Godfrey and Sasha: 4 Years Later

John, Sasha and Godfrey

A happy walk home

Returning now to Kilema four years after our first arrival is to return to family and community.

So much wonderful news to catch up on: new parents and grandparents amongst our colleagues here; orphans blossoming into healthy adolescents and former AIDS patients continuing in good health. But of course, accompanying this joy, the ongoing losses of life here: lab technician Ida newly widowed; AIDS and TB patients still dying too often and just today a beloved HIV clinic staff member sent off by hospital staff for a post mortem examination, feared dead from an abusive husband.

But to the forefront tonight is an amazing friendship, a story still early in its evolution: the incredible connection of Sasha and Godfrey, a local boy. Our early days here saw Godfrey often arriving at sunrise, calling “Shasha” outside the boys’ window and an immediate , wordless kinship arose and continued through our year, Godfrey showing an amazing appetite for connection and learning and Sasha thrilled to adventure in the area with him.

Today, Godfrey’s proud father , John, arrives to take us to Godfrey’s boarding school: excelling and determined and a fortunate recipient of support for school fees, he has landed in an excellent school , where students achieve high marks on national exams and go on to prestigious universities.

As we walk the red soil road , at the edge of breath-taking ravines, John asks Sasha what he will be when he grows up. “Pediatrician”, Sasha replies. “I want to help children.” Amazing news to the father , never before the recipient of such an announcement.

Olaleni school is a tightly run ship; we sign in and, due to mandatory Sunday afternoon study hall for all students, will only have several minutes with Godfrey. We are treated to a surreal scene testifying to the vital importance of education in Tanzania and the determination to avoid corruption, as Form 4 exams (Grade 12) arrive in shrink – wrapped packages, accompanied by three machine gun toting guards!

Soon Godfrey rushes to us, radiant smiles are exchanged, fists bumped and an arm wrestle for old times sake is underway. Godfrey triumphs. “He’s a year and a half older than me!” Sasha smilingly protests.

I mirror John’s earlier question to Sasha, asking Godfrey what course he wishes to pursue at university. “Pediatrician.”

The swift answer makes me jump, then smile. From wordless kinship to converging career goals, this friendship appears to have legs. Stay tuned.

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