Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Some Distant Other.

A few days ago, I was reading about the Millennium Development Goal progress Tanzania. The reports were filled with statistics – numbers, percentages and graphs about people living here in Tanzania. And I found myself struggling with disconnection between the information I was reading and my experiences here. Who were the people referred to in this report, and so many reports like it?

And then, it clicked.

The people in these reports are not some distant ‘other’. They are not the people that perhaps I had once imagined when thinking about poverty in Africa. They are not stereotypes, they are not statistics. They are people – each one with a unique story, a unique struggle. People doing the best they can to care for themselves and for their families. They are...

Saimon, our 29 year old Maasai night guard, who left his wife and baby boy in Ngorangora in order to find work in Mwanza to support them. In addition to working, Saimon goes to English class every weekday evening. Afterwards, he sits on our porch studying, singing, and guarding our little house.

The women who we buy avocados and bananas and tomatoes from at the little produce stands on the way home from work.

Jesse, a young man who just finished his 4th year of secondary school. If he passes his exam and can find money for school fees, he will continue to finish the final two years of secondary school next year. Jesse left his only parent, his mother, in a village “a long way” from Mwanza to come and live with his older brother to attend school here.

The women with babies strapped to their backs and buckets of produce or rice on their heads.

Denise, the beautiful woman who owns the little store where I print and photocopy materials for work. She’s had her store for two years, calls me friend, and gives me free photocopies every now and then to say thank you for my business there. Business is hard, but she has big hopes for her store.

The women living with HIV who are waiting for BCDSA to find more funds for microfinance loans. When BCDSA explains that they are still looking for more funds for the project, maybe next year – the women lament that next year may be too late. They may no longer be alive. And, they need to provide for their children before that happens.

Iman, the Dala-Dala (public transportation van) driver that Eric keeps running into. He works in one of the vans that comes to our neighborhood, and seems to be working all the time. He says that sometimes he takes some time off on Sundays.

The women running little cafes out of their homes, cooking delicious rice and beans and bananas and serving those passing by.

Sophie, the 20 year old who is about to begin secondary school. She tried once before, but her English was not at a level where she could keep up in her classes. She has been studying hard, and is ready now. Sophie helps her mother in the house every day, and enjoys playing sports (football, frisbee, volleyball, yoga) in the evening when she can.

The women working, everywhere working, to carry water and care for children and cultivate small farms and wash clothes by hand and sell their fish/peanuts/produce and sew and go to the market. Everywhere, always working.

[[ I am so honored to have met these beautiful people, and so many more. And am grateful to carry their stories with me from this place. The statistics will never be the same. ]]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What beautiful pictures! What beautiful stories. Yes, the statistics will never be the same... I am so proud of you and the light you give to others. My dear M Joy! Love, MOM