Thursday, 17 March 2011

Stories from Howard and Elizabeth

Howard and Elizabeth have recently returned from their African cycling adventure to raise money to equip the operating theatre in Serenje hospital. Here are some stories from their trip and some great photos - thanks to Howard for sending these.

We left Nairobi at first light on the 13 Febuary, armed with directions from the lodge staff as to how to find the road to Zambia. There began the most amazing example of God's provision for us. The excellent directions along a poor road took us safely to the Namaga road,we stopped in Kajaido to find a bed for the night,and were directed by the police to a lodge which had no rooms because they were still being built. The Anglican church, however had a guest house and would organise a meal. It poured down as soon as we arrived and did not stop until we were ready to leave the next morning.

Having completed the first day we were a little saddle sore but were pleased to be really on our way after all the months of planning. I will not bore you with a blow by blow account of the following days, but will narrate some highlights. We had no visa for Tanzania,had tried to get one when we were there a few days before but they would not issue a multi entry visa. Nevertheless the border officials waived the fee, sorted out our papers immediately and sent us off with their good wishes.

On the fourth morning we were cycling along at first light and came across a South African (Richard) jogging from Cape Town.He had covered 5900Kms on foot,so our effort looked pretty tame. He recommended us to stay in Trinidad lodge in Babati and laughed when we told him our route."You will be walking a lot" were his parting words. We arrived at said lodge and I left Elizabeth doing the washing whilst I attempted to find out about the road ahead. I asked the first group of people that I came to,whether they spoke English. "I do" said Jovin. "Do you know anything about the Dodoma road" said I. He explained that he knew a lot about it as he was the civil engineer responsible for building the new Dodoma road, but was adamant that we could not cycle it,walk or bus,and then if it does not rain. He fixed us up with the bus and then explained that he had only been at the guest house because it was a Chinese public holiday and so all his Chinese workers were away, so he was working from the guest house!

The bus was awful but we arrived safely, and then continued by bike up hill and down dale. Where we were told there were no guest houses and wuld have to camp,we found that a guest house had opened the week before. Where there was no guest house at all in Chioso, a delightful chap called Sunday,said he would ring a chap and sort something out. The phone call was made and we were told there is a lorry loading diesel on the road opposite,it will give you a lift to our lodge. We had to pay the next day for a lift back to where we had stopped,but had an excellent meal and a good nights sleep.

The only guest house we came across that was full,directed us to another that again had just opened-and was much better. We always had a cooked meal-had to cook one meal even though we were in a restaurant! Never had to use the tent, always found a drink when we needed one,kept in good health,and avoided the buses and lorries,which all try to push cycles off the road. On the last afternoon we were met by two pastors,who had arranged accomodation where there was not supposed to be any.

On the last day(3 weeks after we set out 5 march we were escorted into Serenje by 15 pastors on bikes. The field worker on his motorbike,and a police motorcyclist who stopped all buses and lorries until we had passed.Eventualy we were met by a crowd of about 100 volunteers,pastors,doctors,nurses,and the District Commisioner. Were sung a beautiful African song and presented with the Freedom of Serenje!

And then we flew home. Rather weary, a trifle lighter,very pleased it was over but amazed at how God had provided for us every step of the way.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Latest news from Serenje

Howard and Elizabeth completed their mammoth cycle ride from Nairobi and arrived in Serenje safely - what an impressive journey! They had a Serenje police escort plus 10pastors and a photographer accompanying them for the last 20 miles. Then an interview with the press and a procession with the District Commissioner to the hospital. See the previous blog for details of how to sponsor them. So far they've raised £7,105.

We've just received a report from Serenje, outlining all that was achieved from October to December 2010. It's so encouraging to read all that has been happening and the next few blogs will be sharing the progress that has been made.

The number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) being supported increased from 890 in 2010 to 1700 in 2011 which is a huge and significant scale up.

Scale up from Year 1 to Year 3:
Year 1 (2009) Year 2 (2010) Year 3 (2011)
190 890 1700

375 Females and 435 Males were registered in year 3 scale up

In terms of school fees, the project is going to pay 75% to all secondary school going OVCs where 25% will be paid by the guardians to the children. The Primary school going children will receive uniform and shoes. This will have helped the OVCs a lot and it is encouraging that these sponsored children regularly attend classes though some of them have to cover long distances especially those in secondary. Some children walk to cover 20 Kilometres every day to and from school.

It's just incredible to think that there are 1700 orphans and vulnerable children in school. Local people have noticed that there are less children on the streets during the day than there used to be, because now they are in school. Amazing.

In the next blog we'll be hearing about farmers, vegetable farming and goats!