As COVID-19 continues to rage in most of the world, Tanzania seems strangely immune (pun intended) to the pandemic. It is true that testing is minimal. Yet it is also true that we are currently seeing and hearing no signs of serious illness or death due to the disease. One must really wonder what is going on. The reasons for this are outside the purview of this blog, so I’ll leave you hanging on this one.
At Dashir, we have yet to see any effect of the virus in our staff and community. Ironically, during the flu season of April to June, literally no one was sick here! It has probably helped that we took precautions with distancing and handwashing since middle of March. This hygiene initiative health benefit is one of the silver linings of COVID-19 for Tanzania.
Back in June, I said to the staff, “This is a marathon. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Be patient. COVID-19 is caused by a virus that will have its way until proper medication can be found.” I sincerely hope we are now well into the second half of that marathon. Time will tell.
Also in June, as a result of the warm hearts and abundant generosity of Dashir friends and alumni, we have raised enough money to keep our 30 staff working part-time throughout 2020. What a miracle! The workers are oh so grateful, expressing their thanks every week in various ways.
Almost all tourism employees in Tanzania are currently out of work, now trying to find a way to eke out some income to support their families. Safari drivers are driving motorcycle taxis for a couple dollars a day. Lodge workers are trying to buy and sell commodities of various kinds in Arusha. Business owners are hunkered down in their homes reading the news each day and hoping mightily for international tourism to return to a new normal. This business owner, yours truly, is incredibly glad to be with our staff family each day. I am also very happy to be busy (I can’t sit still!) putting the pieces together for the phase one build of Dashir Health Centre in Jan 2021. Check out the video below, and learn more at our new website DashirCares.org.
At our staff circle every morning, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Tanzania, as well as the rest of the world. We hope those who are sick will find healing and those who do medical research will find success in defeating COVID-19. We ache with those who have suffered and died. We long for the return of safe international travel, and we can’t wait to experience the buzz of guests at the lodge once again. Times are very tough indeed, but hope runs deep in the Tanzanian spirit of its people. We often sing a gospel song, “Paul and Silas prayed, and the gates of the prison opened up.” In due time, Dashir’s gates will open again to our guests from far and wide.