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.