A Place for Children

Date posted: Wednesday 24 April 2019

"More... more?," the question/command came pleadingly from my daughter's mouth. Bunched hands drawing together urgently in toddler sign language reinforced the message.


"I get it, you really like the basket of bottlecaps don't you?" I replied. She looked at me, she looked at the collections of shiny bottlecaps with names like Stoney Tangawizi, Fanta Passion, Sparletta, and Mirinda, and then she looked at me again and her hands once more started to fly. "More," they said, "more..."


Bottle caps are fun -especially when shaking the basket- but there was more to be seen. Redirecting her attention, we stumbled past two older kids who were pounding corn with a wooden mortar and pestle in a play version of a Hehe kitchen. "We're making ugali," they said, as we made our way over to a flock of stuffed sheep and pretended to be wandering shepherds like the Maasai. Someday she'll hear the story of how I lost the sheep that was gifted to me in honor of my wedding. For now, however, it was good enough to learn that the fuzzy white shapes with four legs and eyes are sheep and that they go 'baaa' and that some of our friends spend most of their lives caring for them, and goats (maaa), and cows (mooo).


While we were giving sheep the side-eye of suspicion, other girls were learning about animals in Tanzania - playing with plastic twiga, simba, tembo and more. A little market was set up beyond them with fruit to sell and even some shilingi (small bills and some coins) to offer in exchange. Nearby, a low table was set up with coloring sheets and other craft projects.


Despite the threat of snow and cold outside, this corner of the church's gathering area was a hive of activity. While the choir sang in Swahili and the pastor preached about partnership, here was a special area that was set up for kids and their grown-ups too. It was a place of creative hospitality and a reminder that in our partnerships with Tanzania there's a place for the youngest, the oldest, and everyone in between.


All thanks be to God,


The Rev. Peter Harrits

Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop