The Group

Aaron Franczek, Collin Hartman,Monica Kling, Sarah Meleski, Claire Pattison, Amanda Schmidt, Becca Scholz, Alyssa Stuiber, Becky Thorn, Ryan Treviranus, Gracie Ventura Haas, Marcie Weiss, Jenny White, Robert Bhatia, Jill Braasch, Jenni Herrick and Laine Philippa

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Big Questions by Graciela Haas

Today we were able to see the fruits of our labor. We saw and helped build the windmill in all it's grandeur. The day began sunny and only became warmer as the day continued. We began by loading, essentially, the whole windmill in pieces into the truck. Upon arriving we unloaded the trucks and the split into two groups. One group held the base of the windmill in place while the other bolted the base together. Soon after we began to realize that we were no longer any help because in order to help we would have to climb like monkeys higher on the structure and Laine would have a heart attack looked like we wanted to  attempt to climb the structure! So Father Tim but us to work building a  trench that would connect the windmill to the water tank (through pipes). By lunch time half us were dying from heat stroke while the half were roasting in our own skins.

After a lovely lunch provided by the Rhema Academy Nursery, we were split into four groups to visit the households of some of the students attending the Academy. For many of us this would be another experience that will stay with us for the rest our lives. My group, combined with two others smashed (literally) into a van. Since the houses that we were visiting were extremely small only four to five people could go in a house, and each group went to a different house. My groups family sounded like many others; the grandmother was taking care of her grandchildren who have HIV, and whose parents died from HIV/AIDS. They don't have any source of income and the Rhema Academy Nursery is really their only life line.

 I think the most touching story comes from another groups household in which the Grandmother's daughter was raped and infected with HIV unknowingly. Her daughter did not know she was infected, got married and became pregnant. She died during childbirth, the child survived, however was infected with HIV. The Grandmother raised the child but has never told him that he has HIV or that his mother died from it. At nine years old, he knows that he is sick, that he has to take special medications, if he gets hurt he has to take special precautions, and he knows what HIV is, but does not know that he has it. The stigma of having HIV/AIDS is very negative. May people state that having HIV/AIDS is not the worst part but the stigma attached to it is worse. The Grandmother seemed to want to spare the child of the alienation and harsh reality of having HIV, but has recently been struggling with the decision on whether to tell him or not. Many members of that group state this situation did hit them until the Grandmother turned to them and asked "What would you do?" and a minuet later Ariki (Eric) walks in.

Many other questions arose as the day continued. After dinner we all gathered around for our nightly guest speakers. Tonight our guest speakers included a gardener and a cook from the water project compound. We learned the many challenges that came with finding work in Tanzania as well as how education level severely limits your career options. But I think we learned this most not from asking questions, but when the tables were turned and they asked us questions. The gardener who had only finished primary school (grade 7) came out and asked us "Why is the U.S. so much more advanced than Tanzania?" We all looked at each other speechless for a minute. His next question was not any easier, "How can we lower the poverty in Tanzania?" Again everyone looked at each other and once again we were humbled by the Big Questions.     

1 comment:

  1. I think it's beautiful. How fortunate you all are at this time in your life to ponder these questions of life. What amazes me about our consciousness is that we as humans have the capacity both to recognize the disparity as well as the interconnectedness of our well-being and have been the gifts and resources to work towards "oneness" and unity.