Wednesday, June 4, 2014
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Charlotte O’Neal
I am here in Arusha at UAACC (United African Alliance Community Center) which has been a free school and a source of free water for almost forty years and an orphanage for twenty-five children for the last seven years and continuing. The road to get here is over lava rock and you can barely go one kilometer an hour in some places and never over five kph. It is a bad road, but we can always get there. Sometime back, a friend of Pete’s asked him what he needed most, a good road, or a well for the villagers. He picked the well and the villagers have been getting their water there ever since. The road is still horrible, but every time I ride over it, I remember all the women and children gathered at the well getting their water every day and it makes all the bumps go away. Pete has no source of regular funding, and like us, relies on groups coming and small contributors to keep the orphanage going, the kids fed, and the school in operation. He gets many volunteers from the U.S. who come to donate their time and skills to teach everything from English to architecture and more. Most of the volunteer teachers are young and from the U.S. but some are from here in Tanzania. They give of themselves for no money, no reward except for the love and gratitude of their students. The quote above is very apt for as I talk to these volunteers, they are filled with hope. They are very realistic about the size of the problems they face, but they know that they can make good things happen. I was talking today to a volunteer teacher who is recent graduate of William and Mary in Virginia—a very upscale school. She told me the first thing she learned here was how little she really needed to be happy. She works for AIDS education, and I am hoping I can get her to come to Bunda for a bit to teach some of our folks how to do what she does. She is studying to be a Nurse Practitioner, so she can come back to Tanzania to do what she can to reduce the number of deaths around childbirth, particularly Caesarian births. She is the kind of woman I would be proud to have as a daughter, and I hope she is just one example of a new generation of college graduates who see making good things happen for others as a guiding light in their lives. The picture to the right is of the music group for the celebration for a volunteer English teacher who is going back to the States to raise enough money to come back and work for another year. The woman in yellow with the drums is Charlotte O’Neal, Pete’s wife. Just being here is like having therapy and being reminded that doing what you can, where you can, with what you have for other people is what we are all called to do. It is also very nice that my wife returns from her six-week visit to the States here, tonight. This is the first place she came on her first visit to Africa in 2003. A lot has happened since.