As Tanzanians head to the polls today to choose a President and Parliament and maybe oust the longtime ruling CCM from power—although most polls favor the CCM and incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete—Karimu’s less momentous work inches forward. In my October 1 post I mentioned that I had not contacted the Bishop of the Tanzanian Lutheran Church’s North Central Diocese to try to bring order to the Lutherans’ participation in the women’s healthcare initiative we had proposed in Dareda Kati Village. I didn’t want to embarrass any of the Dareda Kati Lutherans in front of their Bishop and I wanted to keep Karimu out of the middle of a dispute between Tanzanians which the Tanzanians themselves need to settle. I had also received word that the Babati District Medical Officer would bar involvement by the Integrated Agricultural Training Center, built and maintained by the Lutheran North Central Diocese, in healthcare.
However, now somebody else apparently has contacted the Bishop: the Diocesan General Secretary has just e-mailed me to confirm the Diocese’s approval of switching the Center’s emphasis from agriculture to healthcare. So the Bishop’s office—far better equipped than Karimu for this—can talk to the District Medical Officer about whether he would relax his prohibition. Meanwhile the midwives continue to meet to discuss women’s health needs and, in California, we wait.
Karimu’s attempt to supply clean drinking water to the children and teachers of Ufani Primary School also drags along. From Babati, Joas Kahembe has reported concerns about where to install the holding tank for the water so that gravity will help rather than hinder its flow to the teachers’ apartments. Joas has asked for advice from our water specialist, Tiffany Wise-West, yet unfortunately their e-mails back and forth only produce confusion. And if telephone reception remains as poor as when we called Joas at Christmas, that won’t do any good, either. Skype? I doubt Joas’ old desktop could handle it. I still think we can work this out without need for Tiffany to travel to the village, which she can’t do until next August, but it will require more patience from all of us.
As for Karimu’s plan to get fuel-efficient, low-emissions StoveTec rocket stoves to villagers who will use them, Dr. Susan Hughmanick believes she has a donor. Paul, Ufani School’s head teacher, counts one hundred ninety-three families sending children to Ufani, a figure we think will not intimidate Susan’s donor. We need to look at different possible sources for the stoves and will try to obtain them from not too far away—perhaps Uganda—if we can.
My worries about what today’s election will mean for Tanzania exacerbate the frustration of not being able to communicate smoothly with our friends there. My tiny number of Tanzanian friends with easy Internet access have e-mailed to request my prayers for their country while the leading opposition candidate, Dr. Willibrod Slaa, the likely winner according to some polls, claims he has received messages from his supporters and campaign workers about frequent “irregularities” in the voting. Mere posturing by Dr. Slaa? I hope so.—Don Stoll