Thursday, July 3rd
When I arrived in Dar last night it was dark so today was my first real look at the city. There are soooo many people! The streets are absolutely filled with people and the roads are packed from end to end with cars. During rush hours they have terrible problems with traffic, which I witnessed firsthand while I was standing up in a daladala.
The reason I came to Dar was to meet with a professor from the University of Dar es Salaam who had contacted me about some of her disabled students.
Can you imagine being born without the use of your legs, and forced to crawl on the ground to get around? Imagine being a college student and having to crawl across campus to your classes. If you’re lucky you might graduate, but now you have to crawl around the city to job interviews and it’s doubtful that anybody will take you seriously.
Dr. Tungaraza, the professor who contacted me, introduced me to one of her students named Michael who is living the life I just asked you to imagine above. He managed to crawl his way across the campus and graduate with a BA in Sociology, but is now finding it incredibly difficult to get a job. I was amazed by his determination and resilience, and it really fired me up to do something about his situation.
Dr. T listed off over 17 physically disabled students, many of whom are crawling to classes. The campus is huge and hilly and many of the classrooms are on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the various buildings. Most of the disabled students are unable to attend all of their classes because them simply can’t reach them.
I don’t know what I will be able to do for the physically disabled students of the University of Dar es Salaam, but I will do something. If anybody has any ideas of things we can do to raise funds, or if you know of any organization that might be able to help out, please let me know. I’m going to fix up the prototype wheelchairs that I’ve made in Arusha over the past two summers and hopefully send them down to these students, but that’s only a small dent in a larger issue.
Dr. T gave me a big tour of the campus so I could get a real sense of what it was like for her students. We climbed to the top of a steep hill where the large lecture halls are located and gazed out onto Dar while a nice breeze cooled us down. “Sometimes we forget to count our blessings. We don’t realize just how lucky we are,” she said. Let me tell you, I certainly counted my blessings today.