Lost in our own minds, and the thought of finding back to civilization before nightfall. Five days earlier we had landed in Tanzania, and here our annual family vacation began. Even though we had had a truly unforgettable trip to Bahamas last year, this vacation would prove to turn our lives upside down in a way that never had imagined. It was now eight hours since we had left the hotel to visit the famous Engorging crater with our local guide, Tom.
I ran up besides him and asked, “What time is dirt Tom looked down at me and answered, “l don’t know Emily. My phone is out of power. ” So what was the time now? 5 p. M.? 6 p. M.? I did not know, but the one thing I knew for sure was that wished I never had agreed to go on this stupid trip. Suddenly, Tom stopped. The darkness was surrounding us, and against all odds, we were back to where we started. We had been walking in circles. Could not breathe anymore. The more I thought about our situation, the more I panicked. Just when I thought the situation could not get any worse, e began to hear noises from the bushes.
We were moving forward in a walking pace, but slowly we began running, faster and faster until we could not see our own feet moving anymore. At least Tom was also looking around him, and luckily his eyes found a light, “Hey, look at that! Over there, between the bushes! ” We changed our direction, but sustained our pace. Even though there were only about 1000 feet to the light, it felt like it took forever to reach it after such a frightening day in the sun. As we came closer, we could see that the light was illuminating a sign, “Affair Primary School – Providing a life of opportunities to disabled children. . About 50 feet behind the sign there was a house, and on front porch some men were sitting and talking. Tom approached them, and began speaking with them on Swahili -? I did not understand one word of it. After a while he waved us over, and said that we could borrow one of the schools shacks overnight. During the night I had a hard time sleeping and the mysterious noises that came from outside the shack did not make it any easier. I was looking at the stars trough the window, and asked myself how it could be that this kind of school was located so far away from civilization.
The others were sleeping, so had to wait until the next day to get an answer. The next morning I woke up to the sound of children murmuring outside the shack. Was not sure whether I was fully awake, or still in some kind of trance. Shook my head while rubbing my eyes, and there they were; four beautiful little Tanzania looking through the window. Looked around me and found that the others were not there, so perhaps it was time to get up. When I came out of the shack I saw my older brother running around playing football with mom of the boys. On the porch my mom was sitting with a few of the girls, sewing.
And last, but not least, my father was running around taking pictures of every little thing he got his eyes on. I loved the way my family could not care less about the children’s ethnicity, identity or language. Tom stood next to the porch, and was enjoying the shade from the palm trees. I strolled happily towards Tom while trying to take everything in, which was nearly impossible. “Tom”, I said, “How come this school is placed way out here, and not in the city? ” Tom kneeled, “Emily, throughout history indicated children have been avoided by the African society, even by their own families.
While the treatment and acceptance of handicapped children has improved, the fact is that without a primary education, which hopefully leads to an academic future, the handicapped children in Tanzania are most likely destined for a life of despair and dependence on others. ” I was shocked. How could a family give up on their child just because of their physical disabilities? What if my parent gave up on me? I could not bear the thought. If was not shocked enough, later that day during lunch I overheard a male employee tell a young girl in Swahili, “Washing lazily kuaka saffron kulak Chula hay ill Waveland wander kuaka juju hay Vita ” ..
I did not know what he said, but based on Tom’s reaction could tell that it was not something nice. After some time Tom walked out of the room. I ran after him to ask what it was the man had said since it made him so upset. First he would not tell me, but after a few minutes he looked at me and said, “I’m sorry for my temper, but I couldn’t stand hearing his comment to the little girl. ” “What did he say? ” I asked. He took a deep breath and said, “He said that girls should sit on the lour to eat their food, so that the boys can sit on the chairs. ” I did not know what to say, I was stunned. Ad never thought that would witness this kind of discrimination. Tom continued, “l can’t tolerate it. Today live in a world with a growing acceptance between people, both regarding different religions, cultures and values. Today you do not raise your children the way your parents raised you; they are born in a different time. And today you certainly do not discriminate based on gender. I detest that kind of outlook on life. ” Before had the chance to answer Tom, a car drove up to the house. It was en Of the other local guides from our hotel, and he had come to take us home.
Within five minutes time, my family and I were ready to go. On the trip back to the hotel I did not say a word. All I could think of was how these children’s own parents gave up on them, and the words Tom had spoken right before we left. Suddenly, felt very lucky to have the life I had back home in the States. had never been more grateful for having the parents that I do, and the fact that I was able to share my few minutes of precious life with them. But in the midst of all this self-knowledge, I felt guilt like I never felt it before.