It’s nearly 5am in the morning I’m in Moshi, Tanzania in the Dream Tone Hotel. There is not a chance to dream for any length of time. I’ve been wakened since 4.30am by an Imam broadcasting from his loud speaker system calling the faithful to prayer.
By 5.30am he seems to be joined by another three Imams with their loud speakers. Now we have three very loud voices praising God and reminding the world around to pray.
This has got me thinking perhaps Sanctuary First could work out a kind of early morning alarm system whereby members of the community could get an early morning prayer call urging us all to start praying. The benefit of the Sanctuary First technology would be at least the individual could control the volume.
Now that I’m fully wakened the lone singer continues and I find myself thanking God for the day that is ahead of me. The voice continues not quite drowning out the sound of motorbike engines. Moshi is beginning to come alive and the Imam’s loud speakers echo across the city the call to pray.
There is something about this part of the world. People seem less inhibited, community singing is part of their culture and prayer is part of their life, just like breathing. Yesterday I opened the 100th home Vine Trust has built for a widow and her granddaughter. Vine Trust has a partnership with Tanzania Women Aids Research Education Foundation (TWAREF). It’s made up of mainly women researchers using data effectively to bring about change in the lives of women.
We witnessed that change first hand. A grandmother being given a new status in the community, moving from a very inadequate home to a new build that will make it easier for Marie her granddaughter to study. Marie proudly shows her class report, she is top of the class. Her certificate shows she is No 1 out of a class of 44.
It makes me think, what might this child achieve? She is only 10 years old, she has lost both parents through AIDs, yet she goes to school each day because she knows education is the way out of poverty. Still she finds time to pray and thank God for the good fortune that has come her way. Both grandmother and child shed tears of joy, overwhelmed by what has happened to them.
As I reflect on yesterday I can’t help thinking about the importance that was attached to the opening of the house. All the neighbours turned up. They came to witness the ceremony. They were now the custodians of the memories that would be shared with others to say they witnessed the house being given to Marie and her grandmother. The local signatories signed the papers and the legalities over, now everyone celebrates singing and dancing bringing their gifts to show solidarity. and love. A chapter has opened for this little girl.
I notice that the Imams have stopped singing or chanting. It’s 6am in the morning. The sound of cars and buses fill the air, replacing the spiritual with the pollution of modern day living. Another day will soon be underway as I head to go under a cold shower. I guess that’s my wake up call.
Very Rev Albert Bogle, Minister of Sanctuary First