After some very ‘special’ treatment as guests of Sam Cook and Chris Smalling and a lovely evening meal at a very old historic restaurant it was time to leave the sights of Manchester and travel on to our next destination in London.
We were met by Ammit one of the organizers of ONE KIND ACT a newly formed charity which was hoping to raise through an evening fund-raiser at the Holiday Inn, sufficient funding to allow our Learning Center for the slow-learner and disabled child to be completed.
Ammit and Naina’s hospitality at their beautiful home outside of London made Coupa and I feel as though we were VIP’s we were just so ‘pampered’ by Naina with strawberries and grapes for breakfast, a delicious meal at an Italian restaurant and then it was time to move into the Holiday Inn where the grand fund-raising event was to be held. Preparations were being made all through- out the day as ladies were busy making beautiful floral arrangements for each table.
Mama Coupa was just so excited as she ‘hogged’ the bathroom for at least two hours, and was trying to make the luxury which was a ‘far – cry’ from how we both live in Tanzania last as long as possible, then she emerged in her lovely new burgundy long evening dress. She looked ‘stunning’. I felt so happy that she was enjoying herself so much and absorbing every new experience as she has worked so hard for the children of LIA over the last fifteen years.
At 7 – 00pm it was time to go downstairs to the venue and meet the 350 guests that had so kindly bought tickets for this wonderful event.
After the delicious meal it was time for Ammit to escort Coupa and I to the podium. I spoke to the guests about the desperate need in Tanzania for education for the disabled child and quoted one case history of Lucyanna. Lucy has cerebral palsy and was abandoned by her mother when she asked a neighbor to take care of the child whilst she went to the market – she never returned. As Lucy was 3 years of age we were able to help her make the best of her disability and today she can speak two languages. When we approached the government school to allow Lucy to attend to gain an education, they refused saying they had no facilities to assist her. We then approached a re-hab center at Usa River but when she attended an interview they too refused to accept her. Now we firmly believe at Light in Africa that every child deserves an education so this is where a wonderful friend called Uday placed all of our needs before ONE KIND ACTand Hey Presto! We are here at this amazing fund-raiser. Chris Smalling had very kindly given me a T – Shirt which was signed by all the team members of Manchester United and after the speeches at auction the T-shirt raised one thousand pounds.
It was so heart-warming to meet all of these ‘special’ people who so un-stingingly gave of their time and money and at the close of the event, sufficient funds had been raised to complete our Learning Center and to help other charities. Our new teacher started our school last week and he himself has a disability so knows all about being ‘limited’
. Monday morning saw Coupa and I back at King’s Cross train station with four large suitcases trying to find our carriage and quickly place the cases on to the train before the door closed. Coupa was very fearful that she was going to be left on the station platform as the train pulled away, but we were so grateful to the kindness that was shown to us by men and women who could empathize with our predicament.
I was now back at my home town in Lincolnshire which I had abandoned sixteen years ago when I had a ‘spiritual’ calling to go to Tanzania and try to help the children who were dying in 1999 of the HIV+ virus.
The following day we meet up with my long-term friends and after a little talk at the Willows Community Center where lovely cakes had been made to raise some funds for the children we then all went out to lunch at my favourite fish and chip restaurant. This is the meal that I miss the most whilst I live in Tanza, Talapia is just not the same as a piece of cod or haddock hanging over the sides of the plate.
Early Wednesday morning we are sitting on the train headed for Leeds where we meet our very dear friends from a catholic church who have held coffee morning and bingo evenings for us for over eight years. This relationship started when Bernard McMahon who visited LIA when we were living at Mailisita and a bond was formed and on most occasions that I travel to the UK I like to go and meet with our friends who have so loyally raised funds for our children each year. Bernard has also for many years sponsored Loveness who came into our care at a very young age and through photo’s and letters has seen Loveness develop into a beautiful young teenager.
In the afternoon we meet up with Tom who lives in York. Tom came out to Africa in 2000 with me and stayed until he was 17 years of age when he returned to the UK. We had lots to talk about as he is getting married at the end of October to Dawn and they are planning to honeymoon here at Light in Africa. I wondered if Tom could still remember the fluent Kiswahili that he had learnt so quickly when we arrived all those years ago and without a pause he was able once again to chat to Coupa in her mother tongue.
We return to our hotel and we are late arriving from Leeds and very patiently Mary and Brian who for many years has swum the cold lakes of England to raise funds and awareness of the needs of our children are sat in the foyer waiting our return. We hasten into the dining room before it closes and manage to give our dear friends a 'thank-you' meal and to catch up with all the local news. From their efforts Mary and Brian present Coupa and I with a cheque for seven hundred pounds. Mary has recently had a major operation on her knee and has been wheelchair bound with doting Brian attending to her every need. Thank you dear friends for your committment to our children.
The following day is 'family' day and I meet up with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren who have 'sprouted' up quite a bit over the last nine month's since I last saw them.
This was the end of our tour and we returned back to Tanzania only to find that for the last nine days they had had no electricity when some silly person stole the cables from the transformer and put the whole of our area in complete darkness....... sweet joy.