In part one of this story posted several months ago you read about a young woman who had helped me after I had become a bit lost while hiking…a young woman who had touch me maybe because she represented both the beauty and the sorrow of the people of Tanzania. Struggling with difficult living conditions and yet ready to extend friendship and hospitality.
When I left her that day I promised to get lost again and come for a visit. I had bought a few staples (sugar, rice, beans, tea) and assembled several items visitors had left (soap, a skirt, kids toys). But these items sat in the closet for several months. I wanted to deliver it to her, but was waiting for the right opportunity. Culturally, it seemed to me it would be best to have some females along…but I know of no Tanzanian women who want to walk just for fun (maybe because they walk so much otherwise) finally I found a couple willing Dutch medical students to go along.
Last Saturday we began hiking up up and with surprising ease again got a bit lost in the same area, and by asking (using Rehema’s dead husbands name, and noting that she had twins) people directed her to her home. The twins were there and some other kids and people…but no Rehema. So we hiked a little further up the trail and sat for a rest enjoying a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro. After about a half hour we returned to Rehema’s home. This is a most modest block building, with tin roof, no glass, smoky cooking fire and livestock in the back. Kids and chickens running around in front.Still no Rehema.
With reluctance, I left the bags of goods with the woman watching the kids, giving her some soap but stressing that these things were for Rehema…and no one else. It was a disappointment, but at least I knew she would have a few things as I had kept my promise to return. We soon departed and after we had gone about 15 minutes down the trail, we had a young woman run up behind us -Rehema. She was all out of breath; mostly from her rapid run but also from the excitement of have us visitors come.
I was able to introduce her to the Dutch students and ask some questions. She wished us to return to her house for a visit but the students were out of time. I asked if I could take her picture. It turns out she lives near a Lutheran sub parish and I think I know how to drive there now…so told her I would try to come for services one Sunday.
The big questions remain: Is she HIV positive? The kids? Even if not, how will they survive this year and the next? It is a story that one is surrounded by in Tanzania. Everyone is scratching to get by. And yet, when they are able, they give you their beautiful smiles.