This has been a slow month due to the fact we had no timber for the administrative bldg. trusses. So the villagers cut down around 100 trees and now the work has begun. In one of the pictures you will see two young boys wearing hard hats carrying a timber. My foreman, Fredy Mbilinyi, has hired some young students from a local vocational school to assist in the work. These two boys are orphans and told Fredy they would like to live in the orphanage we are building. I think they like Uhekule village. The school they board at is in Njombe. Their labor is cheap, and they work hard. They are learning to be carpenters, so helping with this orphanage gives them training and experience. I have two experienced builders besides Fredy.
If you notice the wooden banda (shack) in the background, this is where the 9 workers sleep on the ground…not exactly the Holiday Inn. The evenings are now very cool as this is the fall season, so they have a wood fire going all night. The smoke is terrible, but the wind whips through the small openings between the timbers. They don’t seem to mind. They cook ugali and beans most everyday. The government of Tanzania has declared for every tree cut down, two must be planted. Not sure if this rule is followed.
This is still a big problem not only in my village but also in the region. Last year we had 32 die from AIDS that we know of in Uhekule. Others that passed away may also have been victims of the virus, we don’t know. Our village has a population of 1,400. Two weeks ago we had two nurses come to Uhekule to do free testing. Of the 210 that went for voluntary testing, 26 new cases were identified. This is very upsetting for all of us.
Tomorrow I take the long, 12 hour bus ride to Dar es Salaam. I plan to meet a man in Dar that will give me information on solar power. Then next Tuesday I fly to the U.S. to see family and friends. When I return to Dar on June 1st., I will travel back to my village and, no doubt, the roofing will be done and the foundations for the dormitories started. Unfortunately, we ran out of bricks, so the villagers will start making them in June after the rainy season ends and winter begins.
I must confess that my work here is exciting, fascinating and fulfilling. I continue to feel God’s presence almost daily. When problems occur or obstacles appear, the answers eventually come from Him. Why is it I never felt His presence in the U.S. like I do here?
Not all is perfect. I do have my moments when I am completely perplexed with the Tanzanian culture and wonder “what the heck am I doing here?” But those feelings pass after a good nights sleep.
I hope to see some of you in May in the U.S.. If you have questions or wish to talk with me, just give me a call, but I will be traveling by car most of the time and fly out of Minneapolis May 31st.
Keep safe and God’s blessings to all of you. Without your support, this project would not exist.
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