For the last month I’ve been complaining about being homesick but in the last week, as the countdown finally began for my return to London, I was no longer entirely sure that I wanted to go home.
I had never expected to feel this way – in the last month I’ve been craving western food (and cheese in particular, if you’ve been following my rants on Facebook), I’m tired of itching and dowsing myself in protective lotion to shelter me from the plague of mosquitoes that descend every night and I desperately want some relief from the endless hot climate that leaves you sweating moments after leaving the shower. But, even those cravings melted away as the reality of going back home dawned upon me.
Moshi Town has become my new home. I have a family here. I have friends. I find myself feeling uncannily paternal about the young people at Kijana Kwanza. They are not just orphaned and poor students – they are MY orphaned and poor students. And I leave them behind anxious about their wellbeing in my absence. They are my responsibility. I must ensure they are clothed and fed. I must ensure they succeed in life.
Which is also why I must return to London. With the month of Ramadan in full swing, I must return home to meet my Muslim donors and request an injection of funds, if we are to keep our days open.
I asked the students what they would like me to bring them back from the UK. “Whatever you can bring,” said Christian, the most charming of the lot.
“I want go London you (sic),” said Saidi impromptly. It was an innocent request and I had no idea how to respond.
Back home In London, everything is both familiar and foreign at the same time. It is easier to be a foreigner abroad than it is at home. I hope that the next few weeks will be successful, and I can return to Tanzania with the funds I need to take Kijana Kwanza to the next level.
There is so much to do.
Mohammed S Mamdani