“It’s another winters day in Ipalamwa or as I like to think of it, ‘Christmas Village in Tanzania.’

Retired professor and avid amateur photographer Dr. Candice Francis and her husband Mike like to combine service work with their travels for pleasure. To celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary this year they traveled to Ipalamwa, Tanzania to take part in the RCP (Reaching Children’s Potential) project. Here Candice shares her thoughts with her excerpt from the team journal.

Message of the day:|
“Winnie the Pooh tells Christopher Robin: ‘you are BRAVER than you imagine, STRONGER than you seem, and SMARTER than you think.’
After spending a week in Ipalamwa, you know that you are all of these and more blessed than many. Our job here was to help the people of Ipalamwa become BRAVER, STRONGER, and SMARTER.

“It’s another “winters” day in Ipalamwa or as I like to think of it, ‘Christmas Village in Tanzania.’ It is a place where frost doesn’t seem to happen but the daytime temperatures have difficulty breaking into the 70s. The forests are bright green and the house and roads that seem to lead somewhere are brick red. Everywhere there is the aroma of the wood-burning stoves that are used for cooking. Each day brings us dozens of brightly wrapped packages in the form of women and children. I think of them as gifts, but I am told that they are the ones who are grateful that we are here.

Mother and children participate on the RCP program in Ipalamwa, Tanzania

Mother and children participate in the RCP program in Ipalamwa, Tanzania.

In Ipalamwa, home visits, workshops, English camp, and a fourth church got painted today: casual encounters with the local fauna like noisy roosters, hens with fluffy chicks, smiling goats, puppies, a cat, cows, and pigs all contribute to the color of our experience.

It seems as though I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine that at times, is anything but comfortable. Like at today’s education workshop that veered off into a conversation about how and when mothers should discuss with their daughters the changes that come with puberty and sexuality. We laughed and were serious- comfortable yet uncomfortable.

RCP workshops in Ipalamwa, Tanzania.

RCP workshops in Ipalamwa, Tanzania.

As I reflect on the day, I can’t help but wonder if, how, and when those 11 women from Impalamwa will have those conversations with their daughters. And what about the other hundreds of women and girls that weren’t here today? I try to imagine what this place will look like in 1 year, much less 5 years.

Now with the new building, a garden, mothers, and children lined up for a clinic that has actual equipment and medicines. How many more mothers will have joined the program? How will Global Volunteers and ELCT be able to support the increased demands here in Ipalamwa and the surrounding area as word spreads about the benefits?

My brain is overwhelmed thinking about this vision and leadership that have brought us this far. And then I remember that I am just one person, doing the best I can to make at least one person’s life a bit better, even if it is just for the short time we share on Earth.

Best day ever!”

42nd Wedding Anniversary for Candice and Mike in Ipalamwa, Tanzania (photo credit Lacey Hites)

42nd Wedding Anniversary for Candice and Mike in Ipalamwa, Tanzania (photo credit Lacey Hites)

“We talked about the importance of acceptance and reflection, privilege and opportunity. On the way back, we ran into Mike and Candy. They were emotional about leaving but ready to go. The value they felt for being able to meet and impact the community here was visible in their faces and words. Mike talked about how glad he was for being able to make a difference for one man in particula.”

– (fellow volunteer Lacey Hites).

 Interested in viewing some great photos from Ipalamwa, Tanzania? Check out  Dr. Candice Francis photography website here!

Related posts on this topic:

If you ask me about being a volunteer in Africa.

Volunteers help Tanzanian children in new health center.




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