“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Coming to the end of things is always a mixed bag… especially where travel is concerned. There are blessings and curses, upright smiles and inverted ones, tears both of sadness and joy. These past few days have been filled with endings. The last time to walk through Endabash; the last visits to the homes of friends; the last trip to the buy eggs at the little shop in the center of town. Little things. Everyday things. Important things.
I am learning to tread lightly through my life, but with purpose… Trying to learn to let go of things that I can’t hold on to, but savor them while they are there. To avoid being incapacitated by change, while at the same time avoiding addiction to it. To be a responsible vagabond. To leave lives and places better for having been there instead of leaving a wake of broken promises and half realized dreams. To “keep my feet” as J.R.R. Tolkien put it.
It is commonly asserted that the traveler should make no lasting connections, no ties strong enough to bind them to a place, because if they should venture into this messy territory their traveling days are likely to end and restlessness is sure to follow. Either that or one goes around diving into the deep end, making promises that were never meant to be kept and breaking them and hearts in the process. I think that truth about travel (as in most things) lies in the middle. To grasp the fabric of a place lightly, but also to feel it’s texture and add a few strengthening stitches of your own; this is the secret to making meaningful travel responsibly part of life.
Lindsay and I have been doing a lot of coming and going since we got married and the way our careers are shaping up it may become the norm for us. We are trying to learn this art. Learning to put down gentle roots. To make promises we know we can keep. To leave the fabric of a place a little richer and more durable than we found it. To align the stitching we add with the overall pattern; to ask the wearers themselves what type of pattern they prefer instead of imposing our own ideas of the perfect “garment” onto them. This is an art. We have made mistakes. We are learning.
We leave Endabash tomorrow for Arusha where we will spend a week “wrapping up” (with all that that entails). Leaving Endabash feels like the real end of our time in Tanzania. Technically, Arusha is still Tanzania, but it’s not REALLY… if you get me. A modern city only retains so much of it’s countries heritage. If one really wants to experience a country’s cultural fabric, getting out of it’s cities it essential.
Besides, Endabash has grown to feel like home for us.
We call our hosts Babu and Bibi (Grandpa and Grandma). The children running around call us baba and mama (father and mother). We like to think that we have become a part of the fabric of this place, if only slightly and temporarily. Hey, I even gave 15 back-to-school haircuts this morning (I had the best rate in town… free).
An update on the Indiegogo donation money…
We received a total donation amount of $8160, which has been an incredible blessing during our time here. Our commitment to our donars was that the first $5000 would go to defray the costs for our travel/living and working in Tanzania for 4 months. The remainder we were to put towards the sustainable development of the Endabash community.
The remainder is $3160. Which comes to just over 5 million in TSH. As was stated in the last blog the money was to go to the community group who submitted the most well thought out business/grant proposal. After reviewing the proposals Lindsay and I sat down with the World Vision staff and decided that the Nyota Njema women’s sewing group was to get the funding.
Nyoto Njema have been in operation for 4 years, which gives them a measure of sustainability already. Their plan is to buy sewing machines, sweater knitting machines, and build a permanent place of business; currently they are depending on a rented space and rented machines which can be repossessed at a moments notice. Besides the obvious resiliency that these women already display, we liked the fact that they built alternate streams of income into their overall business strategy. Their plan is to also raise chickens, goats and do small scale farming as a group to supplement the income of the sewing business. This showed us that they already have a measure of innate business savvy.
A GHO certificate was presented to the secretary of the group on Wednesday April 24, 2014. The entire $3160 are to be dispersed to the Endabash World Vision Program Manager Gloria Mashingia, and the group will work with Work Vision on the implementation of their business goals. World Vision and GHO are not taking any percent of the $3160 (the Indiegogo fees were extracted from the $5000). We will keep you updated on the progress of the group both on this blog and on Global Humanitarian Outreach’s website (in the making).
We came across many other sustainable projects in Endabash, so stay tuned if you want to learn of some really great (and sustainable) opportunities to put your money where your mouth is. We love you guys and will see many of you soon.