I am just back from my evening run, something that looks much like a scene from the rocky movie, its just rather than running through a busy market, i run through the red dusty bush land of Tanzania. Followed by an entourage of around 30 childrens feet clomping at the floor behind me, and 30 or so little giggles and laughs, slowly dwindling off the further i get into the run!… I was even joined briefly by a drunk old man we call Babu, who ran by my side singing in his wellingtons for a few minutes, before veering off toward his home for some more banana brew no doubt!
In among all of this commotion, i somehow find some mental clarity on my runs, and have just 30 mins ago realized Iv not even thought of writing my 3rd weekly blog!
So whilst my mind is as clear as the view of Mount Kilimanjaro, sitting beneath this orange and blue Tanzanian sky I’v been running under, I thought I best make a start….
This week has been a deeply moving and spiritual week for me, with memories I will take with me for the rest of my life. I think this blog will reflect what i think and feel, rather than there being a huge life changing event, there has been a great many fine tuning’s of my inner workings this week.
Earlier in the week as if right on queue to test my irrational fears i initially faced caring for a HIV child, i was presented with a very real and rational fear aspect of it.
As many of you know, I started a fund raiser to help raise the money needed so as I could have solar power here, to allow for safe storage of Dominic’s food for his targeted nutrition regime, to keep his HIV at bay. That fund raiser did indeed provide Dominic and I with power! and I write this in a well lit room! But no fridge yet! I have to wait 49 days for it to get here from the UK… But for those of you reading this who helped me, thank you with all my heart for sharing with me and Uchira yet again…. and for believing in what i am trying to do for the children here, It helps me on so many levels from the practicalities of it, to motivational aspects, and to something iv no way to describe other than an overwhelming knowing that for all i work alone here, I am very far from actually being alone.
To raise what was needed for the Solar power, i announced i would run the Kilimanjaro half marathon, 13 miles through the baking hot 36/38’c foot hills of the mountain… I do have some bright idea’s at times! 🙂
So hearing what i had pledged to do, my friends, who are my staff too; rallied around… Ali decided he would start training with me for the marathon, and 1 week in Iv broken him i think, as he his hobbling around on a swollen knee and uttering the word shida (problem) a lot! During all these runs, some mornings, some evenings (in attempt to avoid the sun) Dominic joined Ali for a short run, but he unfortunately he fell over, and cut his knee…
This left me to clean and dress it, and I finally realized how silly it is to fear becoming infected with HIV… It is fairly easy to not get someone else’s blood on you, even when they are bleeding! So i was happy it happened, it helped me silence any small doubts that might still of sneaked into my mind in certain situations. This is the battle of the world and humans right there… You can allow your thoughts and fears to control you, or you can allow your love too control you instead.
To allow thoughts and doubts to take control, would mean I could not of cleaned Dominic’s wound that day, and a boy who already feels to some degree unwanted in the world, would have felt it even more so… Let love rule your decisions and your days, and let the thoughts be what they are, a mere function of a fallible organ, that we sometimes mistakenly think we are.
I am learning much about Dominic too, he may be in his teens now, but the virus has stunted more than his growth. His mental development is not inline with his peers in school. His intelligence is, and his school work is great and he studies hard to ensure that too. However, from time to time he reverts into a child like state… rolling on the floor laughing, he resembled a boy much younger than his years the other day. All the same i was just happy to see him laughing… To me it is a sure sign of healing…
On Saturday the 14th we go to see a HIV Dr in town, they will give us the all important CD4 count… I am really hoping and praying it is above 500… as below there usually means that stage 3 of the virus is looming or begun, and that is the final stage, we all know as AIDS.
Iv mentioned love and laughter there, and how healing it is, this is so true of life here… seeing a smile where there wasn’t one, or hearing laugh from someone who couldn’t…. this is the healing that so many need on earth, and healing like this cant be tracked physically, like a wound or virus, but only by the frequency of the smiles and laughter that were once lost.
Later in the week, I had to head off to see a friend of mine, Mama Lynn, to ask for her advice on many issues, spiritual and practical. Before coming to Tanzania Mama Lynn was simply Lynn Elliot, but now she has taken on the Tanzanian title. I myself have a title here by the way, given to me by the locals due to the rescue animals…. Baba Wanyama… father to the animals!
Anyway! Mama Lynn has a large NGO quite a distance from where I am here in Uchira, called Light in Africa, I will do a blog all about Mama Lynn and her amazing work one day for sure, I believe she is nothing short of a living saint on this planet. To visit Mama Lynn stirs a lot in you, she helps many children indeed and works tirelessly to do so… this motivates and enthuses me greatly obviously, but drive an hour to my area and you have 20,000+ children, maybe more, and only my fund operating to support them… so it also provides a sharp jolt of reality when you leave, that even if I can manage to grow in size to help as many as I can here in and around Uchira,.. This is a job without a completion it seems, there is no finished article as such, no end goal, no absolute solution to the issues, it is a lifetime of chipping away at it…. unless of course humanity somehow evolves within my life time to always put equality before themselves as individuals, which sadly i see as unlikely given the current level of mis distribution of resources on the planet.
