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5000 bedkits distributed!

For a second consecutive year, Geneviève Milot, co-owner of Quality Suites Drummondville, participated in distribution of 5000 bedkits for “Sleeping children aroud the world” organization.
Here’s a summary of his unforgettable experience in Tanzania.

Tanzania: July 13, 2016

Team Tanzania started the morning with a tour of the mattress factory, which has been manufacturing the foam mattresses made for SCAW in Tanzania for 15 years.  The manager gave us a tour where we first saw a staggering pile of 5000 mattresses, colourful and bright, ready for distribution.
We watched the foam for the mattresses be cut, carried, and piled high, ready to be covered in fabric, after which they were wrapped in plastic to ensure that the mattresses stay clean and dry through the night.  The company is kindly storing the mattresses for free in addition to providing transportation to the distribution sites.  The employees proudly showed us their handiwork and we were able to ask questions and take pictures.

 

Following the tour, our team was invited to Mama Wandoa’s home and workshop where the children’s clothes and backpacks are sewn and the bedkits are compiled.  Piled high in two rooms are 5000 bedkits, readily waiting for 5000 children who will dream bigger and sleep better thanks to the generous donations through Sleeping Children Around the World.
Sewing machines were electric and manual, some for buttoning, some for serging. We also took a look through a bedkit to see how each item will help each child.   Seeing each bedkit ready to go has us all excited to begin the incredible work we know is about to begin.

 

For the Children

Team Tanzania 2016

 

Tanzania: July 14, 2016

Part of the challenge with a distribution in a foreign country is trying to adapt to every situation possible. Today is an example, as we had to reschedule the distribution because of a change in the country’s exams for students entering secondary school. Children had to attend class so, we started our journey…. with a field trip! It was a great opportunity for us to learn more about the people, their culture and the country of Tanzania.

 

We had the opportunity to meet Said, a history teacher, mentor and also a fantastic guide that gave us a lot of information about how African history evolved over the years. We tried many different regional fruits and ate local typical food. We also explored the spice fields filled with many of the well-known spices of Zanzibar. Our guide seemed to know everyone on the island and it was amazing to see his genuine involvement with local citizens in need.

 

During the day, we learned so much, and as nothing happens for nothing, we will be more knowledgeable about the children’s reality for our first day of distribution tomorrow.

Team Tanzania 2016

 

Tanzania: July 15, 2016

Today we had our first bedkit distribution in Temboni at a small school about fifteen minutes off the main road. When we arrived, the children and their parents were thrilled to meet us.  We quickly set up and with Mama Wandoa’s help had the distribution on its way. A highlight of the distribution (and a real moment of enjoyment for someone who had never been on a trip before) was seeing how happy the children were when we handed them the bedkits and mattresses. When we showed the parents what was in the bedkits they were overjoyed and cheered loudly. It’s so great to think about that over seven hundred children will be sleeping better tonight.

 

Team Tanzania 2016

 

Tanzania: July 16th, 2016

Day two and we were anxious to fine tune what we discovered on day one!

 

We left close to 6:30 am and arrived an hour later at the school in Buyuni.  Trees shaded the grounds of the school  and hundreds of children and their families were there excitedly awaiting our arrival.

 

We were introduced to the families by Benjamin and entertained with a music circle by the children.  We were told the theme of the children’s entertainment was based on road safety and it looked like a fun and creative way to deliver an important message.  Watching children fill buckets and water the grass, the teacher told us that the signs on the trees remind the students that sharing the planet and keeping our planet green is their goal.

 

The Head Teacher told us that 2,260 students  attend his school, aged from 5 to 11 years . There are 45 teacher

Yesterday I asked students from a similar size school if they “liked their teachers” and was overwhelmed by the positive response in English of “we LOVE both our teachers!”  Education is an important goal of most of the people of Tanzania.

 

Today, we gave out 710 Bed kits without any glitches, and thanks to the volunteers, we learned enough Swahili to say to them “This is a gift to you from a friend in Canada” as they lifted the backpacks onto their backs.

 

Team Tanzania 2016

 

Tanzania: July 17, 2016

Sunday is often described as “a day of rest” but not for this year’s SCAW team in Tanzania.  Despite having no bedkit distributions today, we were out the door at 6:40 a.m., heading to church with Mama Wandoa, Benjamin and Wendy.  The choir’s music was beautiful and lively, and at the end of the service we were invited to visit the children’s Sunday School where our team taught “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to the children—great fun was had by all!

In the afternoon, we toured through the Village Museum and learned so much about traditional customs, housing and heritage of seven different tribes of Tanzania.  Several of our team members and our driver joined the dancers and learned some new moves to try at home.

At the end of the afternoon, we went to two community markets to see local artisans at work and to practice our bargaining skills in order to purchase a few souvenirs.

 

Today’s experiences will help us better understand the families and children we are meeting, as we continued to learn about the unique and wonderful Tanzanian culture.   We are fully refreshed and ready for distribution number three tomorrow.

 

Team Tanzania 2016

 

 

Tanzania: July 18, 2016

Our team was privileged to visit the home of a bedkit recipient after our distribution on Monday. We drove a long way on some very rough roads to get to there, which means that the children would have to walk a long way each day to school.  The home had two rooms, one for family living and the other for sleeping. Mama and the two children of the family were very excited to receive the bedkit. She explained that she would cook outdoors on an open fire and she had bought some chickens, hoping to get some eggs in the future.  We left our visit feeling very blessed with what we have in Canada.

