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We are back and in one piece after a very successful but exhausting trip to Tanzania. Clement Shehiza, Link Coordinator in Maramba planned a very intensive itinerary and emailed a copy before we set off. No way did we feel we would manage to visit all the schools, parishes, churches, permaculture gardens and visit the many friends listed on the programme but we achieved everything and more besides

We made life easier by spending a day in Dar es Salaam after our flight from the UK when we met up with William George (seen with Jenny) from Maramba whom we had sponsored and has qualified as a clinical officer working in a hospital in Dar.

Instead of being taken on the uncomfortable drive up to Maramba which can take up to 10 hours we flew up to Tanga from where it is only a short one hour drive to Maramba. This was not quite as straightforward as we had expected when we found ourselves landing on and taking off from the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba before reaching Tanga. A reception party comprising church leaders, teachers and the entire St. Aidan’s Church choir who sang a welcoming song met us on the tarmac at the small airport which was quite overwhelming. We learnt later that not even bishops receive such a welcome!

The most important event was the dedication led by Bishop Maimbo of the rebuilt St. Aidan’s Church in Maramba. Tenbury has contributed towards the cost of the rebuilding and it was important for the link to be represented at this event. The celebrations were to start with a long procession through Maramba leading to the church but heavy tropical rain prevented this happening. Instead we were herded under dilapidated tarpaulins adjacent to the church which allowed torrents of water to drop onto the waiting congregation! On entering the church we were privileged to be led to the front row from where we admired the finished interior which could only be described as pristine.

Next came an endless procession of Priests, Deans and Archdeacons from all corners of the Tanga diocese leading Bishop Maimbo to the altar. Everything was blessed right down to the switches that turned on the lights and fans. Bishop Maimbo delivered a long and interesting sermon which Clement interpreted for us. At this point it was clear that the service was going to take some time but it was a joy to listen to and watch eleven different choirs (see photo) from many parishes singing and

dancing with infectious rhythm. We were both called upon to address the enormous congregation which responded with clapping and cheering as we presented a ciborium from Tenbury to Father Francis, Dean of Maramba. Following straight on from the dedication many candidates were confirmed with the bishop and his entourage changing into bright red ‘regalia’. We were delighted to be able to witness this remarkable event and a glance at our watches at the end confirmed that the service had lasted for seven hours!!

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