I'm going to Mwanza - really?
It's now just a few weeks till I leave for Mwanza to join Claire and help out for a while at Pikilily. But let me take you back a while to where the idea to volunteer for a Social Enterprise in Africa first took hold in me.
Driving back from a visit to my daughter in Wales I like to listen to random podcasts. I know that if they cover Psychology, Philosophy, Cosmology or Adventure Bike riding I'm going to have a great journey home. And before you ask, yes, I am a boring dinner guest. I like the randomness of letting them just play too, not really choosing which episodes you hear or what order as often what you least expect to inspire you actually widens your perspectives. Like 'Lenses - polishing as a hobby'. That really widens your perspective.
Random podcast from Adventure Bike Rider radio is playing as I cross the Severn Bridge and wonder why you only pay when you enter Wales and not when you leave. It's an interview with Claire Elsdon who is already a superhuman pod person in my book because of her decision to leave a great job in London and ride her motorbike from London to Cape Town. But there was much more to her story and it immediately got me sitting up in the driving seat and perky as a Meercat on stilts.
You see Claire is inspirational because she saw an immense problem and didn't think, 'oh I'm just one person, what can I do?' but instead she just thought, 'what can I do?'. It turns out, just follow your heart. The problem is that in Tanzania, along with many other developing countries, road deaths are a major killer and many of them are totally avoidable. Poor or zero bike maintenance, training, safety awareness are killing people daily. People who have other lives depending on them. What happens to the children of those parents killed on the roads? It's not a good outcome. Then there's the pregnant mothers who can't get to hospital to have their baby because there's no transport. So they die in childbirth, 24 of them daily it's estimated. These are things that Claire is doing something about - improving awareness, training on road safety, training on maintenance, establishing a motorbike ambulance service. It's working, but it needs more help. I just knew this was something I wanted to get involved in.
As soon as I got home I listened again to the podcast and emailed Claire. Great, she said, I could be useful. I'd practically already packed.
This is the first blog of what I hope will be several charting my time in Tanzania. Who knows where this will lead, I certainly don't have a clue, but I - like Claire - am ready to find out.