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'
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'