Representatives of the Stouffville Igoma Partnership are planning their next visit to the Tanzanian community this spring.
The tentative departure date for the three week trip is around the end of May, said Lou Geense, teaching/coordinating pastor at EastRidge Missionary Church. SIP is planning to do some expansion work of the laboratory at the clinic this year, and also hopes to add a reading room for the children of Igoma. “From the church side of things, we are going to help build a church in a village about 40 to 50 kilometres away,” said Pastor Geense.
Organizers are always pleased to hear from people who would like to get involved, he said. “There are a couple of ways to help, depending on what skill sets we’re looking for; maybe carpenters or other general trades people. And we will still need some financial donations and donations of simple tools like hammers, aprons and tape.”
Volunteers raise their own funds to cover airfare and accommodation and the church provides a letter to assist them. The total cost for each individual is about $3,500, not including immunizations. Approximately 35 people have taken part to date.
“Some go over and don’t adjust well, because it’s primitive and you have to learn to rough it,” he noted. This year, for the first time, volunteers will be asked to attend an orientation session so they will know what to expect when they arrive in Tanzania.
Pastor Geense himself has been to the country about eight times. “I had never been on a plane before my first visit in 1988 to help build an orphanage. The initial shock was how naive I was about the Third World. I sort of thought the capital would be a bit like Toronto and I was taken aback to see how impoverished it was.”
It took him only about two days to acclimatize, thanks to the generosity and incredible friendliness of the people, he said. “Once I got to know the people, I just fell in love with the place.”
The journey to Igoma includes stop-offs in London, England and Dar es Salaam. “From there we fly to Mwanza (a city in northwestern Tanzania) where we are greeted by our hosts, usually a group of church people.” The final stage of the journey to Igoma, a distance of about 45 km, is by road.
Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering with the Stouffville Igoma Partnership, or who would like to donate money or supplies, can contact EastRidge Missionary Church at 905-640-3911 or visit www.sipartnership.org.
By Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville Free Press