsor our work. It's all pretty exciting but it's going to be a bit slow for a while.

I haven't done much this first week from being back in Tanzania. The public transport isn't the best idea with my collar-bone so I've been spending a lot of time at home, just watching DVD's and waiting to be better. I'll update you with with more info on my time here soon. I just can't get to get better and start the next project, the money is there thanks to a good friend of mine, Jordan who helped us out with £5,000. I need to get back into my sling now.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Back once again

I left Tanzania last time because I started to get a bit stressed and overwhelmed with everything here. I went home to relax, traveled a little bit in the states. Once arriving back from the states, I was eager to get back to Tanzania and do some more work. I planned everything and left within a couple of weeks. 
Luckily, my good friend Max, who volunteered and worked in Vietnam for eighteen months decided that he would like to come with me, and to see the work that I had been doing. 
After a comfortable flight in First Class on a British Airways flight (thanks), I landed in Nairobi. After weeks on end of poor weather in the UK, it was great to feel the warm air. Max was on a different flight so I waited in the airport until 4am for him to arrive. It was great to see him, and I welcomed him to Africa. 
We took a Taxi into the center of Nairobi, knowing that we had another few hours to wait until the bus left to Arusha. The hotel I usually stay in wouldn't let us leave our bags there without booking a room so we just waited outside on the steps, smoked cigarettes and chatted. 
A few hours later, we had some breakfast. Then as always, we had a bit of a nightmare getting on the bus, the usual shit. We took something to help us sleep after hours with no kip, and slept the whole way. Only waking up to get our visa's as the border. Before we knew it, we had arrived in Arusha. We were dropped off at the Impala hotel, and then took a taxi to my apartment. It was great to get back and see everybody. It's always a nice feeling going back to somewhere where everything it's familiar but still exciting. 
We settled in the apartment, sorted Max's bed out, then went out for the night, to empire for Karaoke, of course. My friend Adam and Max drank a fair bit that night and were both a bit of a mess, I was fine though, and was the designated driver. I still ended up backing into a wall which I couldn't see and smashing the rear bumper up though, oh well. Paid it off, bit of a bummer. 
The next day was great. We woke up a little late but got out of the house early and headed to Uswahilini. Of course it was lovely to go back, Mama Mary was happy as usual, she kissed and greeted us continuously. I showed Max around the project, and introduced him to everybody. The house was looking great, the vegetable garden had come a long way too, I was so happy, for the first time in a while. I agreed with Mama Mary that we would come back shortly after to have lunch, but we were going to visit the school for a bit. 
We walked down the road towards the school, the kids were on their break so they all came running up to me going crazy, it was a nice feeling. We spent a few hours at the school, meeting the new volunteers, catching up with the teachers, and of course chatting to the children. I love the fact that they are always smiling. 
After that, we headed back to Mama Mary's for lunch. We had ugali and spinach. It wasn't Max's first time having it as we had it the day before once we had arrived. The meal was good, but we couldn't finish it all, it was too much! We spent another while there, relaxing, talking and just hanging out. It feels like my home there now, I can go and lie down in the bed and feel as comfortable as I would do in my own bed. It was nice. We headed off shortly afterwards towards home, did a few things in town, and then went back to my apartment. 
That evening, on Thursday, Max, Adam and I drank at the street bar and then went to ViaVia. Unfortunately, after the street bar, it rained so heavily that we were stuck inside Adam's apartment waiting for a lift for over an hour, so we sobered up a bit before we went. The night was okay, I bumped into some people who I hadn't seen in a while, but left pretty early, wasn't feeling it too much. 
The next day was a big one. In the morning, Adam drove me and Max to Mama Mary's so that I could pay out some money to the builder to plaster the outside of the house. The original quote for all of the finishing's was too much so I knocked off a lot of unnecessary touches, and saved a good bit of money. 
