Ok, so I will write in English for a while now so I can take as many of you as possible with me on this journey.
I’m in Tanzania! First time ever in this part of Africa and a long awaited break from my every day life in Sweden (a life I love and appreciate deeply but sometimes a break is necessary!). My home for now is the Baobab house, located at the foot of Kilimanjaro, a part of the Econef project – soon to become a childrens’ center for 15 (and more later) orphanaged children who are now in the care of a woman named Caroline Nicholas.
How I ended up here is a long story but I’ll try to keep it short: almost exactly a year ago I met a young architect, Carolina Wikström, who told me about a project she was working on in Tanzania. I instantly became intrigued: Econef is a co-operation between above mentioned Caroline Nicholas who is from here, and Swedish architects. The buildings and the surrounding plantations is all built with local materials, use solarpanels and are more or less selfsufficient – sustainable in every possible manner.
During our discussions as as my interest increased I all of a sudden had said yes to organizing an event to raise money for Econef, Eat for Hope, which involved some of Stockholms most famous restaurants. It became a huge success and has been followed by Hops for Hope, another ”gourmet event” I feel proud to have initiated. I don’t know how I did it but it sure was a boost to create something that became a memory for life for those present as well as creating good for the kids here. One thing led to another – more events, more involvement and now I am a member of the foundation Econef Sweden.
And, well, now I’m here! You just never know what’s next, do you…
I am still a bit overwhelmed by my encounter with this huge continent. The beauty, the kindness, the patience…but I have also witnessed the cruelty and injustice brought on by a society I still do not understand.
Life in the Baobab house is good – every day we follow the construction (pictures tomorrow, I promise) that is progressing nicely. We enjoy our meals on the terrace overlooking mount Kilimanjaro and the sounds of birds, insects, cows, goats, donkeys…no cars, no traffic. Such peace. This is no place for stress, for rushing or trying to force things to happen fast. Life has its own pace and I am struck by how somehow things get done anyway. Brings perspective on life in at home.
The children (15 of them) are now living with Caroline a few miles away from us, but they come to visit often to play (they LOVE having so much space to run around) and to help out in the garden. I am used to living alone and really enjoy having so much life around me. Hopefully, if we keep getting the funding we need, the center will be ready for the kids to move in this summer. In this vast, at the moment rather dry area, where there until now was farmland (that belongs to Caroline)- a whole community is growing up. Some years from now, it will be self sustainable: growing their own food, starting a café for people to hang out, a house where guests from Sweden can stay and enjoy the life here…I really cannot wait to see this place thrive!
So, like I said, I am met with a lot of kindness, patience and love, but there is no way getting away from the brutality – yesterday in Arusha we drove past a crowd chasing a naked man, beating him, whipping him and Caroline said ”they will kill him. He has probably stolen something and the punishment for theft is death”. That was a lot to take in. How the crowd worked themselves up, no one on his side, no police to interfere. This is a peoples court and to understand how people can have the ”right” to take ”justice” in their own hands like that is very very hard to wrap my brain around. The image of that naked man running, falling, being whipped and pushed, will never leave me.
This is also why building Econef is so important to me. If the children that stay there, that would have nobody if it weren’t for Caroline, get a home, an education, learn to grow their own food, to cook and to live together in a community, they will hopefully be saved from a destiny of living in poverty. They will know love, kindness and compassion. It’s small change but at the same time – enormous.
I will show pictures very soon, be well,