Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Gradeoneathon money raised

So this is exciting. The first place a small amount of the money raised from the Gradeoneathon will go is employing 'clown doctors'. 
Let me explain- clown therapy is a program involving visits from specially trained clowns. They are not doctors, they're usually performers and entertainers in their own right who go through a 40 day training program specifically for work in hospitals. They use techniques such as magic, music, story telling and other clowning skills to empower children with doses of fun that can help them deal with the fear, anxiety, loneliness and boredom. Perfect for our children cancer ward. 
During August and September, 20 young artists of Dar es Salaam will participate in this training course. A few will then be chosen and employed by the hospital for regular visits-paid for by the Gradeoneathon!
Cool huh!
I'm just sad I won't be here to see it in action. But we have been promised photos when it's up and running.

Here's some photos of today's fun. We had an English style birthday party. With pass the parcel, pin the tail on the elephant, jelly and cake. Also I had to show you the little ones we spend most lunch times with-maimi and Herbie adore them. They're very easy to make laugh!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Letter day - I love it!

Before we could begin the key broke in the classroom door so we ended up in another tiny classroom. Eventually we spilled out into the corridor. So gradually other various children joined in from other wards. It was chaos when I got my balloons out!

Letter days is always such a fab day. This time I had so many letters from British kids, it gave the teachers a huge amount of translating work to do. The kids loved hearing from the British kids.

Then it was their turn to write some letters-here's a sample of a few
'My name is Felix. I like football. I am 13. I have 3 sister and 1 brother. I like flowers. I hate disease. Pray for me. One day I will be alright.'
'My name is Godbless. I am 5 years old. I hate disease. I believe in Jesus Christ. One day I will be well. Thank you for everything. Welcome to Tanzania.'
'My name is Mariam. I am 12 years old. I like swimming, reading, story books, praying and to chat with my friends. I like doing exercise. Thank you for your gifts. God bless you.'

This one is from my own wonderful daughter Maimi. She wanted to take part and this is what she wrote.
'Hi everyone, we are having a great time. I have made lots of new friends. Friend in Swahili is rafiki. There are lots of cuties. One is called Raulian, he is a real cutie. There's one called Sophie and Dismass. Last but not least Rihanna. At the children's home I have a new friend. I think she is my best rafiki. She is called Anett. Jambo Anett this letter is for you.xxxxxx'

That made my day-the kids are really getting under her skin and so I think is Africa.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Beads and face paints

Another lovely day with songs and arts and crafts. Then we went to visit the bed bound children with lots of boxes of snap cards. They're bloody bored up there, so things like that and puzzles and loom bands are brilliant ideas. All stuff donated by my wonderful friends!

The wedding

Well that goes down as one of the most bizarre places to play. I think they liked it......
The children's home kids did some dances and songs. Actually I think everyone had a turn in the spot light, dancing or singing! It started about 2 hours later than we thought-which was fine as there was loads to do, then the line up, one by one- literally dancing into position, then more dances and cake ceremony and saying hello and having a photo with every single person individually and more speeches and more saying hello to everyone and then 2 English people playing a couple of tunes (that's us!) Quite an experience. 
Finally we ate. Herbie and Maimi were so hungry by then they wolfed down the goat and rice.
It was a great evening that we'll never forget.
And it was Chris's birthday.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Bagamoya children's home and pre school

What a fantastic 2 days we've spent out near Bagamoya, at the children's home I visited last year and the little pre school. Both were built and are run by Robert the only violin teacher in Dar and Mary his wife. They have also built many other schools in the area.
Both days we started with a short work shop in the classrooms at the pre school. Thank you to everyone who donated the Teddy's as lots of them went to these children. We then played games and had fun at the children's home for the rest of each day.  Herbie did not stop playing footy for about 6 hours and Maimi made so many good friends. There were about 5 children there with club foot in different stages of treatment. Mary and Roberts charity pay for their care and they stay at the home which is nearer the hospital. They we're incredibly adaptable fun loving kids.
Ps-they've invited us back there on Saturday for a wedding. Chris and I are going to play at it. We can't wait. 

Monday, 14 July 2014


Those of you that have read my blog from last year may remember me telling you about Leonard. He has again within seconds of meeting him astonished me with his unfailing love for these children. Chris saw it too on the first day we arrived. Today when we arrived he was dressed in his I love London T-shirt and cap that I'd bought him. 
He told me how his brother has just died and he was having to travel the long distance home to be with his family. He came dressed today in his tshirt and cap because he thought he wouldn't see us again and wanted to have photos with us all. I asked him how long he was going for and he said maybe 2 weeks but probably only 8 days as he will worry about the children in the hospital too much.
He has 5 children of his own-2 sets of twins and 2 of those with sickle cell. I don't know what he gets paid-but you can be damned sure it's not even 1% of Messi's salary!
He just doesn't stop-he's there before everyone in the morning and leaves after everyone at night, he knows every family and adores every child as if they are his own - a true angel of a man who I know has found his vocation in life and is fulfilling it to the max! 

Maimi is pictured below with a little girl she has fallen in love with called Sophie. She doesn't speak English or Swahili, but that totally doesn't matter-they adore each other. Herbie is pictured with a boy called Dismass. What a poppet he is, so funny. He's constantly playing footy with Karim or any other boy around. I'm very proud of them both- they're getting stuck in and taking everything on board. We gave the parents the hand fans we brought out and stuck glow in the dark stars on the ward walls.

Today when Herbie and I were in the toilet I heard a sound that can only mean one thing- it was a mother wailing and it began very suddenly, but got louder and louder. I knew it meant a child had died and the only way out was through it all-so do I wait in the loo with Herbie firing questions at me as to what going on or do we go out and confront the situation. We left the toilet and witnessed a very harrowing scene. Herbie took it all in and I'm sure will come out with many questions over the next few weeks about it. But I'm not worried that he saw it. Surely it can only emphasize why we're here.

The last photo is a typical picture of when we leave. The kids run after Herbie and Maimi shouting 'bye, bye, bye' it's very funny and they dance us out of the ward.

A good day!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Snakes and ladders day

Day 2 at the hospital started with some music and songs at the hospital classroom followed by some very chilled out snakes and ladders with some gentle film music in the back ground.
Then lunch with the kids at the hostel and some puzzles and games.
Herbie had been desperate to find his friend Karim for some footy, but he was having his kemo session back at the hospital so we went and found him and took him some puzzles. He was lying on his bed feeling rotten-but wow, his face lit up when he saw Herbie and Maimi.
I then played for some of the other ward children who followed me from room to room like the pied piper.
Lovely day-didn't get too lost, or locked out!