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Module 3: WHAT FOR?

(Page 28) Resource sheet 6

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HE WENT TO HELP

For two months in 1990 I had the unforgettable experience of living in a small Tanzanian village, Tunguli. I was one of only two 'Westerners' there.

I had felt a calling for a long time to use my training as an engineer for development work and here was my first chance. I was a 'partner in development' in a small village health centre established and run by the Anglican church in the nearest town, 180 kms away. The clinic was conceived as an expression of God's care for the people of Tunguli and I felt privileged to be a channel of this care through helping to set up water and electricity supplies for the clinic.

It is hard to describe how it felt to be completely stripped of the infrastructure we are used to in Europe - roads, communications, a ready supply of materials, information, power, easy food, piped water. Here was life at its most basic.

My first job in the village was to work with a team of skilled local builders to construct ten water tanks to harvest the plentiful rainfall. As a result the village women would no longer have to spend several hours each day carrying water from the village well up to the clinic. Men and women worked hard in all weather conditions - burning sun, torrential rain, early morning cold. Children spent all day crushing rocks with hammers and men supplied the workers with bananas, sugar cane and sweet potatoes from their fields.

In Tunguli I experienced Tanzanian hospitality and welcome in a new way. In a village where famine is a constant threat and malnutrition ever present, it meant immeasurably more to me to receive gifts of fruit, chickens, eggs and beans than it could ever mean to receive the most expensive gifts back home.

However little we thought we possessed, we were living like kings in comparison with those around us. We had a limited supply of power, courtesy of a solar battery charger. This allowed us a short period of radio/tape use and a few hours of light at night to read. How much we take for granted!

Most of all, we take survival for granted. The other job I undertook was the installation of a solar-powered blood and vaccine fridge. The Tanzanian doctor in charge of the clinic has estimated that this will help them to cut infant mortality significantly, perhaps by 95 per cent.

My year in Tanzania seemed to strengthen and confirm the calling I feel to overseas development. Now I intend to get further gualifications in energy technology with a view to returning to the 'two-thirds' world with more to offer.

by Peter Baynard Smith from 'For A Change'

 

R1-M3-PAGE 28

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