It’s early in the morning, but the lounge at Mtwara airport is already filling up when the 10 members of the PWRDF’s delegation to the diocese of Masasi file through security.
While waiting for the plane that will take them to Dar es Salaam before they begin the long journey back to Canada, they reflect on what they have seen and learned during the week they have just spent learning about the PWRDF’s work in southern Tanzania.
Chris Pharo, PWRDF diocesan representative for the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said he was struck by how significant an effect a relatively small investment can make.
Recalling a small rural clinic in the village of Mwenge outfitted with solar panels for $1,000, Pharo noted how much of an impact it had on the lives of the villagers.
“Women can now go to the clinic during the night hours, which has been a huge, huge benefit to the village community at large.”
Elin Goulden, social justice and advocacy consultant for the diocese of Toronto, said she was impressed with the degree to which the project is implemented by local people.
“Really, the local people run the project,” she said. “It’s more about empowering them to take ownership of their own development. And that is really positive.”
For Asha Kerr-Wilson, a member of the PWRDF youth council and PWRDF board member, one of the important insights gained over the course of the week was the degree of similarity between the challenges faced by youth in Tanzania and youth in Canada, specifically regarding difficulties experienced in finding employment.
“It really put in perspective how there is a lot of similarities between Tanzania and Canada,” she said. “We sort of think of it as an us and them, but there is a lot of commonality.”
The boarding call comes, and the delegates carry their bags, now swollen with gifts of fabric and local cashew nuts from the diocesan office, out onto the tarmac. When the plane takes off, southern Tanzania becomes nothing more than a smudge of green, low on the horizon.
But the for the delegates, who have been tasked with carrying the stories they have seen and heard back to their home dioceses, it is much more than that.