Later on we drove to Sakina. I met with Nelly and Angella, the directors of TVE, the volunteer organisation that I used to go through. They helped me to find a good place to buy a double sized bunk bed for Mama Mary. We got it all sorted eventually for a good price, and they said that it would be ready by Monday. 
Then, we drove to Monduli Ju. Which is an hour and a half drive west of Arusha to meet a lady who is in desperate need of help. The scenery was beautiful, and Monduli Ju is a stunning area of the country. It's right up in the mountains, and all the land is owned by the Maasai. As we drove through, we got a lot of stares, I don't think they see many white people up there. Once we arrived at the area for the next project, Adam who knows the family through an NGO he works for, introduced us to the Mama and the man who was living with her and helping to provide. Their housing conditions were appalling, on the same scale, maybe even worse than Mama Mary's previous house. There were two small huts, housing nine people, seven children, and then adults. Unfortunately the children weren't there, but it was good to see the houses. The best bit about it, was that she owns a large bit of land. Which is perfect for the next project. I want to build a small compound, and house three or four different families in it who are in need of help too. It will help more people in a shorter space of time, and cost less. It's exciting, Max and I have lots of ideas. I won't go into them too much, but you'll hear about them soon. The Mama was a bit wary of us, I don't think she was really sure what was going on when we were wandering around and measuring here land. Next stage is to get a rough drawing of what I want the building to look like, then go back and meet some local builders to get a quote. It's a close community up there, so we are meeting with local officials to see how to cut building costs. I.e getting free labour from locals who want to live in the compound. 
On the way back, we bumped into some friend of mine, Mike (who's apartment I rent) and Wilbert who had just ran 10k's. They were having fun a drinking, so we left shortly afterwards. It was a long day, and when we got home we were both knackered.
As it didn't look like much was going to happen that weekend involving the projects, me and Max booked some cheap flights to Zanzibar for the next day. That's where we've spent the last four days. Driving around on mopeds, and chilling on the beach. We met some great people. Niki, Ruth and Will, all from London who had been volunteering in Iringa became close friends. We hung out a lot and spend most of our time with each other. It was a shame to part today, but good things will come from building those relationships. Will, was involved in investment banking and is willing to be on the board of directors once I have registered an NGO. He knows people with a lot of money, and he will be a good person to have to raise money through. 
I had a stressful day today, I won't go into it too much. I spent the majority of it in the hospital with a sick child from the school. He's okay now though, he just had bad tonsillitis, so he'll be fine!
I'll leave it at that for now, more to come. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

New Years in Lamu

After moving Mama Mary and her family in successfully on Christmas eve, I decided to have a few days away from Swahilini so that I could rest, and celebrate. I spent Christmas morning with Aubrey, Jason, Adam, Tom and Baran, who all live or work in the compound where I stay. It was lovely, we all got a present each from Aubrey and Jason, which I was extremely grateful for. I got a lovely scarf made from Maasai cloth, and a bed cover/blanket for when I go home. The blanket is really beautiful, and is made by the ladies who work with Aubrey’s NGO. Jason and Aubrey also cooked for us. It was the first typical American breakfast I’ve ever had, and I enjoyed it so much. We ate scrambled eggs, waffles, sausages, biscuits and gravy. It was a little bit weird for me as I’m usually used to smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, but it was still lovely. I headed over to the old volunteer house early in the afternoon, and spent the day there with the volunteers. Chris and I drank a lot, and then ate a lot too. Soon after, we left for Babylon, where we drank more and danced more. I was so tired by midnight that I had to call it a day, so I went home and crashed. On boxing day I didn’t really do much apart from lie in bed, and then I went and watched the football. But I was tired again early on, so I didn’t have a mental one.
The following Friday, I popped down to Swahilini to see Mama Mary and the kids. Lukas, a friend of mine who lives close by came along with me, and we spent a couple of hours there. I wasn’t feeling too good, so I didn’t eat. I let them know that I was leaving for Mombassa that Saturday and that I wouldn’t see them for a week or so. I let them know that my Mum and Terry were arriving in Arusha on the 4th, and that we would visit them on Saturday the 5th.
