Its 4:10am in Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam and a group of 10 young men and women are huddled up together outside the True Vision offices in the cool November temperatures. A prayer for a safe journey is offered as the rumblings of car engines intertwine with the silence of the early morning. Seatbelts are fastened and a 7 hours’ journey to the country’s capital begins in earnest.
As the two-car convoy briskly makes its way through the somewhat empty streets of Dar es Salaam, the young men and women can’t help but ponder the task ahead. The siren-less convoy edges closer to the capital with every passing minute breezing through the countryside as Dar es Salaam slowly gives way to the Coast region.
The weight of the expectations of the nation
By this time many of the team members on board are in slumberland, trying to get some rest before their assignment commences. As they burden the vehicle’s head-rests with the weight of their drowsy heads these men and women are well aware that they also carry the weight of the expectations of the nation – A nation that may not know that they exist or what role they play.
These young men and women are expected to achieve what most countries have been tirelessly trying to achieve.
In two days’ time, (6th November 2018) this group of men and women will be telling the country and the rest of the world the story of the launch of an important national campaign “to end maternal and newborn deaths in the country”, a feat that has to date eluded many a nation. Essentially, these men and women will tell an all too common story that features an uncommon hero.
As she tries to achieve what is believed to be nothing short of a miracle this hero is without the customary cape and leotard and is often without the applause of adoring fans. This heroine, the Tanzanian woman, mother of the latest additions to a nation of 55 million people is forced at times to bring this wonderful story of birth to a tragic end for reasons that could have been avoided.
Re-writing the story and making sure that it ends well is the task at hand for these young men and women. This story is to be written vicariously through government leaders, nurses and midwives, communities as well as families who carry with them different pieces of the narrative. Each has a role to play in making this the sweet story it needs to be.
It’s around 10am and the team makes a stop for a toilet break in the outskirts of Dodoma region. As they scan the vicinity they are drawn by the sights and sounds of a country rich in beautiful flora and fauna. The team gazes on and can’t help but fall in love with this wonderful place they call home.
In the midst of this breathtaking scenery some conversations ensue with each team member saying why they love their country. In the individual explanations the depth of patriotism is apparent and astounding. It suddenly dawns on them that they hold in their hands the power to effect change. It also becomes apparent that what drives their seemingly endless travels across country on one assignment or another is love of country.
The journey resumes and at around 11am the convoy enters the capital city. Tired but excited, the team immediately begins doing ground work for their assignment. The long awaited launch is now at hand.
The story of women and children in Tanzania begins.
On the morning of the launch, the team once again huddles together to strategize one last time in the cold November temperatures of Dodoma. A prayer for a successful day is offered as the rumblings of car engines intertwine with the silence of the early morning. Seatbelts are fastened and a 10 minute trip to the event begins in earnest. Armed with laptops, cameras and tripod stands the faces of these young men and women seem to gleam with anticipation to tell the story of women and children in Tanzania. For the team this is not just another assignment, it is a Tanzanian story. Their story. They believe that it is one that has to end with “happily ever after”.