Team Tanzania 2016

Tanzania: July 19th, 2016

Distribution number four in Tanzania was in Kawawa today, and another 715 children and their families will have a more comfortable place to sleep tonight.  As our Swahili improves, our interactions with the children are getting fuller.  The children are excited to talk with us, to listen to our singing and laughing, and to find out about our homes.

The need in Tanzania becomes more evident to us every day too.  Showing the bedkits to families always invokes loud cheers from them.  Seeing the family reunions after each child leaves with their new bedkit, we see the smiles from a distance.  We also see the prevalent need for support when the distribution is underway, as children and families wait nearby, hoping that extras will be available for them too.

 

It is a particular joy for us to see the names of personal friends and family who have donated a bedkit, and to meet the child(ren) receiving a bedkit from someone we know at home.

 

We have been told many times that this is winter in Tanzania, and that the children and families are finding the cold temperatures (22 C at the lowest) difficult.  As for our team, we are managing well in the Tanzanian sun, dust, and humidity.  Each day is a lot of work, and a lot of joy.

 

Team Tanzania 2016

Tanzania: July 21, 2016 – Preferences

As we just ended the second to last distribution today, the sunniest and warmest day so far, we have been noticing that kids are choosing their mattresses so differently- it’s fun watching them!

 

There is the “quick one”- They would pick any- actually- the closest

Then, the “analyzer”- They already know what they want because they saw how the distribution works, and they made up their mind while waiting in line for their pictures to be taken

 

The “shy one”- who would choose the one you have your hand on.

The “digger”- the one they want is actually in the middle of the pile, the one you cannot reach easily

The “twins”- who wait for their best friend and so that they can choose together

The “weather vane”- who chooses one, and then suddenly changes their mind to pick a different one.

One thing is for sure- each child will surely have a good night’s sleep on their brand new mattress, regardless of what kind of chooser they are.

 

Gen for Team Tanzania 2016

 

Tanzania: July 22, 2016 – 5000 Bedkits!

This afternoon, in Mchickichini, the 5000th Bedkit was given to a delightful child, beaming with joy, as she held each item, packing them in her “mifuko” (bag), giving thumbs up and smiling from ear to ear.  She waited patiently, blowing bubbles and playing with the SCAW team.
The 5000th Bedkit was purchased by our team as a thank you gift to the overseas volunteers here in Tanzania.  The jobs of the volunteers included: helping children get dressed into their brand new clothes; carrying, folding and tying 715 mattresses each morning; cutting off the bracelets used to identity Bedkit recipients; helping the children find their backpacks and baggies (Swahili for bag!) with their school uniforms; sizing the children to receive their Bedkit (large or small); and helping our team to learn Swahili (some of us can count all the way to 20, and a few of us know 5-6 colours).

Many of the volunteers are also employed from January to July, preparing the bedkits- cutting fabric, sewing clothes, and packing the 5000 bedkits. Other volunteers gave up possible work days, proud to be able to help children who need it.  I asked one volunteer if he was sad because it was our last day of distribution, and he told me no- that he was happy because he knows the children are happy, and he cares about them. Each volunteer has a story, each has given of themselves to ensure 5000 Tanzanian children can sleep better and dream bigger thanks to the generous gift of a Bedkit.

The gift of a Bedkit is a gift that keeps on giving.  In some ways, this thank-you gift to our overseas volunteer team had 4 recipients, and we could see the impact for all four immediately- the volunteers, the child, her family, and the SCAW volunteers.

The volunteers were beaming with pride, smiling for the camera (“Cheka!” – Swahili for smile), and so grateful for their thank you gift to be a gift for a child.  The child was delighted, happily posing for the camera, arms around SCAW volunteers, and giving the thumbs up.

Walking away with her new “godoro” (mattress) balanced on her head and her “mifuko” (bag) on her back, we saw her mama greet her happily.  We know that the Bedkit will help her family- and we can only imagine the ripple effect of this gift.  We as SCAW volunteers were gifted with the opportunity to see- for the 5000th time in 7 days- the incredible joy of receiving a Bedkit.  The young girl shook our hands, looked us in the eyes and warmly told us, “thank you”.
La voir quitter avec son nouveau « godoro » (matelas) sur sa tête et son « mifuko » (sac) sur son dos, on a pu apercevoir sa maman l’accueillir très heureuse. Nous savons que l’ensemlbe aidera sa famille et, on ne peut qu’imaginer tous les effets positifs de ce cadeau inestimable pour eux. En tant que bénévole de SCAW, nous sommes choyés d’avoir l’opportunité de voir, pour une 5000e fois en 7 jours, la joie indescriptible des enfants qui recoivent un ensemble. La jeune fille nous a serré la main, nous a regardé dans les yeux et nous a chaleureusement remercié.
The gifts we have given this week, thanks to generous donors, have been gifts for us, too.   We have been gifted with love and laughter, with hope and humility, and been gifted with new friendships to cherish for years to come.  5000 bedkits delivered to 5000 children adds up to so much more.

Asante Sana.
Thank you.
Team Tanzania 2016

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