13I Head West

19th July 2013

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Last Saturday Echo's 1, 2 and 3 went their separate ways taking bumpy rides on local buses down the long dusty roads to make planning visits to their project sites. I headed out West to the baron central region to pay a brief visit to Charlie One, another Raleigh group where the project has been up and running for 3 weeks in the village of Chipanga.

This group is in the same region as Echo 1 and Echo 2 groups and also working with the same grass roots Tanzanian NGO, MAMADO. As the groups will be doing similar projects around water and sanitation, I thought it would be great to report back so you have an idea of what the Echo projects might look like once they are established.

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As I arrived at camp I found volunteers, Sinde and Sidney, teaching the local children rugby. I was moved by the strong relationship they had already formed with the children, the community and each other. As the sun set over Chipanga, there were many happy faces and laughter as they learned to play the great British sport. There was an equal mix of international and Tanzanian volunteers, as is the norm for Raleigh ICS projects. Already there was a sense of unity here, which to me represented what the Raleigh spirit is all about; a global community working together, learning from each other and enjoying each other's company.  

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The following day was Sunday and we were welcomed at the local church service.This was a great way to meet the community and the singing was inspiring.  Integrating into the community is an important part of the project as the groups work alongside the community members on all aspects of the programme. Monday morning was back to work at the project sight. Here, Charlie One were working hard to build much needed toilets for the local school. The UK volunteers explained how they had been talking with the local community (with assistance from the in-country volunteers) to find out the needs of the community. They found that many of the deaths in the community were related to diarrhoeal diseases (often caused by poor water supply and sanitation) so Charlie One were planned to go into the local school and community to teach the children and young people a Swahili song they had made all about hand hygiene. They were also introducing the community to a 'tippy tap' which is a simple yet ingenious invention for cleaning hands that is easily made out of everyday items. Some of the Echo teams will also be introducing these, so I'll tell you more about them in a later blog.

 

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 The local school join in with Charlie One's song that is all about hand hygiene. 

After a long hot day of work I left with a very thirsty Charlie One to find water. Rachel, one of the volunteer venturers, explained to me that the water supply for the whole village is one tap that is kept under lock and key. Villagers pay a fee to access the water and this money is used to maintain the water supply. The village is spread over a vast dry terrain and many people have to walk for miles each day to access this. Rachel went on to say that Chipanga was one of the more fourtunate villages - as I was about to learn.

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The next day I drove back East to catch up with Echo Two at the village of Mpalanga, where they were doing a project visit to the sight where they will be based. I found them dry heat of the afternoon sun.  Paul (Volunteer Manager) updated me and explained 'We were warmly welcomed up the  village leaders, but we were shocked by the quality and quantity of water that the villagers have to currently use. There is a real opportunity here to help empower the community to make a difference to their quality of life. It will definitely be a challenge but we will give it everything we got' 

 

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Tabi, Paul and Ollie led me down to the only water source in the village of an estimated 4,000 people. We walked over a bridge where there was once a river but now consisted of dry sand. After a long walk in the scorching heat, Echo 2 showed me to 'the water hole', where once a river flowed. The water was the colour of bleach and was a somber sight. Having spent the last couple of days in Chipanga where I felt so welcomed by the local people, it was devastating to see this hardship. It really struck me the contrast between the lives of the people here and what I am used to being 'normal' back home. It was a sobering moment after seeing all of the achievements and unity of the previous days but exciting to think about the change that is about to take place. Tabi explained that the school had 2 rain water harvesting tanks for the children, but when this runs dry, the only source of water was the 'water hole'. Tabi was reassured that there would be enough clean water for Echo 2 while they worked hard to lay water pipes to greatly improve this situation. This project will be a challenge but it is certainly much needed.

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As the sun set over the villages we had visited, we headed back to Morogoro to prepare for the arrival of the venturers. The team are really looking forward to meeting the venturers and to getting them ready for a big challenge, which we hope will change many peoples lives, including their own...

 

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