In December, I have been in contact with various elementary schools and families in Fredrikstad. Together, we have collected large amounts of clothes, shoes, toys, and school supplies. All contributions have been equally important. Today, I finally had the opportunity to travel to an extremely poor village to deliver all the contributions. Additionally, we purchased 60kg of rice and 50kg of sugar because these are essential items.
The journey started at 9 in the morning on December 19th. I had connected with an incredibly kind local man who guided us to the village. Already on the way to the village, we were stopped by the police without any specific reason. We were told that we could proceed without any issues if we secretly gave him extra money. Eventually, we had no choice but to pay. This highlights the significant difference between Tanzania and Norway; these differences are largely based on the economic disparities between the nations. Eventually, we arrived at a smaller village hidden in the forest. The village was marked by extreme poverty.
The entire village lived in makeshift houses constructed from bamboo, plastic, palm leaves, and other materials they had come across. Families lived together in small bedrooms; only a very few had mattresses to sleep on. Even though these families had very little, they found joy in the smallest things. Everything from sticks they used for limbo competitions, fruit peels for various ball activities, to sticks they crafted into small figures. The town was full of desperate mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents doing everything they can to survive. When we distributed the food and clothes, there was a struggle among the residents to get the best items. Eventually, everyone calmed down, and things were distributed fairly among the different families. Additionally, we donated money to the village so they could buy cooking oil. In this village, every single day is a fight for life. When they wake up in the morning, they have no predictability about what the day will bring. They lack technology, beds, running water, or motorized vehicles. In contrast, back in Norway, we often complain about not having the latest version of phones or similar things. Next time, we should rather think about those who have nothing.
On the way back from the village, unfortunately, we were stopped again by the police, without any specific reason. Our guide encouraged us to hide our valuables, avoid making eye contact with the police, and speak as little as possible. It ended with us being coerced into paying money again. It’s truly disheartening to think that poverty is so widespread in different countries that one can’t even trust the state officials who are supposed to keep the population safe. Tanzania, in general, has issues with corruption within its own government, which leads to money not being used as it should.
Throughout the trip, I had tears in the corners of my eyes and a lump in my throat. The journey back from the village was filled with thoughts and silence. All in all, the trip was incredibly educational. I couldn’t be happier with my own efforts and those of others.
As human beings, we must stop believing that there’s another planet Earth somewhere; we have only one world, and everyone must collaborate to sustain it. Likewise, we must take care of everyone living on it. In the grand scheme, there’s no «us» or «them,» only «we» as a community. Everyone depends on each other. Therefore, I encourage anyone with the opportunity to do something similar the next time they travel to a less economically developed country. There are many ways to contribute, and nothing is too big or too small. If there are people we should look up to, it’s exactly them. Their entire lives are built on finding joy in family, community, and the few things they have. They create a life filled with music and dance. All the incredible contributions we gathered helped create better opportunities for the most vulnerable. They were incredibly grateful for everything we provided to them. Asanta sana (thank you for a long and happy life). If you wish to work with me, contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.