Whilst i was there though, i took with me a memory, and one I will keep until the end of my years i dare say….
This memory is also a lesson, and one in love and how it heals even the most broken among us.
Several months ago when i last managed to go and see Mama Lynn, I met a boy there called Patrick… Patrick was tiny, and sadly he was in one of the worst states i had seen a child in life.
He was found when a volunteer saw something by the side of the road whilst heading out to a medical outreach. That volunteer insisted the car stop so she could investigate what she had seen, and thank god she did.
What she had seen was Patrick, laid by the road side too weak to move or walk, and unable to speak with it. He was so malnourished that when they bathed him they had to pat his skin or it would break… hence the name Patrick 🙂
When i saw Patrick in October, he was so timid. Fearful of everyone, unable to walk properly and constantly looking down and never smiling….. In the months between then and now though, little Patrick has been in one of the most loving places in Tanzania, if not the planet….. and oh my does it show!
I was greeted by him running, laughing! Smiling! Demanding that i carry him and hug him…. he was born a new it seemed! What the presence of love had done for Patrick, just reaffirmed it to me, that for all it has been said many times before by many people in many places…… Love truly is the only answer.
I held Patrick and for all he cant speak yet, he pointed to a tree, and made a noise like a baby learning to talk would… so I walked him to this tree which was in full flower of beautiful red flowers… Patrick then gently picked me one, and handed it to me as a gift….. With a smile and a sound, he looked on at me with nothing but love in his eyes and heart. That moment will live with me forever…. life here is often difficult, but I am rewarded with events that cast such a shadow of beauty over those difficulties, you barely notice them for days to come.
When i left Mama Lynns, Much to Dominics delight, i left with new residents to come and stay with me in Uchira too! 3 more puppies! Kidogo, Bee and Pastor 🙂 One of the children in Mama’s care had rescued them and mama Lynn was at her limit i think! She too has a soft spot for dogs like myself, and is already housing 15 or so!
So, I admittedly, reluctantly! felt i should share the burden with Mama Lynn and took them with me… that puts me on 18 dogs…… they are all very sweet though, with 2 exceptions, a mother and son team who are quite the opposite of sweet at times! ha
I have a new routine forming in my daily life this year, every other day it seems someone comes to the gates of the land where the children’s home is. So often i see these people from afar, they are nervous, and looking a little helpless. I think it is amplified as they are on the outside of a mesh fence though. As a great many people for all struggling here, are anything but helpless.
With each new person, comes a new story… We pull up our chairs under the shade of a tree, and sit and listen to why they have come to us… Naturally it is nearly always quite sad to hear, but it always ends feeling quite happy, i think it is the first signs of hope for people that had nearly given up that i am sensing. People who have come to hear of us from others whose children are in school due to the fund, or perhaps from the school teachers or friends of those we’ve helped. However it is these families find their way here, Iv no doubt each and every person that does was supposed to though, and at that exact time with it.
One of those people at the gates however was indeed helpless…. he stood there only 11 years of age waiting to come in. Terrified of the sea of rescue dogs playing in between him and his chance at school. His name was Abdalah, he came alone to see us, and this is what he had to say
“My fathers a drunk, my mum ran away, and my grandmother who looks after me and my sister, is too old now.” …At first when i began sponsoring children, i was so careful. I would say “now this is not for sure, we will try our best though” …. now though, having had 132 prayers answered, and 132 provided with education, meals and medical care if, as and when needed… and many of those with housing too… I know not to hesitate now you see, i know that our prayers will be answered by god and his angels, so we tell children like Abdalah,
“Get you and your sister ready for school, we will sort it out for you…”
How my faith has grown, I know it is not God or an angel making the sponsorship payments, but perhaps it is god or an angel that creates the events that allows a person to find me, then moves their hearts to share with one of the children.
Sure enough the angels answered again, and Abdalah and his sister Zakia were sponsored, and are now off to school… 🙂
I know many a skeptic who are science bound will cringe at the talk of angels, one or two even sponsor some of the children here. So to speak of angels in their presence will likely fall on deaf ears…. but angels were seen in science some time ago, its just the language is less romantic and historic in their scientific description.
…….An angel is a messenger of light, sent from the heavens beyond the stars….. A photon is a light particle, that carries information or messages to the receiver, to us. Photons travel only on angles or light, light that descends from the stars in the night sky and beyond……
There is an uncanny similarity there i’d say… 🙂
I don’t doubt angels, nor do i believe in them actually….. That’s because I know them…. and they help me daily in more ways than i could possibly tell you…
Thank you for reading, and of course as always thank you for all the love and support….
Love and light from Uchira everyone….
Have a beautiful week x