When the goat went missing this morning, I had a feeling it was due to my impending departure.

I was dreading this. That guilty feeling that I might be causing more harm than doing good. My intentions are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why I’m here or what I have been asked to do. Once the intervention (my arrival) has been put into play there is very little I can do to control or stop what comes next.

I have been working this past week at Nira Orphanage in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It has been a great time. There are 20 beautiful girls and one boy “on the inside”, meaning living on the property and another 20 girls and boys “on the outside” that are billeted and living with others in the area and receive support from the orphanage and their volunteers.

I am here to provide funds and support for the continuing development of the orphanage. Priorities are chosen by the local staff and supported by Health Reach Canada (HRC) and their donors. The local people know what their needs are, they don’t need outsiders coming with their own solutions that are usually unsustainable.

Work completed in this short week included:

Ceiling tiles being installed in dorm

  • Purchased and installed ceiling tiles in one dorm to prevent
    mosquitoes from coming in which carry the deadly malaria parasite. Malaria is the number one killer in East Africa.
  • Continued construction of the wall around the orphanage Mandela making bricks to continue construction of a wall around the orphanagecompound. We will complete the section by the road to increase security of the residents. We have run out of funds to complete the back section which is important after learning that neighbours have been dumping garbage over the hedge and stealing vegetables from the garden. We need another $5000 to finish the wall and install a gate. Donate at HRC if you would like to support this project.
  • Purchased 20 stainless steel plates and new plastic cups. They were eating in shifts because there was not a plate or cup for everyone.
  • Ordered new mattresses for 10 beds. Right now there are 2 children sleep in each single bed. The mattresses don’t last long periods in these harsh conditions.

My stay ended with a party that was hosted and funded by the locals. There was music, dancing, singing and a special meal. These children eat rice and beans every night for dinner so to have meat, and fresh salad is a treat. My heart dropped when I realized the main course was the goat that had been grazing in the courtyard when I arrived.

The children at Nira Orphanage

Asumtha, Erin, Edith and Mama Aziza

The send off for Erin from the staff and volunteers at Nira Orphanage