TheSmiths do Tanzania in humanitarian style

Published on Thu, Sep 9, 2004 by ichard Clark

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The Smiths do Tanzania in humanitarian style

By Richard Clark

Mike and Paula Smith live in Blaine, but for the third time in four years they’ve been vacationing in Tanzania. Well, not exactly vacationing. They returned last month from a month’s tour of volunteer service at Pamoja, a Christian compound in Arusha that is administered by Canadian missionaries Sig Feser, his wife Joy, and a staff of 14.
Boarding a flight from Vancouver July 3, the Smiths flew to Africa with supplies needed by the compound, and blessings of the Blaine Christian Fellowship, whose contributions helped to support their journey.
Located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha’s high altitude keeps the weather cool the way ocean breezes do in Blaine. But hiking at such a height left the Smiths a bit breathless.

Soon they found themselves joining the Pamoja staff, working in fields of service with which they were acquainted. Mike engaged himself as a handyman whose help was appreciated by staff groundskeeper Ezekiel and Martina who kept the compound clean and orderly. His specialty was electrical repairs. But his driving skills were also utilized.

The ubiquitous computer was kept busy. While Ndelilio was a staff member busily filling the computer with Swahili Bible passages, it became Paula’s job to fill it with recipes that Flora, the cook who spoke English and Swahili, would appreciate. And Sig, a former physics professor whose specialty became the introduction of Christian literature to East Africa, appreciated Paula’s library service; she catalogued and computerized books by the hundred.

Not far away, they visited an orphanage that housed 33 children aged 10 months to eight years and staffed by no more than two nuns. They also visited a school and a center for mentally handicapped children. Mike and Paula found ways to volunteer their services wherever they went. They attended a different church every Sunday.

The Smiths took a two-day safari at Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara where they saw a large collection of animals that included elephants and hippopotamuses. On their way home, they spent a couple of days sightseeing in London. They returned to Blaine August 2.
Not a bad adventure, in all. The Smiths believe a change is as good as a rest.