We are needed…on the other side of the country!

food!Refreshed by the mountains of northern Tanzania, we force ourself back into our van for another couple of thousand kilometers that we’ll have to drive to our next project. As usual the start is hard, but once we’re going, we’re going. Easily we fall back in the driving routine that we have mastered over the last fourteen months.

Somewhere in the morning, that can start after 12 o’clock as far as we’re concerned, we start to drive and the journey ends around five, while at this moment already two hours are spend looking for a suitable camping spot. Along the road we picked up some rice and cabbage, that as soon we step out is thrown in our wok thats located on the inferno that erects from our surprisingly still functioning washing drum. After a well deserved cup of tea, we look for our designated sleeping spot. Marten and Minne sleep, along with Noflik, outside the van, guarding Henk who’s the only one who still sleeps in the car. At first daylight, which can start a couple of hours after sunrise as far as we’re concerned, someone stumbles about to make, pour and rink a cup of coffee, after which we wake up, entertain ourselves a little bit and start another day of driving, that this time needs to take us from northeast to southwest Tanzania.

Our car Doutzen does, however, not completely seem to agree with our idea of getting there quickly; each morning we have to improvise more and more to get our once so trustworthy vehicle to start. This is a problem we will attend to later, because now she’d better get us to where we want to be, lest we dump her from cliff for insurance. And, oh wonder, this threat seems to help for now, because she actually does take us through the dust and mountains. Baobab trees stand scattered and parched across the scenery, like a still from a bizarre play. The sun gently, but merciless, drops her rays on the sweating plate roofs of the numerous tiny villages that dot the surface of the country. Endless fields of plants, that will turn in to shizzle rope and everywhere we look we see smoke emitting from the very ground, tainting the perfect blue sky. At some streaks, the roads’ shoulders are covered black from the charred grass and the smell of burned wood becomes rule, rather than exception. Apparently, its the end of the dry season, which means that after a little while, water will come in the form of days and days of rain to refertilize the greedy earth. Before that, everything that is still standing is simply burned down to speed up the process. Natural compost does not appear in a Tanzanian dictionary resulting in the seas of fire that at night form an eerie sight on the horizon. If only the rain would come…

pump it!As we drive deeper inland, the absence of water becomes to trouble us as well; our lips burst and sometimes we say words that don’t exist and especially Marten seems to be fond of uttering phrases like ‘My grandfather was a horse butcher..’ in to the void. If we do see water, we feel like that one monk must have felt the moment he invented beer: ‘It’s there, stop! It’s there, man!’ The brake is pushed to its limit, we drive in reverse faster than we drive forward, crawl out of the car and before we’re standing at the pump, river or well, we’re practically naked and dance, wash and drink ourself frantic like we just won a million. If there’s water, it’s mostly refreshing, which calls us back to reality to see an entire village silently gazing at these bewildered Mzungu. Mzungu, by the way, means white man, or whitee. It’s not meant degenerating or something, but it does make us wonder why we’re not allowed to call people black or negro.

The kilangala mission…mission
It takes a couple of days to get in reach of our next destination, that isn’t mentioned on any map. This means we have to ask our way to the Kilangala Missionpost, an activity thats not strange to us, for we never had a map of any country and thus became highly expert in understanding directions that may sound like total nonsense to the western navigator who needs a TomTom to get to his standard supermarket. “Really close, hihi!” says a small girl that balances a bag on her head of maybe twenty kilo charcoal without any effort. Peace of cake for the ThreeLeftHands, what she actually was trying to say was this: After the hill, take a left turn at the third tree till you hear the hyena. After this you’ll drive for three hours with sun in your back and then you ask again. Like we said, easy. A day tracking and touring on these directions later, we indeed arrive at a bunch of houses, a church, a small hospital and some people that are very eager to meet us and treat us incredibly kind. A little house on the slope of a valley is to be our home for the next weeks and after a good nights rest we check out the spacious compound to see what we can do to improve this place.

House, car, tree... how normal..The local hospital has electricity two hours a day, which is not so weird, because a generator on the compound provides it not only to the hospital, but also to us and the little village that surround it. What is weird, is the modest collection of solarpanels on the roof of the hospital, which should provide for enough electricity to get to the night with lights. Project number one for our mechanical heroes Marten and Minne, who immediately start at this project, which seems simpler than it is, as always. When they’re almost done, they gather some people to explain how to handle solar power and what went wrong in the past. Essentially, the story comes down to this: The sun will give you enough electricity so you can have light during the entire night. Quite handy in a hospital isn’t it? The answer is a women riding a cart in with a TV on it, if we can install it here. No! No we cant! “That,” Minne explains trembling “will consume too much power. I just told you. Do you understand..?” “O yes, yes… No, of course…” If we walk by the next day, the ‘lobby’ of the hospital is surprisingly busy. When we come closer we see why; somebody managed to plug in the TV…

As we’re standing still for the moment, this would be a good time to examine Doutzen some closer and see what’s bothering her. Throwing around dust, oil, screws and some unidentified parts, we find out that the problem lies with some disks that are to thick. The solution is easy. Although there is not a garage of any kind here, the ThreeLeftHands can fix it, as they obviously did not leave The Netherlands without sanding paper and a caliper. Many an afternoon is now spend on our little concrete balcony sanding these incredibly hard metal disks. Takes us about forty hours, muscle ache from our shoulder till our wrist and blisters all over our hand.

Henk sneaks out one afternoon to run an food errand that is a solid excuse to leave nonetheless, and jumps in the LandCruiser that drives to the town that’s situated far from the mission. In this drive he learns that the local public transport system is lacking… transport. The reason to drive to town is a small boy with bootlegging inflicted burns that cannot be treated by the mission and so the father, who already walked for two hours from his village, now carries his barely moving son in the LandCruiser to drive another hour to a bigger hospital. The child, that once was black like his parents, is now a reddish pink, with some black scrapings that remain from his skin. His eyes are empty, like his dad’s, who carries him in a sarcastically vivid colored rag. The dad seems to know what I learn an hour or so later; the child has died, the driver tells me as we walk on the market and he puts his cell back in his pocket.

“We need better transportation between the hospital and the villages.” the missions manager Moses tells us later that night. Thats for sure, and the next day Henk starts composing a project proposal for a self sustaining transportation / ambulance service. Unfortunately, given the facts, we cannot think of something that will render the service effective enough to take care of its own funding. But than again, that’s by European standards. Africa works different, we know, and they just might push and pull till there are enough people in the bus to get enough income. Then again, they might not. Still, T.I.A., This Is Africa…

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5 Responses to “We are needed…on the other side of the country!”

  1. Katolina Says:

    Klinkt weer goed mannen! En jullie hebben me weer even smakelijk laten lachen, thnx! Keep up the good work.

  2. Kerstin Says:

    Hi - or “moni” as the Malawi would say - guys

    nice one! Greetz from the German girls you met at Johns H&M Restaurant (Nhkata Bay).
    We are back home in chilly grey Germany, missing Malawi & its people already

    Save travels and plenty of grey cells for good working & earning money for the next xx months.


  3. Jacky Says:

    hi guys! i like ua pics….u real enjoy ua life..u know life is too short so better to enjoy every moment in ua life!!! cheeeeerzzz enjoy ua selves!!!

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