I had to leave for Mombassa early in the morning, so I took it easy the night before. Five am starts are never nice. I got on the bus in time, and wondered how I would manage a long bus ride with no Ipod once again. The journey turned out to be fine, I had to buy another Kenyan visa at the border which was annoying, but I got there safe which was the main thing. The scenery on the way was amazing. After crossing the border, we drove for two hours on a dirt road, through the bush. Unfortunately, I didn’t see many animals on the way apart from a couple of big birds, but it was still nice. Once we got back on to a decent road, I managed to get a couple of hours kip, and before I knew it we had arrived in Mombassa.
My first impressions were good ones. It was a busy, loud, vibrant and energetic place. I had spoken briefly with the bus driver on the way, so I asked him the best way to get to Bondeni, which was where I would be meeting Ren and Holly from Australia, and where the bus to Lamu would leave from in the morning. He kindly waved down a tuc-tuc for me, and told the driver where I needed to go. The tuc-tuc ride was wicked, I was buzzing. I love getting to a new place and really feeling the madness of another African city. The driver was pretty chaotic, but I didn’t mind. He swerved in and out of traffic and cut in front of about five cars, but oh well, it was a great way to see a little bit of the city. He dropped me in Bondeni and pointed to a hotel, and said that I could stay the night there. I paid him, and then looked at the front of the hotel. I can’t remember the name, but it said ‘luxury’ somewhere in the middle of it, so I didn’t even bother going inside. I walked up a little side road, and looked around for signs to a hostel. I found one within a few metres. There was a guy sitting outside drinking tea, so I asked him if he owned the place. He knew I was from England straight away from my accent, as he had lived in Bristol for eight years, but was now back in Mombassa. His name was Adam, and I knew straight away that he was a decent bloke. The guest house which he was sitting outside of was full, so he took my across the road to another one. I had two options, pay 200 Kenyan Shillings, which is about £1.50, and share a room with somebody I didn’t know, or pay 600 for a room with three beds which I would have for myself. I opted to the three roomed one, as I wasn’t sure I could trust whoever I would be sharing the room with. It was a decent room, with a nice balcony looking out onto the main road. I thanked Adam, and told him that I would see him in a while. I used the toilet, which was quite an experience, but one that I won’t go into, and then had a shower. My stomach wasn’t feeling too great, and hadn’t been for a few days, but I felt fresh after my shower, so I headed across the road to meet Adam. I sat with him, and spoke about what I had been doing for the past couple of years, my project in Arusha, and my plans for the near future. He was a smart guy, and we shared ideas about possible business opportunities in East Africa. I had some tea, but opted for the one without camel milk in. I usually like trying things like that but my stomach really wasn’t feeling up to it. We also spoke about how dangerous Mombassa has been over the past couple of years, and why there weren’t many tourists there anymore. It was scary tobe in a place so notoriously dangerous for terrorist attacks and kidnappings of foreign nationals, but I got a buzz of it, and just made sure I had my flip knife on me all of the time. I told him that I wanted to change some money, and that I was hungry too. We hopped in a tuc-tuc and he took me to meet a friend of his who would give me a good exchange rate. It was very good rate, and I thanked him for that. Changing money in Mombassa and Kenya in general is a little different to at home. There aren’t many legit places to do it, so you have to go up to guys on the street, who are all holding big wads of cash, and bargain with them to get an a good rate. Luckily I didn’t have to bargain, and I had no problem changing some Tanzanian shillings over to Kenyan ones. Shortly afterwards, we went for some food at a local restaurant. I ate a beef sandwich and shared some chips with Adam, smoked a couple of cigarettes and then headed to the internet café to check my emails. I was so tired after my journey that I decided to go to bed at about eight thirty. I said good bye to Adam and agreed to meet him once I was back in Arusha. I went up to my room, tried to read a little but I was too tired, so I went to sleep. I was excited to see Ren, Holly and their friends from Australia in the morning.
