Tuesday, 6 November 2012

It’s fun to stay at the CVJM

Monday November 5th

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?  But it’s down to the CVJM or rather ‘Christlicher Verein Junger Menshen’  in Edenkoben Germany, that much of what is available here at Pangani, including the new hall, is possible.  Until a sign writer painted the name on the wall of the main building, I had never even heard of Edenkoben………

.....but it appears it is a small town in the Rhineland close to the French/German border that somehow over the last forty years, has ploughed thousands upon thousands of euros into the YMCA in Tanzania.  Both the YMCA Toyota pick-ups, which were specially imported from Japan, are down to the CVJM in Edenkoben.  They bought the original house that was on this plot of land to start the YMCA in this area and then also paid for the building of the main block here.  They also support St Margaret’s, a girls’ boarding school run by the YMCA in Moshi and the work they have done there from installing electricity throughout to equipping a new Physics lab, runs to a long list.  Most of their money over the last eight years though has gone towards the hall that had its official opening today.  All this from a population of under 7 000, about one quarter the size of Pontefract!

I got up this morning, after thankfully a good night’s sleep, to see the compound festooned with bunting and a banner across the front of the hall.

I had a good night’s sleep but I felt very guilty, and said so, to find that Mama Gladness, Vicky and Eva had ended up on the floor in the kitchen, the drivers had slept in their vehicles and Deo had slept under the stars.  I once again offered to vacate my room for the night and stay with Denis but Mama Gladness explained that there was no way she was going to sleep in comfort if people she regarded as guests were to be put out, so the status quo remains. A few quick photos of the finished article and it was off to school before the threatened rain and thunder arrived.

The opening was scheduled for 2:00 pm and I thought I would miss it but Denis had already reminded me that Timetables and Tanzania are two Ts that don’t belong in the same box, so it was no surprise as I rode through the gates at just gone 3:00 pm to find everyone still milling around.  I had passed a big party of my students coming down THE HILL and nothing in fact happened until they had walked the 3-4 km down from school.  Eventually everything was pulled into order and a procession was made up of the people present to walk the few metres round to the hall.

One thing I have found in Tanzania is that they love their speeches, and we had quite a few of them before the first of three plaques was unveiled.    More speeches, more plaques and then eventually the local C of E minister was asked to cut the ribbon so that the doors could be opened.

Once inside and seated the MC, who did an excellent job translating everything into English for the German delegation, introduced all the groups present by asking them to stand whilst we applauded.  There were the representatives from YMCA Moshi, the members of Pangani YMCA, which included Denis, our German benefactors, the students at Boza, etc etc until the MC’s steely eyes fixed on me and Denis quickly explained that I had to stand and say who I was.  I stood and made some inane comment about being proud to be there, received my applause, resisted the temptation to bow and the proceedings continued with ….. more speeches.  My friend the big boss from Moshi gave a particularly telling speech which, as I have explained, the MC translated, but unfortunately I was at the other side of the hall so couldn't hear him.  One speech I was interested to hear though, which Denis translated in part, was a welcome for the new building from the local Imam (Muslim leader), where he echoed the statements made earlier by the C of E Vicar and the Catholic Priest, that said that Pangani was a community of people of different beliefs and faiths but with a common purpose.  Quite reassuring with all that is happening in other areas of Africa and certainly borne out by my experiences at school and around town.

The YMCA had ‘put the boat out’ and half way through the proceedings some of my students were called into action to distribute bottles of water to everyone present.  The speechifying eventually ran its course and everyone was invited to queue for the buffet which was a rice dish with the ever present cabbage and it was good to see that my lot had not lost their appetites as they returned to their seats with enormous platefuls and a free bottle of coke.  Their behaviour was excellent as they waited until all the guests had been served before getting their food, and then helped tidy up afterwards, and I was really proud to be associated with Boza.

The cabaret followed which was provided by my little Norwich City fans who did a very entertaining dance to a drum backing group, controlled by a boy with a referee’s whistle, and eventually, as the sun dropped, the various groups either departed or settled down for a drink.  I’d passed on the rice dish so finished off some sausages from Tanga before starting on this missive.  Plenty to talk about with the kids tomorrow.

A final thought.  I find that Menshen translates as ‘People’ so would translate back as YPCA.  Slightly more politically correct although still enough to give 'The Village People' a hernia.

Final, final thought.  One of the members of the CVJM who had not made the trip had written a hand-out that detailed the timeline of the forty years that they had been involved with Tanzania.  He spoke no English so had used Google translator to complete his work.  An example, but by no means the worst, is "1975 - A truck is for a boy to school in Old Moshi by ship. Tanzania convicted." but there is no record of the final sentence.


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