MUSOMA, Tanzania (CNN) -- Lizzie Cameron is in Musoma, Tanzania working with the Musoma Engineering Project.
"The buses are independently owned by the local people and are all painted, by hand, in various eye-catching colors and patterns."
The Musoma Engineering Project is the only charity of its kind in the region and aims to provide teaching and support for local disabled children and teenagers.
With the project Lizzie will be helping the teachers teach skills like woodworking, leatherwork and dressmaking. Follow her experiences in her blogs and video diaries.
October 30, 2007
Dennis and I have just returned from Mwanza. We did the five hour journey in proper African style this time and took the local public bus. The buses are independently owned by the local people and are all painted, by hand, in various eye-catching colors and patterns.
After fighting our way onto a jam-packed bus we managed to squeeze ourselves into two seats next to a window (something I was very thankful of when the midday sun hit). People continued boarding, some carrying products they had bought in Musoma -- one man boarded with a few live chickens.
Throughout the journey we stopped at little rural villages allowing people to jump off and on the bus. With each stop, men and women scurried around trying to sell bananas and peanuts through the bus windows.
For a two hour stretch a preacher came on and entertained us with some readings from the bible (which I was unable to understand as they were in Swahili) interrupted by a few interludes of singing.
The journey was great to experience, but our purpose was an important one; we were going to visit companies to ask them to support our disabled sports day, which is taking place on the December 2. The Musoma Engineering Project is trying to organize this for a few reasons, the main one being to raise awareness of issues surrounding disability within the community and to encourage social integration.
We are also going to launch the new name of the center. Dennis felt that as the school has grown, the name didn't portray all that the center had to offer and was quite misleading, so has decided to change it to "Lake Victoria Disability Centre."
Throughout the day there will be a sponsored tricycle race, games such as tug-of-war, football and an egg-and-spoon race. Stalls will also be set up for individuals or groups to sell their craftwork. At the end of the evening we are organizing a dinner and dance for about 300 of the disabled youths at a local hotel.
We are hoping that hundreds of people from all around Mara will turn out. The event is really important to integrate the able and disabled members of the community. There is very little support available to people with disabilities and more often than not they are deprived of basic human rights. Dennis was telling me, that in some communities, if a family has a child that has additional needs, they often believe that it is a curse from God and hide their child from the rest of society in shame.
While in Mwanza we visited Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, the communication company Celtel and a few banks asking them if they would be willing to help us in some way, be it by through funding or providing their marketing material which we can use as prizes. We were really pleased with the response from people and are hopeful some may be willing to support us.
The communication company, Celtel, has already offered to produce 25 tricycles. The tricycles will have a box on the back that will contain a pay phone. Any money that is made from the phone will go to the disabled person who rides the tricycle, providing them with a small form of income. E-mail to a friend