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    Labours of Love

    For one group of dedicated volunteers, their time at a Salvation Army school for disabled children in Tanzania will stay with them forever. November 14, 2013 by Carson Samson
    Filed Under:
    Faith & Friends
    It was 33 C in the shade and there I was atop a tin roof on teetering scaffolding, sawing, hammering, lifting—and me afraid of heights! I was thousands of kilometres from my home in Winnipeg and light-years away from my profession as a designer/photographer. My hands were calloused from hammering, my T-shirt was drenched with sweat, and I was light-headed from the furnace-like heat and the height. What had brought me here? I wondered, as I wiped the sweat away from my eyes.

    The Salvation Army - Salvationist.ca - Labours Of Love Working on the interior renovations


    Work Boots and Bare Feet
    Just a few days earlier, 12 of us Canadians came together to travel to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on behalf of The Salvation Army. Our goal: to renovate the prosthetics workshop at The Salvation Army's Matumaini school for disabled children.

    After a long flight, we arrived late in the evening and settled into our accommodations for our 16-day stay. Little more than huts, they were a far cry from what I was used to at home. Some of us slept. Others, such as myself, waited sleepless for daylight and the hard work ahead of us. All of us wondered what God had in store for us in this faraway land.

    The next few days were a sweaty-hot blur of work. We'd rise with the sun, grab a hurried breakfast and get to it. At day's end, we'd snatch a bit of supper and collapse in our cots, exhausted.

    After 16 days, we had demolished the existing roof of the workshop and raised it by two feet. We replaced the ceiling, rewired the electrical system, enlarged windows, closed in unwanted doorways, and painted both the interior and exterior walls.

    We didn't do it alone, though. We hired a small crew of local masons and carpenters to assist us. They shook their heads at our power tools and work boots, and we marvelled at how they could accomplish so much with hand tools and bare feet.

    The Salvation Army - Salvationist.ca - Labours Of Love Salvation Army Cadet Crystal Porter connects with the children of Matumaini


    Teaching Thanksgiving
    If we went to Tanzania hoping to make a difference in the lives of others, I think we succeeded. What also happened, however, was that the children of Matumaini had an indescribable impact on us. It was they who made the difference in our lives.

    Matumaini is home to some 200 disabled and albino children who all live on the compound. Some are missing limbs, or have misshapen ones. Some are confined to wheelchairs. None of them are upset or bitter that they are not like able-bodied children. They run faster and play soccer with more skill than most. Those who can walk on their own push and carry those who can't. They are filled with joy— happy to be together and happy to be children of God.

    One night as I strolled around the compound, I wandered into a chapel service that the children were leading. No adults or teachers, just them. They filled a large room with songs and prayers of praise and worship.

    The Salvation Army - Salvationist.ca - Labours Of Love Carson Samson (centre) felt privileged to be a part of the children's lives, if only for a short while


    Afterward, they led me outside into the night, holding me by the hand. They bombarded me with questions while running their fingers along the lines of my tattoos: “What's your name? Do you have children? What is Canada like?”

    I taught them to sing worship songs in English and they tried to teach me words in Swahili. I may forget my Swahili by Christmas, but I know I'll never forget the children of Matumaini.

    (Photos: Carson Samson)

    Comment

    On Thursday, November 14, 2013, Alexander said:

    Wow brings many happy memories back. Spent 2 weeks here a few years ago. I personally knew the lady who founded this school. This place is very close to my heart and have supported it many times.

    On Thursday, November 14, 2013, Maruianne TZAUT-HAUSDORFF said:

    I was very moved when I read your comments about your stay in Dar-s-Salaam. You see, we started our married life as Envoys at MGULANI Hostel in 1970, and we stayed 4 years there. Our daughter was born in 1971, and had, for friends and play mates the children of the Rehab (as it was known at the time). We also received more from these children than what we could give them, but we did love them with our whole heart.. At that time, thwy were children who suffered from the polio. I had the joy to spend 5 weeks there again a few years ago on a holiday - my health did not allow me to work for them, but we spent a lot of time just talking together and singing-refreshing my Kiswahili. What a blessed time. THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID FOR THEM. MAY GOD BLESS YOU. Marianne Tzaut (Major)

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