Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pre-Christmas Activities (Part 2)

This morning I posted about me and Amanda visiting Buhangija School early in December. Although it was a working visit for us, we were also preparing for the big Christmas Party she'd arranged for Saturday 20th December. 

In reply to one question from a reader, the center is in a town called Shinyanga which is 34 km from where we live in Mwadui. Amanda, and/or any of the other volunteers endeavor to visit the school at least twice a month.  

As usual all the women on camp pulled together and made toys, bangles, knitted hats, scarves and brought in dozens of games and other interesting items from South Africa.  Marita's sisters in South Africa, sent dozens of pencil cases, each one containing a flashlight - with batteries - and stationery. Louise' mum-in-law knitted beanies and brought them with her last week. Louise brought in cotton hats and dozens of knitted teddies. Nsia collected a huge pile of soft fluffy toys from friends in Tanzania.  
When making up Christmas parcels for 300 + children, we placed the items according to age. in large basins. Note the red and blue pencil cases; fluffy toys, mini-gadgets and games

During the year, Amanda made hundreds of toys and activity boards. To this effect I sent her all my empty containers. (our own recycling system here in Northern Tanzania) Amanda brought in huge bags of beads; I bought thin wire at Shinyanga General Dealers and subsequently made bracelets. Whenever we stay over in a B&B or hotel in Tanzania or in South Africa, I collect and bring back the mini soaps, toothbrushes and paste; shower caps; shower gel; shampoo; sewing kits and hand lotion. 

Amanda drove me around town;  I bought dozens of girls' and boys' underwear;  tubes of toothpaste, tubs of Vaseline; bottles of glycerin and every packet of lollipops and toffees available in town. Amanda bought cartons of mini-packets of biscuits and bottles of candy balls. We added scores of balloons and found some pretty Christmas decorations in the local dukas/shops. 

The men (who have real jobs!) gave of their time and helped with visits during the year or offered vehicles to transport food, sodas, clothes and water regularly. Recently they generously gave money towards items we had to buy for the party. 

On the 16th December, Steve's wife, Carolyn flew in from the UK. She's spending two weeks over Christmas and New Year here with him in Mwadui. After I met her, I said the best way to get to know the other ladies on camp, was to come with me and help make up parcels for the Christmas party. She and I walked up to Amanda's house; there we  met Louise' 80 year-old MIL, Joey, Louise, Debbie, Louise' daughter, Henricke and Amanda. Together we started to make up Christmas parcels. 

Carolyn and Joey filling bags with sweets, candy balls, biscuits, toys, pencils, games, jewelry as befitted the gender and ages of the children  
Carolyn loads the first of the sweets into the bag. There were hundreds of fruit chews,  toffees, lollipops and fizzers on the table ready to go into the bags
Hundreds of sweets again
A closer look at the variety of sweets and lollipops
A couple of the many toys Amanda made during the year

The day before this gathering of making up the goodie bags, my Guest House kitchen staff helped me to pop, fill and seal 10kg of popcorn kernels.
Chef Michael and Salome pop the corn on the stove
Pendo and Isaac filled the bags
While I sealed them
Huge garbage bags filled with paper bags of popcorn: 300 in all

Then the day of the PARTY!

Children excitedly check through their gift bags of toys, sweets, biscuits, balloons, pencils, books and more
Amanda and Clare with children around them 
Amanda's son, Zardo helps the little ones 
to wash their hands before lunch
The ladies served delicious stew and rice 
which Amanda had made in huge quantities in her home!
Huge cakes, baked and iced by Amanda and Debbie were served after the meal

Little Barak, the blind boy and the reason why Amanda and I  first became involved with Buhangija Center,  enjoyed the party just like the other children
Young Wessie shows off the face-paint that his sister, Henricke did for all the children

Henricke and Wessie with with several of the children. I love the two teenagers behind the group who seem to be showing off their lip gloss (one of the many girly items we placed in the big girls' bags)
This little lad proudly displays his bag of goodies
Two girls discuss the contents of their gift bags

Two hours of disco music had everyone, young and old on the floor
Omary dances with Barak while the other children jive energetically behind him
Louise is somewhere in there boogieing along with the children

Finally the food, cake and soda was finished. The gifts were greatly enjoyed. The music ended and the Friends of Buhagija, under leadership of Amanda bid the children and their carers/ matrons fond farewell. 

Here's wishing all my blogger friends all over the world a 


  1. a huge group effort and wonderful end result! :)

  2. Wow, what a party! That was an amazing display of caring and generosity on the part of the Mwadui camp ladies under the leadership of Amanda. I'm so impressed with such a kind heart and a tireless worker for those who have so little. May God richly bless Amanda and all of you who worked so closely with her. I can see the children are content and very happy with the attention they received. xx

  3. Amanda and her team of helpers are to be congratulated what a wonderful job you have done. The smiles on the children's faces says it all.

  4. Hi Jo. I must take off my hat especially to Amanda. She puts SO MUCH work into making this a truly fun event for the children. She is talented to make the things and be able to cook and bake large batches of goodies. Alonso to all the ladies, including you who help in various ways to make this a special time for the children. Well worth all the effort to see the smiles on their faces and their dance moves. great shots to go with the whole story. May I wih you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR

  5. Wow ! you all did a great job ! That's digging the way to heaven and certainly not to hell ! How wonderful to see such happy children with these goodies and toys ! The once here would just throw them in a corner that's the whole difference ! They have so many toys that one more or less doesn't make any difference !

  6. Hello Jo, looks like a great party and for the school children. I am sure they appreciated the gift bags, food and all the fun and attention... God Bless all of you who helped make the party a success.. I wish you and your family all the best in 2015. A very Happy & Healthy New Year!

  7. this is just so heartwarming and touching, i have shared your post from the past 3 days with my friends who do no blog.. God bless all of you for being their friends... and I pray god's blessings and protection on all of them and their caregivers.. thanks for sharing this.


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