Fundraiser Conny Sorgenfrey travelled to Tanzania with the Marifiki volunteers in October and has now returned to Germany. Her emotional journey has left her with many deep impressions. Read more here in her travel report.
It was clear from the start that this would be no normal holiday. I equipped myself for all eventualities with medication, tea, muesli bars (just in case I couldn’t eat the local food) moist wipes and insect repellent.
A warm welcome with lots to eat!
Everything was used at sometime by someone in our 12-person group. The food I was served on the way to our destination Lupombwe, as well as in the village itself, was ample and delicious. The hospitality of the village locals was unsurpassable. We all felt warmly welcomed, it was an unforgetable experience for everyone.
Plastic bowls as showers
We quickly became accustomed to the bathing facilities in the village. To wash ourselves we were each given a ration of warm water, which had been heated in the kitchen over an open fire. A plastic bowl served as a small washing tub and the toilet was a hole in the ground. It really wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.
Even our laundry was taken care of by the industrious hands of the local women, who quickly conjured up clean t-shirts, which dried in next to no time in the warm sunshine.
300 eye examinations performed
The eye screening tests run in the local schools were particularly fun. Almost 300 children were tested over several days. At the start we had problems achieving good results due to the light conditions. With the help of teachers and village elders we quickly established good cooperation and communication.
Many children can see well again
We also retested the eyesight of the children who were examined two years ago by Dr Kaupke and his team, and who had been prescribed glasses. Our goal was to check whether their visual impairment had improved, if they no longer needed to wear the glasses, or if they had grown out of their current glasses and needed a new prescription. The evaluations in Hamburg showed that half of the children no longer needed to wear their glasses – a great success!.
Jump rope, football and blowing bubbles
Here and there the Marifiki volunteers took a break and enjoyed playground games with the local children. I was deeply impressed by the caring way the young volunteers had with the children. What started as shyness quickly became trusting and lighthearted.
After the day’s work was finished and we had eaten together we played with the children and were sometimes joined by the adults. Sitting around the campfire to the sound of a strumming guitar, we all sang songs in English and Swahili, and even composed one of our own.
The trust in us blossomed from day to day. The hospitality, which began so generously, grew visibly with the gift of two hens and a goat, given to us with praise and singing and eaten during the course of our stay.
I especially cherished the moments before each meal when we joined hands and sang together. The spirituality was tangible. A highlight of the trip was the collective church service on Sunday, which was translated into English for us by our interpreter.
After this intensive time spent living together in close quarters the farewells were hard. Presents were shared, heartfelt hugs exchanged and tears cried.
We’ll be back!
Asante sana Lupombwe!
Conny Sorgenfrey is a volunteer in the area of Social Networking and Fundraising for the H.I.T. Foundation. She accompanied the Marifiki group volunteers on their journey to Tanzania. As a child she suffered from a visual impairment which was corrected thanks to timely medical treatment.