I think partly because the fact that I had gone to bed so early, and also that I was excited to see some old friends, I woke up very early, around four thirty. I didn’t mind too much though, because I knew that Holly, Ren and friends would be arriving around five. They had flown into Nairobi the day before, but had to get a night bus to Mombassa as Travis had booked a later flight, so they waited around for him. I sorted my things out for the trip to lamu, arranged cash, and made sure that I had everything with me which I needed. All sorted and anxious to get going, I popped out on the balcony for a cigarette. Below me I spotted a three young white people, one blonde girl, another girl who was a brunette and a young guy too. I knew straight away that it was Ren and Holly. I called out relatively quietly at first, as I didn’t want to wake other people in the hostel up, but they didn’t hear me, so I shouted. They looked up and saw me, I waved and told them it was me. I told them to wait there and that I would be down in a second, I had a massive smile on my face, it was so good to see them. I went downstairs, gave Holly and Ren a big hug, and met Calum for the first time, who is Holly’s boyfriend. I asked where the others were, they said just across the road, so we headed over. It was good to meet Nick, Rens boyfriend, and Travis their friend too! I told them that they were welcome to come up to my room whilst we waited for the bus, so that they could have a quick shower, brush their teeth, and settle a little bit. They got their things together, and we all chatted for a half hour or so. I knew Calum, Nick and Travis were safe guys straight away, but then again I wouldn’t expect Holly and Ren to be going out with a couple of plonkers! We went downstairs after a bit to get some breakfast. We got some tea, and mandazi, then headed to the bus. It was a rough ride to Lamu, and it took a good eight hours. The road was so rough, it was impossible to sit still, as we were constantly being thrown around. It was entertaining to an extent, but also annoying as it was hard to get any sleep. I managed to get an hour or so, so I could drain out the sound of the annoying American’s behind us complaining about the road. I was thinking ‘you’re in Africa for god’s sake, if you expect there to be perfect roads everywhere, you may as well go home’. Travis and I shared his ipod, and he introduced me to a band from Australia who I’ve never heard before. They are called Tame Impala, I’m sure plenty of you know about them, I’m pretty out of touch with new music etc. We got there eventually, it was a big relief. Ren had sorted out accommodation in Lamu, but wasn’t exactly sure of the details, and just had the number of a guy called Clinton, who we were meant to call once we arrived in Lamu. To get to Lamu, you have to take a boat from the mainland of Kenya, which is right up near Somalia. We opted for the public one which was much cheaper than using people with private boats. I wasn’t sure whether it was too good of a decision when about fifty people and a lot of luggage was piled into a small wooden boat with a 20cc engine. The scenery wasn’t quite as beautiful as I had pictured, but pulling into Lamu was very nice. We found out that we were staying in Shella, which was about a ten minute boat ride from Lamu town, but we decided to hang around a bit and get some things done whilst we were there. We bought alcohol in preparation for new years, as you couldn’t buy it in Shella, then got some cash, and headed to Shella. We met a local guy called ‘Boss’ who deals with tourists in Lamu and Shella. He took us on his boat for a cheap price, and dropped us off, where Clinton was there to greet us.
Clinton walked us to the hotel, and it turned out that there were only two rooms available that night and not three, so he moved two double beds into one room, and we would have to squeeze in there for the night. We didn’t do much that evening apart from have a little walk around, and go for some food. We had to wait about an hour and a half for our food, which really annoyed me. I get grumpy when I’m hungry or tired. So when I’m both of those and have to wait a ridiculously long time for a simple meal, it really gets on my nerves. All the others laughed at how agitated I was getting. The food came eventually, and it was decent, but not worth the wait. I was full afterwards, so I just sat with Travis and a local guy and tried to learn a local board game which they play all over Lamu and Shella. It’s called Boaw game, which means ‘wood game’, and it’s extremely complicated. I won’t go into detail with it because quite frankly I still have no idea how it works. The others went to bed, and me and Travis went and got a beer at a local bar. The place was full of toffs. English toffs, Italian toffs, and worst of all, French toffs. We left after one beer as we couldn’t stand the place. Sleeping that night wasn’t easy, it was so humid, and with no fan and four people in one relatively small room made it pretty uncomfortable.
