Father Mike writes about his visit to Tanzania

It is good to be back home.  My trip to Africa is something I shall never forget.  The people there made a profound impression on me and gave me such a warm welcome. 
In practical terms and rather selfishly it is so good to be back to have the luxury of even a warm shower that is more than a dribble, to have electricity readily available and to have the comfort of my own bed.
I went blind, not really knowing in any sense what to expect.  Living conditions are basic though mine were better than most people enjoy there.  Family and community are such important factors in the lives of people there.  I was based for almost all the time in rural settings.  Indeed for three weeks I was based in a house situated in a clearing in the jungle.  There were several paths which led off from the clearing and the spot was a hub for local villagers to come for water, to have their maize ground and their very large car batteries charged: not that they had cars but it seems they use these heavy duty batteries as an alternative to electricity.  We were surrounded by fruit laden trees: bananas, mangoes, pawpaw, passion, avocado and pineapple.
In the course of my time there I met and worked with some amazingly talented people.  In May this year a group of seven young Tanzanians in their late teens will be coming to Edinburgh.  As I return their hospitality you will all have the opportunity to meet them and to marvel at their skills and talents.  They will be joining with a group of Scottish young people and presenting a joint performance in the Queens Hall in June.  The Scottish group will then return with them to Tanzania to work with them in school and parish settings.
My companion while I was there was Mike Knox formerly Principal teacher of religious Education at Holy Rood High School.  He has been going back and forward to Tanzania for over thirty years.  Since he took early retirement he has been spending half of each year here and the other half there.  He has set up thirty six schools in both countries which are in partnership with each other including St John Vianney’s Primary School, Holy Rood High School, St John’s Portobello. St Mary’s Leith, St Peter’s, St Cuthbert’s and St Mary’s London Street.  There are also six parishes in partnership including The Cathedral, St John’s Portobello and St Ninian’s. In the next couple of weeks I shall give to our Parish Councils the Document which outlines the aim and the whole concept of establishing partnerships.
I shall always be ever so grateful to Father Anthony for not only covering for me during the past six weeks but also for his encouragement to me to grasp the opportunity. Thanks also to Sr Mary, Sr Ninian and Maureen.

© St Catherine’s, St John Vianney’s and St Gregory’s are parishes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, charity registered in Scotland - SC008540