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June 19, 2010

Iringa

By Cynara Vetch

We had a beautiful trip today, driving along the bottom of a baobab valley. Above us the hills were smoky grey with deciduous trees and we wound through miles and miles of vast baobab trees.

The legend in Africa, which is also told in Australia and Madagascar where they are found, describes the baobab as a greedy tree at the beginning of creation. It demanded from the creator special flowers and leaves and took all the space away from the other plants and trees. Finally God grew exasperated and turned the baobab upside down, the twisted gnarly roots coming out from the top and that’s how you find it today.

Our venues keep getting better and better and Iringa has topped them all. We had the screening in the town’s football stadium, a red brick complex set against boulder strewn hills.

When we arrived IDYDC (Iringa Development of Youth Disabled and Children) activities were in full swing. They had acrobats from the Alpha Dancing Group. Tom Mortimer from Grass Roots Soccer explained how the artists had helped their Zinduka Kupita Soka project which means wake up through sport. “At the beginning we had a lot of resistance from the parents who couldn’t understand why their children should be doing football and after school activities, they wanted them back at home collecting firewood and other chores. Alpha did some interactive drama pieces, involving the parents and explaining how it would work”, now the project is inudated with children and the parents are much more supportive.  The dancing group wowed the crowd with crazy flips and hoop tricks and then rounded it up with a comedy routine involving juggling straw hats, which produced giggles from the children.

The whole day was held together by MC Steve Magombeka, a brilliant guy who works with IDYDC. Steve grew up in Dar Es Salaam and sadly lost both his parents, after that he fell off the rails and got into lots of trouble. He’s now sorted it all out and has moved to Iringa and works in a shop. He’s incredibly popular with the kids and volunteers in his spare time with the organisation. Check out his blog which, is all about media and music in the area www.kasampaidaproduction.blogspot.com

We gave Steve a Africa Wins t-shirt for helping us and he gave it to one of the nurses in the HIV counselling and testing tent. I went and spoke to the nurses and Tammy was able to photograph a man being tested. They’d had a successful day getting 50 people tested, Sarah told me that  “Iringa has problems with HIV because it’s a stop off for people travelling through to Zambia” Sarah is a retired midwife and started working with AMREF because she was interested in helping out pregnant women with HIV.

After the testing and the match we packed up in record time.  Just in time we headed to Scooters bar to watch the England game.

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