The following day was new years day. We were all up pretty early, so we got some local breakfast from just downstairs. Which consisted of fried potatoes, chipati, mandazi and samosa’s as well if you fancied beef first thing in the morning. After that, we headed to the beach, and found a nice spot to chill. It was really quiet, and a nice way to spend the morning. After having a little swim, I went for a walk on my own, and after wandering over the sand dunes, I spotted a really nice Acacia tree right at the top of the dune. I headed back to the others to tell them about it, and said that we should go and chill up there. They all agreed, so we headed up. Getting there was hard, it was all uphill, and although it was only about nine in the morning, the sand had already heated up. I tied my t-shirt around my head and started to do some Bear Grylls impressions on the way up, Travis and I ran most of the way, so we were both really out of breath when we got to the top. It was a great spot, it was in the shade, and right at the top of all of the dunes so the views were amazing. We chilled there for an hour or so, and debated whether to all have a sleep before heading back. But we had run out of water, so we walked back to the apartment and relaxed there for a bit. We ordered a shit load of samosa’s and then started drinking at around five. We all sat on our Varanda, listened to music, drank a load of spirits and then headed out to where the party on the beach was at about ten. It was a wicked night, we danced and drank a lot, and after chilling at the first party for a few hours, we headed over to another island just opposite to Shella, where there was a fire and more music. I was a gonner by then so I don’t remember too much, I just know that it was good. Forgive me!
I remember waking up pretty early the next morning, although it was the first time me and Trav had our own room and didn’t have to share with Nick and Ren, I still didn’t sleep very well. I got some breakfast, and waited for the others to wake up, and then I headed down to the beach. It was the annual sailing boat race on New Year ’s Day, which was good to watch. As you can imagine, the boats in Lamu and Shella aren’t very modern, but never the less, they are all beautiful. I didn’t see much of the race, just the start. I was surprised how much speed the guys could get on the sail boats, considering that they were all pretty old boats, I guess they had been practising all year! I had gone back to the room to use the toilet before that, so I ended up losing all of the others. The beach was packed, but after walking along it for twenty minutes or so, I found them. I swam a little, and then ended up playing a game of football on the beach with Travis, Nick, Callum and some local kids. Although we lost, it was a good game. I had managed to sweat most of my hangover out, but decided that I wanted to play some more football, so walked along the beach a little bit, and played possession football with some local guys in front of the bar full of Toff’s. It was good fun, a fast pace, and pretty challenging physically. The whole time we were playing, there was a local guy, stood up on his speed boat about ten metres off the shore, blasting music out of a massive sound system on his boat. He stood on one of his speakers for around hours and danced by himself, it was entertaining to say the least. Everybody was loving it though, and some of the guys I was playing football with would stop every now and then to dance a little bit. Different world.
It got to about half three in the afternoon, and I was feeling tired, the sore feet from playing on the sand didn’t help either. I went and found the others, who were still on the beach, but sitting in the shade now. There was a local football match on at 4.30, on a full size pitch. We decided to go along, I wanted to play but my feet were feeling so sore, that I wasn’t sure if it was a great idea, I didn’t have any shoes either which didn’t help. I played in the end anyway, I couldn’t resist, it was a nice pitch, and the players were decent. I played for about fifty minutes on the left wing, created a few chances and had a shot on goal, and then played centre forward for my last ten, but I didn’t do too great. My feet killed afterwards, and I could hardly walk, but I still managed to do something that night! We headed to Lamu to go to a restaurant which Sabrina, a neighbour of ours where were staying, had recommended. It turned out to be shit, they had nothing on the menu, and the waiter was useless. When I went to the bathroom, I walked past a guy eating rice and beans with his hand, even though he had a spoon next to his plate. I couldn’t quite get my head around it, I just thought it was one of those backwards things you always seem to see in Africa, but apparently, Muslims are encouraged to eat with their hands, so that was why. We had decided to go on a boat trip the next day. We agreed on 1500 Kenyan shillings each, which is about a tenner! That would involve fishing, snorkelling on the reefs, and eating lunch on the boat.
We were up early to be on the boat by about 8 30am the next morning. It turned out not to be the guys who we thought we had organised it with, but some other amateurs. That was the start of a chain of events which really pissed me off. Our boat, typically, didn’t have an engine, but we were told that we would be towed through the channel, until we could sail to the reef, and that it wouldn’t take much time. Luckily, the boat which was towing us, ran out of petrol, and bailed on us, we managed to sail up to the channel, but once we got there, there was no way of getting up it about from the crew using sticks to push down into the sand and push us along, it took about two hours. Within those two hours, probably about fifteen boats sped past us and denied us a pull. Eventually, one kind rasta dude, towed us up to the channel, but it was too late really, we were already about three hours behind schedule, and I was starting to wonder if we would get to do any snorkelling. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be paying the full amount when we arrived home. The boat crew managed to get us to the reef eventually, after struggling to get around a small island, which was above sea level due to low tide. They really didn’t know how to work as a team together, and at times, it was quite embarrassing to watch, all the others were managing to laugh at it, which I’m usually good at too, but I just couldn’t that day. We got to the reef, and to our surprise, there weren’t enough masks for everybody. They had to go and borrow a couple from another boat, so poor Hemma, a PHD student from Bristol who we had met on New Year’s, and her father Neil, who was born in Tanzania, but now lived in Canada, and was visiting where he was born for the first time in fifty years, had to wear masks that didn’t fit them, and didn’t have the best time snorkelling at all. Another issue, was that it was low tide, so you couldn’t actually swim over any of the reefs, just by the side and at the end of it. Also, due to us being so behind schedule, we had to leave after about twenty minutes, and look to catch some fish. The guys hadn’t thought to buy some from the market with the deposit we gave them the day before, so we were all a little worried when it was nearly four o’clock, and we didn’t have anything to eat apart from rice and veg. Whilst they were supposedly catching fish, and by this I mean buying it from another boat that pulled up, we chilled out in some shallow pools on another island, and found some pretty shells. At around five, the food was eventually ready, and I was in the worst mood possible. I hadn’t eaten since the morning, the portion wasn’t particularly big, and we started to sail whilst we were eating. We made a bet on who would be the first one to throw up. The sail back to Shella was the nicest part, we watched a beautiful sunset, and I chatted to one of the guys on the boat about football. He had been scouted by Malaga when he was thirteen, and was told by the club to finish his education before returning. He had finished a few months before, and was waiting to hear from the club. I wished him the best of luck and then got off the boat. We headed home straight after, all pretty tired, and got ready for the journey the next day. We were going back to Mombassa.
I can’t remember what I did the night before leaving, so it can’t have been very exciting. I think we all had a few beers on our roof top terrace, and then all went to sleep pretty early. It was an early start, we had to be on the bus by 8am, which meant we needed to be up around 6 30am. I was up in time, and got my things together quickly, as I hadn’t properly packed the night before. I was walking around in my jeans in the morning, and kept getting a wiff of this foul smell, and I couldn’t work out where it was coming from. I kept smelling myself in different places, and also different surfaces, to see where it was coming from. Eventually, I worked out that it was my jeans. They stank of something so bad, but I had no idea what it was. Conveniently it was right on my backside, so I had to work out if I’d managed to shit myself in the night or something. It was all clear though, but I got Calum to take a sniff of my jeans, and he said straight away, ‘donkey piss’. Typical, I’d sat in donkey piss somewhere the day before and it had dried and gone horrid on my jeans. I took them off, wrapped them in a plastic bag, and put on some shorts for the journey. All my clothes were either dirty, or damp and covered in sand. I was in for an uncomfortable journey. We took the boat over to the Jetty where the bus leaves from, and realised that we had some time. So we sat on the jetty and ate some breakfast. My stomach hadn’t been too good for the past few days, hence the worry of dropping my guts in the night, so I decided that it would be best to go to the loo before I got on an eight hour bus ride. I walked over to the toilet, and I won’t say that I was appalled, just more shocked to see the state of it. I can’t quite put it into words. It was merely a hole in the ground, filled with faeces, empty water bottles, condoms, and god knows what else. I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to use this toilet, and that I needed to find somewhere else. I showed the toilet to Ren, Holly and Calum, just so they could experience what I had previously. It was funny to see their faces. I asked a guy if there was a toilet in the café, but he said no, as part of it was a mosque. He said he would take us to a place, which sounds a bit weird, but I think he understood that the state of the toilet was too bad for a lot of people to use. We walked behind the mosque, and I say this with confidence, it was hands down the dirtiest place I’ve ever seen/been. The marsh land was covered in garbage, there was a puddle waste with a toxic colour, it stank, and to add to the occasion, there was a small boy taking a dump about five metres away from us, all very casual, and just behind the mosque. It was strange for me, I’d never seen anything like that before, but it put into context the problems that Africa has to face with clean sanitation, and infected water sources. It’s a big issue to tackle, and it needs fixing, but to be honest with you, it’s not one that I’m interested in. The guy continued to show us where we could use the toilet, we walked past the filthy area, and a little further down the beach. He pointed into the marshes, and told us that it was okay to go in there. It wasn’t great, but better than the toilet. I wasn’t too comfortable going there, and my stomach was really playing up, but I managed. I had to deal with two local guys laughing at me whilst they watched me shit through the trees. They were getting stoned, and asked me if I wanted to smoke with them after I’d finished, I turned it down though, laughed the last few minutes off, and headed onto the bus.
The road, as before, was terrible, and I wasn’t able to sit still for the whole journey. I bounced about with my t-shirt covering my face trying to sleep for about eight hours, before we arrived in Mombassa. I had told the others about my friend Adam who I had met a few days before in Mombassa. I found him, in the same place as last time, and asked him to help us find a hostel again. We had some tea, and then booked into a hostel close by. It was a different one to last time. I had a problem with the lock on my door, so I tried not to pay full price for the room, but the guy wasn’t having any of it, and we needed a place to stay, so I forgot about it. We went and got some dinner, then took a short walk down to an old fort close by. It was beautiful, it was just a shame that it was night time, as we couldn’t really see much. We sat on an old cannon, and looked out towards the harbour. Mombassa has the biggest port in East Africa, it was interesting to watch a couple of the huge shipping boats leave the harbour. After an hour or so, we headed back to the hostel. I went across the road and used the internet for ten minutes. I had some messages that I needed to reply to, and I also wanted to check if I’d had any donations. I headed to my room, lay down, and fell asleep soon afterwards. I was looking forward to seeing my Mum and Terry the next day in Arusha. At about midnight, my phone rang, and I was surprised to see that it was my mother calling. I answered suspiciously, she asked me, ‘Where are you?’, I replied, ‘I’m in Mombassa, what do you mean?’. It hit me then, I had messed the dates up by a day, and then had just arrived in Arusha. Half asleep I carried on talking to my Mum and apologised repeatedly. She said that it was okay, but they just needed to find a way to check into a hotel. I thought about calling Mike and asking if he could sort something out so that they could stay in my apartment. But I thought best not to bother him late at night, and just told my mum that she should take a taxi into town, and find a decent hotel, and that I would see her the next day. I was so angry at myself. I had been looking forward to greeting them at the airport for a while. It’s always been my Mother there to greet me, and for once in my life, it was going to be my turn to welcome her to where I was living, and I had fucked it up. I was so tired, and upset too, that I went back to sleep shortly afterwards, and hoped that they would be okay. I woke up the next morning in a foul mood, and just wanted to hurry up and get back to Arusha. We got aboard the bus at 7am, and left Mombassa shortly afterwards. I slept a little bit on the journey, but spent most of the journey thinking about the night before. I got a text from my mother a few hours before I crossed the border, but I didn’t have enough money to reply. As soon as we’d crossed the border, I bought some credit for my Tanzanian number, and called her straight away. She wasn’t best pleased, but the main thing was that they had got to a hotel safely, and managed to find somewhere to sleep. I told her that I was expecting to be back in Arusha at around 4pm, and that I would go straight to the hotel which I had booked them into a couple of weeks before.
