Friday blog update …

an evening of celebration ensued … we had a lovely dinner at the hotel, accompanied by our guests from the school … a lovely buzz filled the room as our students talked to the teachers and shared experiences from the last week. Fred then took over as master of ceremonies and talked to the students about the work they have done, the lives they have touched and the changes in mentality they have helped to make. He praised them for the hard work they had committed to to raise the money to get themselves here, he praised the parents for the support they have provided and for the many donations that we brought with us from football kits, to rounders sets, laptops to chalks, shoes to T-shirt’s and the support that provides for Umonga.

He also thanked the staff who had accompanied me; Miss Hackett and Miss Barnes for the work they did in preparation and throughout the trip … and then we were presented with a certificate from African Adventures recognising the work we had completed.

He then asked whether four students would stand and say something about their experience … and Keira, Lucy, Barney and Bailey volunteered … they all talked about this as a life changing experience, that they appreciate far more what they have and what some do not have … when I stood to speak I admitted to the students that what they had said had made me feel quite emotional because they had confirmed what I had hoped they would say.

Fred deserves a few words of acclamation … he has done all of the donkey work that makes the trip feel easy to us … he is a lovely, personable chap and nothing is to much trouble … whether it’s finding how to report lost money to the police, find a way to get to the airport very early to change money or work with coach companies to ensure that we get to where we are supposed to be … we are blessed to have him support us on behalf of African Adventures.

And then the main event … three students had birthdays whilst away … Hayden early on, Barney on 25th and Nancy on 26th … we had arranged a cake (thanks to Nancy’s mum for alerting us to Nancy and then we found out about the others) through the cook at Umonga and what a great cake … all three students names, the flag of Tanzania and a rousing chorus of happy birthday ringing through the restaurant … they looked suitably pleased and everyone was happy to be eating cake!

The final task of the evening was in your own room by 10, pack for an early start, lights out at 10.30 when we will be coming around to check your packing … and being the great kids they are, after lots of hilarity throughout the evening, they settled, completed the task and are settling down to sleep … one task for me to do, to tot up the bar bill for each students and work out how much they owe, how much I might still owe them and then do my own packing … after getting the blog to upload (hopefully) …

On the subject of money … everything has been done through the bank of Mr Loveday because of the way things have happened on this trip … it’s been easier for me to collect money and go to the exchange and then distribute Tanzanian shillingi …. however, when I do that they always give it mostly in 10,000 tsh notes … so I have running totals for this student and that who owes me because we were in a shop and they wanted something but had forgotten their money, or I gave them 50,000 tsh when the exchange rate meant it should have been 53,000 so I owe them … and then we need to settle the bar bill … I think I’ve got it pretty well sorted but after the first exchange I did dole out all the money, looked at how many odd 1000 or 3000 I still owed and looked at what was left for mine and came up a bit short! Hey ho … I’m sure it will all sort itself out in the long term …

Quick update on the plans for the next couple of days before I sign off …

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we are leaving at 8.30 … it’s a long day of travel with between four and five hours back to Morogoro where we will have lunch … in a much better place than on the way out! It is then probably four hours to Mikumi because the roads aren’t so good … meaning a long day in a coach. Sunday we are having a whole day game drive … which is a better option than two part days as originally advertised … and then on Monday morning, all the students have paid the extra to visit the Masai village. Monday afternoon we head back to Dar, to the catholic secretariat, where we will stay until lunchtime on Tuesday before going to the airport.

Let’s hope WiFi is up and I can get this post off before bed … night all … next report from the hotel by the game park … volunteering over, touristing beginning …

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