For us 2013 began with a break away from the heat and humidity of Dar es Salaam as we spent New Year in Iringa in Tanzania's Southern Highlands.
We stayed in a small banda at Rivervalley camp site well outside of Iringa town and particularly as we were nearly the only guests, it was about as peaceful as you could wish for.
The main activity from the camp site is walking along the river and up into the hills. This was certainly livened up by using some of the local "footbridges" which the kids had to cross several times to ensure they worked!
It also gave us a chance to see first hand the work done by one of the organisations that MAF serve by providing international flights and logistics assistance. Run by the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Neema Crafts operate a number of different craft workshops, a cafe and a guest house all staffed by local people with differing disabilities. In particular we can vouch for the cafe, where the staff who are all deaf, serve great food, awesome milkshakes and home made ice cream, all in an atmosphere where everyone is laughing.
It was really valuable for us to get away from Dar and remind ourselves what a beautiful country Tanzania is.
However even through the spectacular landscapes of the national parks and rain forests there are constant reminders of how hard life is for many ordinary Tanzanians.
According to a recent report from the UK Department for International Development " although Tanzania is no longer one of the five poorest countries in the world, as it was in the 1980s, it is still in the bottom 25. 80% of the population (34 million people) live on less than £20 a month and 34% (15 million people) live on less than £7 a month, which means that they cannot buy essential goods such as soap and clothes. The needs remain huge: only 34% of children enrol in secondary school, over 30 million people use inadequate sanitation, 42% of all children are stunted through chronic malnutrition, natural resources are over exploited, it is one of five countries in the world with the most malaria deaths and one woman in every 25 will die in childbirth. Tanzania‟s size, its poor infrastructure and a rapidly expanding population present serious challenges to providing basic services equitably across the country"
This last point was illustrated on our journey just outside of Iringa where there is a steep winding pass which forms part of the main truck route between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya. Very few heavy trucks and buses are maintained at all in Tanzania and so the pass was littered with the wrecks of various vehicles. On our way to Iringa the truck pictured below had clearly recently crashed. The cab was badly damaged and the crew of the truck were sat at the side of the road obviously trying to protect it and it's cargo from thieves.
Six days later the truck was still there - the cab had been hit several more times and was completely crushed, the crew were still left cowering at the side of the road waiting in vain for someone to come to collect their cargo.
Back to the traffic and humidity of Dar.....
As the office re-opened we were very glad to take delivery of a new Caterpillar digger which has been bought for our Airstrip Development Team.
Meanwhile in the UK our new Airfield Development truck (see below) is nearing completion. A crane has been added for loading the Caterpillar and a front mounted winch fitted for if/when the truck gets stuck.
As the children returned to school after the break the Board of Governors have been continuing to search for a new Director to lead and oversee all the activities of the school. This is a crucial role to the future of the school as we embark on a new 5 year strategic plan.
With many of the teaching staff being fixed-term missionary volunteers the school sees a significant exodus every couple of years. This is one of those years as you can see from the vacancy list at the school website (http://www.hopac.net/opportunities-at-hopac/current-opportunities/.)
Any teachers fancy coming out to join us.......?