 We arrived in Moshi, a town just outside of Arusha on time, and I started to get excited again to see my Mum and Terry. However, once again, something else went wrong. There had been a huge crash on the main road leading into Arusha, a big lorry had lost control and turned over on one of the bridges, blocking the way on both sides. We had to take a detour, and after about twenty minutes, we were stuck in a horrific traffic jam on a dirt road. Every car that I had been told they had to go another way, had decided to take this route. This road, which would usually not have many cars going down it, was completely blocked with all of the traffic coming into, and trying to go out of Arusha. Coaches, lorries, public buses and cars completely overwhelmed this small road, and nobody was getting anywhere. It was a clear example of how the Tanzanian government need to sort out the roads in their country. They have the money, but it’s so corrupt, that most of it goes into officials pockets. How could one crash bring all of the city’s traffic to a standstill? After sitting on the bus for thirty minutes, a Boda pulled up next to us, so I decided to bail on everybody and jump on the back of the motorbike. I spent a little while haggling with the driver over the price, and eventually decided on a fair one, and I was on my way. It was a sketchy ride to say the least, I almost slipped off a couple of times as we weaved in and out of still traffic, and had to drive in ditches as there was no other way to pass. After about twenty minutes, we were clear from the blocked road, and my driver accelerated quickly along a dirt road. The scenery was amazing, I had no idea where I was in Arusha, and although I had become agitated with the journey, I felt like it was all worth it to see how rich and beautiful some of the land around the city is. We came across a little more traffic, but managed to get through it, and then we were back on the main road. I wasn’t sure which side of the crash we were on, but I found out soon enough. As we came over a hill, I looked down and saw the enormity and severity of the crash which had caused the problems. A petrol tanker had flipped around once, and landed back on its wheels, but it had turned 180 degrees and blocked the whole road. We approached with caution, there were lots of people around, some stood on the road, and some stood up on the hills, looking down on the accident. I told my driver to wait for one minute, I needed to get a picture of this. I got a couple, but soon enough I was being shouted at by locals, so I jumped back on the bike and we headed towards the crash. It was amazing, tragic too of course, but I had never seen something like that before in my life. Luckily there were no other cars involved, so it didn’t look like there had been any fatal accidents. The driver was lucky he hadn’t broken the barriers at the side of the bridge, and gone over the edge, it was a big drop. The driver, argued with locals as they told him that he wouldn’t be able to get passed, but he managed somehow. We drove along the footpath at the side of the bridge, I was a little worried that it wasn’t built to hold a motorbike with two people on, but we got to the other side safely. I jumped off the bike and told him that I would meet him up the road, I wanted another picture. I got a quick one, with a police officer in it too. He wasn’t best pleased, so when he started to wave his batten and shout at me, I was back on the bike quicker than last time. We drove up the hill and away from the crash, I looked back down at it, still amazed, but now relieved also that I would see my Mum soon. The driver dropped me off near to the hotel, and I walked the rest of the way, I was filthy. I found the room which they were staying in, and headed upstairs. It was lovely to see them, I had been waiting for ages. I apologised about the night before again, and we managed to have a laugh about it. I chatted about the crash, my holiday in Lamu, and we arranged a little plan of what we could do for the next few days. My journey was over, it had been a great one, eventful to say the least, and now I was back at what I can now call home, I was happy to be there.