Friday, 29 August 2014

The Moments are Countless

Well I knew it would probably happen at some point!
Tonight I was flicking through the amazing photos Chris took on our trip, to print some out for Herbie and Maimis diaries. None of us have had any time to look at them as we started work the day after we got home. Reality smack in the face I can tell you!
I was simply loving looking at them-then it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I can't explain the feeling-it was a sort of panic-we spent all year planning and getting ridiculously excited for this trip. It truly was epic, but I haven't given it time to sink in and truly digest it all.
Our feet did not touch the ground for 6 weeks there and if they did it was to marvel at some incredible view. Like the top of the Sanje Falls that took us all 4 hours to hike up. The sun setting over the Indian Ocean. The raucous sound of the night time frogs. Africa just getting on with life as we drive for 2 days to reach Ruaha, through landscapes I've only dreamt of seeing in person. Not to mention the sight of a child on the ward sitting up in bed as they recognise us and know we = fun!
The moments are countless.
There are photos that set me off bawling- of my own children completely forgetting themselves as they laugh and play with whatever group of kids we happen to be with that day. Be it the wonderful friends they made at the children's home, playing football, doing make up, having water pistol fights. The children on the cancer ward they immediately grew to adore. The ex pat kids they met on our last week doing workshops and a concert, or our dear friends children Ione and Hunter who they happily had sleepovers with and played in the Ocean at the bottom of their garden.
Chris and I made and cemented both new and old friendships and that was a wonderful and unexpected part of our trip.

So, if you've asked me how our trip was and I may have seemed a little vague-the answer is - I just can't find the words. I think the panicked feeling I'm getting is frustration with myself that I can't describe it- not really. I so want everyone to get it like we do. You have to go there and see it, smell it, hear it and breathe it yourself.
I don't feel I'm doing it justice.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Children in Crossfire

Hi all
Just wanted to clarify one thing.
Children in Crossfire are amazeballs! I think my last post may have made it sound as if they're abandoning the cancer ward-but it was always the plan for them to pull out after 5 years, as the funding they secures comes to an end.

In that time they've raised over 1 million quid for the ward!!!! They are doing all they can to support the Impact Plan in this transitional period.

The Impact Plan will take over and I'm sure will be as successful at supporting the kids as CIC were.

All amazing people all with the same goal.

Thats all-over and out-for now!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

On we go...

And so we're home again.
Even before we'd reached home in our taxi I'd had an email from a friend with an amazing fund raising idea which will target big insurance businesses.
And on we go....

I wanted to get you all in touch with the wonderful new charity that are taking on the huge task of fund raising for the children's cancer ward. The umbrella charity Children in Crossfire will be pulling out and the end of the year, so the ward are on their own from there on...

A wonderful American couple Jeremy and shannon, have taken on the challenge of raising the funds needed and created the new charity called The Impact Plan.
There is an amazing and really easy to use website (even my mum could do it!).

It has a shopping page where you can spend just $0.73 on a pack of pencils for the classrooms, or you can start our own fund raising page through the website. By doing this you could try and raise the $513 needed for 1 child's chemo for 1 year.

Also for those of you who fancy the experience that Chris and I have had, you can visit Dar and volunteer on the ward. The Impact Plan will help organise it all. Or you can join the Kilimanjaro walk in January to raise funds that way.

They are also advertising worldwide for Paediatric doctors and nurses-not specifically oncologists-although they are always very much needed.

I wanted to show you a few more photos from our trip.....
I hope you enjoy them

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Noooooooo. I don't want it to be over.

So this is our last week.
We started the week as a birthday present. Our friends invited us to play at their friends birthday party as their present to the birthday girl. It was lovely. Fantastic food, Maimi having a night time swim in the almost 'super moon' and us meeting some more lovely people of the Dar community.
We also met with other lovely friends. Nick Bain (brother of Chris Bain!), Robert and Mary, Mike and Penny. So many good friends here now.
We're running workshops each afternoon this week for the ex pat kids, which has been really fun. We'll put on a short concert with them tomorrow after the last session. Both Herbie and Maimi have joined in everything. Maimi has made a great violin buddy in Nora from USA. Herbie has totally loved the drumming workshops with Chris.
We've visited the hospital too and tomorrow we say goodbye to them all.
The last day we were there I spotted a little girl who was here last time I came 17 months ago. Although it's so lovely to see familiar kids faces at the hospital, it means things aren't looking good and they're obviously back for more treatment.  
Her name is Sumaiya. She was having a line put in her wrist for her medicine. They could not find vein. I have no idea how often this happens when trying to find a vein, but blimey it's quite brutal. They went in and out, in and out before eventually hitting the spot. She didn't flinch, or cry, or utter a word, while it was happening. I chatted away to her and she just sat very still waiting for it to be over. 
When it was she said 'Asante', 'thankyou'.
I wouldn't be that brave!
Don't want to come home.............

The last photo is of the gorgeous Happy with Herbie, who has made the house like a palace every day and taken sugar eating to new heights!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Leonard's home

I've said it before and I'll say it again-my god Africa is a continent of contradictions! And they really mess with my head!
So last night Chris and I gave a short yet lovely recital to some ex pats music lovers held at a beautiful house. They were all very kind and really enjoyed the evening. It was great to meet them all. They all drove home in various 4x4's to their hopefully well earned bigs houses with all the trimmings. Nothing wrong with that picture. They were good, kind people who gave generously to the charity kidzcaretanzania. But today as we visited the ever generous Leonard at his very humble home I can't help but struggle with it all.
On Friday he asked us to please visit his house. We were totally honoured and we really didn't know what to expect. He built his 3 roomed house himself 10 years ago. After meeting us some way off he jumped in the car and directed us quite a way away to his village and his tiny home.
For anyone who has been to my house - the main room was just a little larger than my lounge. Then off that room separated by curtains were 2 small bedrooms, each half the size of the main room. He lives there with his wife and daughter 20yrs, son 14 yrs, twin boys 10 yrs and twin boys again 6 yrs!
Yep 2 sets of twins! The 10 year olds both have sickle cell which is an added stress and expense. I felt dreadfully sorry for his daughter Susan who aged 20 has to share a minute bedroom with 5 younger brothers. Can any of you imagine our little darlings doing that?!
One other thing I noticed was that there were no toys in sight. Nothing at all. We'd brought with us a football, fizzbee and a few cuddly toys ( that they went to give back to us as we left, not taking for granted that they were a gift). But it wasn't enough, I wish I'd brought more. Every day he sees me handing out colouring stuff, puzzles and teddies etc to the kids on the ward and I know he's genuinely pleased they are receiving these things even when his own children have nothing like this at home.
I've just put together a bag of what I have left for them all and I'll give it to him tomorrow. 
Chris drove away from the visit on quite a high and feeling really pleased we'd gone. It was obviouse Leonard was so delighted to have had us visit. He kept saying this is a wonderful day and how they had been waiting all day for us to arrive. We'd made their day!  
 I couldn't help but feel a little down as we left. I can't put my finger on it. His children were incredibly happy kids. Leonard and his wife are obviously wonderful parents. He's working so hard to give them everything they really need. But it just all doesn't sit right with me. The haves and the have nots. We all could have been born into such different lives-it's just luck isn't it? The roll your dice has taken. It's just something I can't ignore. 
For people like Leonard, one of life's utter angels who every day make a difference to the lives of those around him-I just believe he deserves more. And above all I hope he realises how valued he is.

Leonard and his home. Herbie playing footy immediately with his boys.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Turtles or tortoises?!?!

Looking forward to the next day every day is a good feeling!

We started the day today by visiting our lovely friends Mary and Robert who run kidzcaretanzania. They built the children's home we have visited and many schools too. Herbie and Maimi were desperate to go their house to see their team of lawn mowers-in the shape of tortoises. Or are they turtles? I still don't know.
Then on to the hospital. There was a big group waiting for us today, so we got stuck in to some music fun. The pictures show Chris with the kids having a go on the cello and the fab percussion donated by percussion plus. 
There is a picture of Chris with children all over him as he shows them that talking cat app you get on iPhones. They thought it was totally brilliant. 
It's a 3 day weekend from tomorrow, so instead of being at the hospital we will visit the children's home as they won't be at school. I think it may be for the last time. But haven't told Herbie and Maimi that. 
We'll be back. I know that for a fact now! 
As I write this I'm sat at our friends house, Roy and Zoe. They live in a beautiful place with 2 children and a pack of 5 dogs right on the Indian Ocean. The waves are lapping, the wind chimes are chiming, garlic octopus is on the BBQ, red wine in hand, dogs pottering around. Quite frankly I've never been happier. Looking forward to the next day, every day is a good feeling and with only 10 sleeps left here I'm treasuring every one.



Monday, 28 July 2014

What a busy and wonderful day. Maimi started our workshop playing her recorder to the children. Then we did lots of percussion stuff, followed by parachute fun. Then we learnt colours in Swahili and English. 
We've found that Herbie and Maimi's favourite place for lunch is a very local cafe called Octopub-thanks to Matt Nicholson for introducing me to it last time! I'm astonished that Herbie and Maimi love it-but they do. We have to constantly swat flies and try not to tread on all the pregnant cats around us. But the food is great and at less than £2 for a huge plate of food-we can eat out there every day we're at the hospital!
Then it was back to the hospital for a visit from a local clown. This was a bit of a demo to see what the kids made of it. There were a few little children who we're very afraid of his multi coloured wig-but when he ditched that and got on with the show-it was brilliant! They all joined in his games and fun and we're beaming from ear to ear by the time he'd finished. They were left happy and exhausted.

Ps-did I mention last time that the key broke in the lock of the classroom. So that was 5 days ago. Anyone you ask has no answer as to how to sort this out. It just needs the lock changing. So we're back in a tiny room or spilling on to the hall and risking getting chucked out if we make too much noise. I seem to have lost my frustrated gene-as it's pointless to kick up a fuss. No-one reacts, no-one sees the need or urgency. If it's still the same next week I think Chris will sort it himself-he hasn't lost his frustrated gene!