I’d figured on falling in love with Tanzania, the country, the culture, the food, the scenery… but I hadn’t anticipated on falling in love with the children. I’ve never felt maternal before but it’s hard not to be protective of Tanzania’s youngest citizens. Every day I see them struggle. For many children, life is being treated like scum, battered, bruised, abandoned if they can’t be used to work or feed the family, mistrusted and unsupported by all agencies put there to protect them – the police, social welfare, other orphanages in Mwanza. Amy was once advised by an official body to stop feeding the severely-disabled children in her baby home who were becoming too old for what she was legally allowed to look after so that they would no longer be a problem…
And then there’s Leila, super cute, confident, clever with a family who loves and support her but outside of this both of us having to struggle to raise deaf awareness in a country that throws away its disabled children and where lack of resources and knowledge create barriers to her development.
Some of these photos are of my new family, Leila’s siblings Mollie, Charlie, Tia and Barnabas, all of them adopted by Amy and completely gorgeous. I’m in love with them all.
One child that isn’t on here is Budo. 10 years old and profoundly Deaf he was unable to sign, speak, read or write – my part was to give him a means of communication. For 6 weeks me, Budo and his social worker worked together at Kuleanas street project to teach him a mixture of BSL, TSL, picture drawing – anything that would enable them to find out why he had run away from home and what help he needed and how to counsel him. It was really rewarding. Every new sign he was thrilled at and practised continuously and he would study by himself in his room the sign dictionary and picture boards we’d given him. Unfortunately after 2 months he disappeared, hopefully back to his village and to somewhere he can be cared for.
So, see this as a little celebration of all the incredibly brave children that I meet. They’re such a huge part of my time in Tanzania and a big motivator for me to stay and start a project of my own… but that’s another story