A Busman’s holiday is a phrase often used to describe a holiday in which you spend most of your time doing the same or something very similar to your normal work, instead of having a rest from it. This was certainly the experience of former Churchwarden Robert Amstutz, when he joined a group from Partner sein on a tour of Tanzania last year.
Partner sein was created in 1970 through a decision of the national Synod of the Old Catholic Church of Switzerland and supports projects with a view to help people to help themselves. Last year, Partner sein supported altogether 27 projects in 9 lands from Africa and Asia.
St Andrew’s will be supporting Partner sein in our Trinity Sunday charity collection this weekend, the details of which will be published tomorrow. In the meantime, Robert has taken the time to write an account of his trip, made with other committee members from Partner sein, to visit some of the projects of the supported partners in Tanzania.
A Postcard from a Busman’s holiday across Tanzania
Partner sein is the aid agency of our sister church, the Swiss Old Catholic Church. Among the projects they support is the work of the Anglican CMM Sisters in Tanzania (Chama cha Mariamu Mtakatifu – or in English the Community of St Mary of Nazareth and Calvary) in the areas of help for self-help, medicine and schooling.
A group from Partner sein, including Robert and Annika Amstutz, visited them in Tanzania late 2019. This involved well over 1500km of travel, a lot of which was in a bone shaker bus along poor quality roads.
There are 11 CMM houses in Tanzania, with the Mother-house at Masasi – near the Mozambique border. We visited 6 of the locations, the activities of 3 of them are listed below:
In Sayuni, a rural area in the central highlands about 1500 m above sea level, the CMM sisters run a local health centre which, apart from providing immediate first aid and a maternity ward, holds regular clinics for sufferers of AIDS and TB. They play an important part in looking after the local rural community. Although no doctor is present, a Swiss doctor is available for telephone diagnoses. Partner sein has provided funds to build and equip a medical laboratory, a dispensary, toilet facilities, all weather walkways between the buildings and a mortuary, as well as to fund nursing and midwifery training for a number of the CMM sisters.
Also in Sayuni the CMM sisters run a farm and a hostel for young women. The farm allows them to be self sufficient. Recently they started to produce honey. Excess produce is sold locally to raise money. The hostel provides a safe place for the young women to live. They are taught domestic and farming skills to prepare them for a life either within or outside of the sisterhood.
New in Sayuni is an orphanage, built by a UK parish in Warwickshire. Running costs will be paid by this parish, but staffing will be by the CMM sisters.
Up to the time of our visit, the only electric power in Sayuni was provided by a weak solar energy system. During our visit, the state electricity agency drew in power cables to the area. The CMM sisters would have to find USD 1’500 to be connected to the network – an impossible sum for them. Several SMS’s and e-mails later – and to the utter delight of the sisters – Partner sein members had managed to secure private sponsorship to cover this cost.
On their model farm, the CMM sisters, together with agricultural experts, teach and support some 400 peasant farming families in how to produce in a sustainable manner and how to market their produce. The CMM sisters breed fish and poultry, as well as produce good quality seed, all of which are provided to the farmers at favourable prices. Farming thus becomes more profitable and the populace is better and healthier fed.
Partner sein supports the creation of this project, particularly the construction and fitting out of the fish pools and poultry houses as well as the cost of training the local population.
As in Sayuni, they try to be self-sufficient and sell excess produce to raise money.
Since a number of years the CMM Sisters have run 3 Montessori Kindergartens where small children are prepared for school. Attending Kindergarten greatly increases the chance that the children will regularly attend higher schools and finish their studies. This newly constructed Kindergarten in the rapidly growing town of Masasi, now requires the final fitting out.
The girls hostel in Masasi, run by the CMM sisters, guarantees girls from the countryside safe accommodation in the town. It also enables them to gain knowledge in domestic and garden work as well as in nutrition and basic health care. Currently, 20 girls aged between 12 and 18 live and work at the hostel. We are financing the running costs as well as a computer, furniture and fittings, small farm animals and seeds and vegetable plants.
The CMM sisters in Newala run a Montessori Kindergarten as well as provide support to the local diocesan primary school.
One of the sisters is a fully trained nurse and works at the local hospital. Her salary helps too finance their work in Newala.
Partner sein was very impressed by the work of the CMM sisters. They live a very simple life with a very basic diet and are dedicated to devote as much of their resources as possible – especially in support of the women and children of Tanzania.
Partner sein will continue to support the CMM sisters for some years to come. – Please help us to help them!