Ruth Treseder visits Tanzania and stays with some local sisters.
When we arrived at Mama Clementina’s I could hardly believe I had arrived in East Africa. This was a region I had always wanted to visit since my student days. This was our base for most of the trip to Tanzania. The warmth of the initial welcome from staff who greeted us gave a foretaste of things to come. We received a dinner invitation from the nearby sisterhood which is connected to the local St Joseph’s hospital. This is one of the health units which benefits from Inter Care’s aid.
The invitation to our evening meal sounded very kind and intriguing as I had never eaten with nuns before. Never would I have anticipated the evening of joy and fun which awaited us!
We were welcomed by all the sisters in song and our whole group were seated around a table, only just big enough for all of us visitors. The sisters stood round the edges of the very moderately sized room. We were asked to help ourselves to the plentiful and varied African feast they had prepared, and I was never quite sure how much the nuns themselves ate whilst standing up.
There was much more singing afterwards and dancing round the room. Requests then came for us to sing some of our songs. This caused a bit of an inward panic for some of us reserved & unmusical Brits, but we were rescued by Jane who put her singing talent to good use by leading us. There was so much laughter and fun – what an evening!
We did visit the hospital too. It was not quite so basic as some of the clinics which came later but a long way from the NHS facilities we enjoy.
The dinner and the hospital visit were the beginning of an on-going experience of hospitality and gratitude to Inter Care from those who have so little compared to us. Numerous people we met during our stay welcomed us so very warmly. So often I felt they were giving us food they should have been eating themselves. So many shared with us their joy, particularly in song and dance. It was often overwhelming. How ‘rich’ some of the Tanzanians are in spirit, though, sadly not in financial terms. We felt we have much to learn from them!
Ruth Treseder (Volunteer)