Friday, April 23
Chogo Refugee Resettlement Camp, Tanzania
When we think of venturing abroad to exotic lands we often spend too much time worrying about the possible perils that might await us there: spiders, snakes, disease, war etc.
It is sensible to be cautious but sometimes we forget the very real threats in our every day lives such as driving to work in the morning or sending ourselves to an early grave by smoking too many cigarettes.
I was stood in the toilet at 7am on friday morning admiring the wonderful sunrise over the Chogo Resettlement Camp when suddenly I felt an acute pain in my inside leg. I would liken it to being given an injection by a nervous nurse. There quickly followed a second surge of pain and I knew something was amiss.
Out in the courtyard I quickly pulled off my trousers and asked Bjorn if he could see anything that might have caused my pain.
I watched Bjorn step back and his face screw up, "It's a scorpion mate"
"You're joking aren't you?"
"No, it really is. I am sorry. You've been bitten by a scorpion."
A million thoughts race around my head ranging from 'am I dreaming this?' to 'Is the scorpion of the deadly variety and might I die from this wound?'
I lie on the bed in a vertical position and a T-shirt is tied around my leg above my knee to limit the spread of the scorpion's venom.
Bjorn goes off in search of the local doctor but tells me there are 'no deadly scorpions in Tanzania'. His words settle me. Slightly. But as I lie there alone in the room I conclude that Bjorn probably doesn't know anything about scorpions and maybe, just maybe, I might die from this.
It is an absurd idea that this might be the cause of my demise but as I feel the venom spread across my leg I realise that it really might be a possibility.
Bjorn phones his Norwegian Army friend, Ingar, who starts searching his resources for the deadly-or-not status of the scorpion. He reckons I am safe. Jimmy, our guide in Chogo, arrives with pain killers and anti-allergy medicine. The scorpions in Chogo are not deadly, he assures me.
He's just told me I have won the lottery. I don't need to explain the relief.
The UNHCR and REDESO agree to provide us with a vehicle for the day to transport us to Dar es Salaam as clearly cycling is something I won't be doing for a couple of days.
The venom spreads until I can hardly feel a thing in most of my right leg. We drive to Dar es Salaam, I guess 300-400 kilometres away. Scorpion poison makes you feel very tired. I am in and out of sleep for most of the journey south-east.
In Dar es Salaam the people at REDESO can't do enough to help us. They help us find a place to sleep, start contacting the local press and football clubs and say some very kind words about what Bjorn and I are trying to achieve.
You shouldn't mix alcohol with medicine, but one cold beer by the roadside watching the citizens of Dar es Salaam go about their business is a perfect way to finish the day and to reflect upon how happy I feel to be alive.
Thursday, April 22
Chogo Refugee resettlement Camp, Tanzania
Due to a little bit too much beer (at least I hope that is his excuse) Bjorn was cuddling up closer to me in bed than I would have liked and clearly was thinking I might be his Marianne :) Consequently, I elected to spend the rest of the night trying to sleep on the floor.
We travel up to the Chogo Refugee Settlement, less than 100 kilometres from Tanga. The camp is run by REDESO (The Relief to Development Society).
The vision of REDESO is as follows:
"A community where vulnerable people have access to equal opportunities and empowerment".
There are around 2,800 resettled Somalis living at the Chogo Camp. The idea is that they become self sufficient and naturalized as Tanzanian citizens.
Both these ideas seem appropriate to me. Chogo is a beautiful place. It is hilly, full of lush vegitation and enjoys the occasional cooling breeze.
The camp's residents, young and old, are very friendly. We meet the camp's Elders. They want to be totally self-sufficient, but first they need a little more help from people like you and me. They need school books for the kids; they need electricity and running water.
Much has already been achieved at Chogo from when it was originally nothing more than one huge UNHCR tent. Now thousands live happily in their own houses, go to their mosque, cook on coal-heated stoves and, of course, play football.
But these people have shown that if they are given the tools to become self-sufficient, they can do just that.
It would be nice to think that somebody who reads this might help to put those books into the Chogo classrooms and the waterpumps into the orange Chogo soil.
For more details: