Punctures, ditches and laughter (Part 3)

Along a bumpy road we went. Seeing a collapsed bridge. It brought it home how hard it is to access Ragata. Black clouds were forming and Arthur filled us with confidence “if it rains we must go. The rain will wash the roads away”. Thanks Arthur. 

As we pulled up to a school children were sat at their desks outside in the shade. Teachers walking to greet and welcome us. The community and the church members all sat awaiting to see us ... 3 hours later than expected. 


We took our seats. Tim’s heart started to pump more and more. Amazement, nerves, thanks. The welcoming began. The head teacher introduced himself and his teachers. The members of the church welcomed us and gave us their blessings. The school committee (the first committee we had seen of men and women) then introduced themselves. 


The group then introduced ourselves. Confidence at its highest speaking in Swahili. Tim was last to say thanks and share information about St James. A very humbling experience knowing the community and children stayed to greet us.


In true fashion. Arthur called us up to sing to Ragata. The ukulele was out. Stephen led us out and off we went. Asante Kwa Kutukarabisha. Laughter, cheers, clapping erupted. 


A group of girls turned up to greet us and share the celebrations. Arthur called them forward to speak to us. These girls were from a local secondary school and had walked 3km to greet us. They shared their dreams for the future. To become teachers, doctors, journalists, nurses and pilots. To come from such a remote area and to have such dreams touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes.


A drum beat built up. The singing and dancing began. The confidence of the children was great to see. They took great pride in their performance. Kate was invited up to do her thing. She did this expertly and could’ve fitted into the Tanzania dancing.


We took our seats. Tim’s heart started to pump more and more. Amazement, nerves, thanks. The welcoming began. The head teacher introduced himself and his teachers. The members of the church welcomed us and gave us their blessings. The school committee (the first committee we had seen of men and women) then introduced themselves. 


The group then introduced ourselves. Confidence at its highest speaking in Swahili. Tim was last to say thanks and share information about St James. A very humbling experience knowing the community and children stayed to greet us.


In true fashion. Arthur called us up to sing to Ragata. The ukulele was out. Stephen led us out and off we went. Asante Kwa Kutukarabisha. Laughter, cheers, clapping erupted. 


A group of girls turned up to greet us and share the celebrations. Arthur called them forward to speak to us. These girls were from a local secondary school and had walked 3km to greet us. They shared their dreams for the future. To become teachers, doctors, journalists, nurses and pilots. To come from such a remote area and to have such dreams touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes.


A drum beat built up. The singing and dancing began. The confidence of the children was great to see. They took great pride in their performance. Kate was invited up to do her thing. She did this expertly and could’ve fitted into the Tanzania dancing.


We then experienced something new from our visit. A poem with dancing. The children had a verse each about the story of guests visiting and their excitement. After each verse the child danced and laughter started. The end of the poem said thanks to St James for their support and partnership and that we are welcome in their community. Heart strings plucked. Emotions building up again.


Now it was challenge time. Can we walk with a container full of water on our heads with no hands? Diane and Tim stepped forward to take on the challenge. Wow! How can these ladies walk kilometre after kilometre with this on their heads. We struggled to walk 10 metres, but at least neither of us dropped it! Another experience in the bag.



It now came to the gift exchange. Ragata presented Tim with baskets with St James and Ragata painted on and some material. One of the teachers wrapped Tim in the material and spoke in Swahili. When translated she said “thank you for your link. Thank you for visiting. You are now part of Ragata. When you visit we care for you”. Tim held back the tears for such an emotional and amazing gift.



Tim presented Ragata with gifts from St James and RWE. The school and children were grateful for the gifts. The smiles shone again! The cheering grew louder. A partnership was growing already. 


The school invited us for food. The priest, the community members, the school committee and teachers joined us. A real sense of togetherness and support was apparent. These people want the best for their children and want to work as a partnership to achieve these dreams.


During the meal Tim asked Arthur about the laughter during the children’s dance. He replied that it is a sign of encouragement. The more they laugh the more the children will dance. What a shock! Comparing that to England. If this happened embarrassment and a drop in confidence. Such a difference in culture!


Tim went for a walk around the school with one of the teachers Robert. Eyes wide open. We walked into a classroom of 15 standard 7 children staying after school to continue their work. Once they saw guests enter. They stopped and stood up to show their respects. Very shy children. Tim said hello and taught them his classroom celebration. They were reluctant to do it. But as we left the classroom. The “wheyyyyy” cheer was heard and the children were jumping around joining in. A smile was brought to Tim’s face. 


Across the courtyard we went into a very derelict, run down classroom. Bricks missing, part of the roof destroyed, a huge crack down the back wall. Robert told Tim they can’t use this classroom because of the safety condition. But still had to be used for the nursery children. Robert then told Tim another one of the classrooms is in such a bad way it isn’t safe to be used.



Ragata has 8 classrooms and 640 children. 2 classrooms are out of use most for the time. But was there a sad face? Were the children moaning? No. They smiled. Played and laughed. 


Tim shared with the group that St James Academy, the Parish of Chaplethorpe and Durkar FC would be working in partnership to work with Ragata to help with the development of the school and the local area. Applause and thanks echoed around the room. 


The Ragata community shared how they will keep the partnership alive with us! They will pray for us. They will continue to love us. They will work together to help develop their school and community. The partnership between ourselves instantly felt like it was getting stronger.


It was time to leave. The whole school still there. One last time for Tim to say thank you and goodbye. The school stood together. Tim joined in. Surrounded by the children all cheering “wheyyyyy” and doing Tim’s favourite celebration. The children, the staff, the community representatives continued to laugh.



All the adults came to say goodbye. The local priest said he would pray for Tim and all the partners who are supporting Ragata.


Walking to the bus. The children continued to swarm to say goodbye! The children joined in with the St James and Ragata chants! Onto the bus. Pause. Children stood by the door waiting ... Tim jumps off for one more celebration and cheer with the children.



An amazing visit. An amazing experience. A school and community which matched the personality and energy of Tim. A link school which will grow stronger and stronger!
 

Scroll to Top