On October 5, 2011, Darrell, Fredda, Taylor, and Braeden Benton, Diane and Eugene Bell, Brenda deMartine, and Aeron Goldhart traveled to Arusha, TZ to attend the Grand Opening ceremonies of the new JustUsFriends Medical Clinic, “Loren’s Hope”. After a long plane ride, we landed in Kilimanjaro Airport to be warmly greeted by our friends in Tanzania, Jasen, Lucas, Ben, Ally, Alli K, and Jigard. They had arranged for us to breeze right through customs which was greatly appreciated after traveling for 20 hours and carrying sixteen bags full of supplies needed for the clinic and kids. We so enjoyed finally getting to meet, in person, these friends who have been helping us on the ground for the last six months.
The following day, we traveled from Arusha to the GoodHope Compound, where the clinic is located, in a small village about 5 Km outside of Arusha known as Sombetini. We found the clinic to be complete and to be the most beautiful building in the village. I should stop right here and say that we were all amazed that Jasen and Ally have been able to accomplish the completion of our building in such a short time. You see many unfinished building structures in Arusha, mostly due to the fact that financing is non-existent, so most people just build a little as they can afford it. As everyone kept telling us, TIA (This is Africa). No one gets in a hurry, We were all soon quoting quite frequently, the saying from the Lion King, “Hakuna Matata” (no worry no problem)!
Our first day on the compound was full of hard work preparing for the next day Grand Opening Ceremony. Taylor and Braeden, local children, Fatuma, and many others, helped put in lava walkpaths, which our friend Lit Anderson from New York had been busy getting built. Lit had the property looking so beautiful when we arrived. I am not sure how many trees and plants she planted, but well over 200. By next Spring, the grounds are going to be a showcase. Jigard worked hard that day getting the tents set up and band stand and PA system operable for our entertainment band, Warriors from the East.
Saturday, the festivities began. There were over 411 who attended, including many children. We had orphan children from Jane’s Kids, Living Waters, and GoodHope. They all performed for us which was so wonderful. I did not expect the children of Africa to know the song, “Found a Peanut”. The Tanzania Minister of Health and Education spoke and honored JustUsFriends as being “pioneers” in our efforts in helping their children. Two meals were served to all that attended that day and the party continued well into the night. It was so wonderful.
The next week was spent going to markets to purchase items much needed for the compound. We could not have done this without our friend Fatuma. You have not lived until you shop at an African Market. Fatuma was great at getting more bang for our buck! We purchased all the children new blankets, sheets, towels, sweaters, socks, underwear, shoes, pajamas, and material to have their uniforms made. In addition, we purchased them a refrigerator, and water dispenser.
During our time on the compound, I must say, even though we were doing things to help them, we learned just as much from them. These people are beautiful, loving grateful people, who are working very hard to make a difference in their lives. They are extremely happy and unstressed. Which is amazing when you see how hard it is to do anything in Africa. Nothing comes easy. I am so blessed to have them all in my life. We are all one and family.
I would like to close with a paragraph written by our 11 year old Braeden who wrote a paper on his travels to Africa. He states it best!
“What I learned from my trip was that happiness is not created in stuff, but with helping others who need it. I will continue to do what little I can to help these kids get an education and learn how to be healthy so they can grow up and help their own.”