We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Kambi of Fishermen on Remote Ito Island

Ito Island is a very small and remote island north of Kome Island. Mainly fishermen live there. There is no electricity, no healthcare, there is no school on the island, no church, and very few women and children. 
The red arrow points to Ito Island. Our route is roughly marked in blue!
We went to Ito Island last week, while our cousin visitors had a few days in the Serengeti. We went with Simon and Reuben and Getrude to visit and encourage a pastor called Zakayo who has recently moved there to work with the fishermen. All the houses on the island are very temporary wooden shelters. Zakayo lives in one such shelter, managing a "kambi", a small camp of fishermen and boats in a small sandy bay, along with two women hired to cook for all the men. 
Pastor Zakayo in the brightly colour shirt in his small fishing bay
The fishermen who live there playing cards while 
the two women cook beans in the kitchen shelter behind the boat.
Resting a while at Zakayo's place
Zakayo took us for a walk around the island. It was quite fascinating to see such a completely different environment! The island is a reserved area and there are wonderfully lush jungle-like areas. The surrounding lake is absolutely beautiful. Yet evidence of the rough life of the fishermen is littered everywhere on the ground. There are no markets, but so many small shops who clearly profit only from alcohol. Indeed as one man we met said, the religion on this island is "pombe" (alcohol).

Drink bottles and more littered across the path
Life is clearly raw and tough on this beautiful island. It is very transitory with fishermen following the fish and girls following the fishermen. I chatted to the two women working in Zakayo's kambi. Both of them have children and neither have husbands. Mama Edward travels to visit her three children in Sengerema on the mainland every Monday, returning on Tuesday. The youngest is only five years old. She goes across on a fishing boat to Mchangani on Kome Island every three days to buy supplies of things like oil, rice, beans, sembe flour, tea and sugar. And every day between the two women, they cook two meals a day for the fishermen. I wonder how often they get together with other women. I wonder if and how the young girls with painted faces and non-traditional clothing integrate with them. And I also wonder about the school-age children I see and if they will ever go to school. 

We only stayed the morning as lunch was being prepared for us on Kome Island, so we were soon back on a little fishing boat for the 20 minute ride back (we went prepared with our own life jackets!).

Sitting on the huge pile of fishing nets with Pastor Charles from Kome Island
Louisa leads the way!
We docked at a place called Mchangani which is on the northern point of Kome Island. This is another very remote community, again part of a government reserve where no school-aged children are allowed to live and so there are no schools. Homes are all temporary structures made with wood. Simon was able to check out the latrine pits being dug here at Pastor Charles' church. And we were all able to enjoy a lovely lunch and I think you can guess what it was …. fish!

Wooden houses in Mchangani

Fish drying
It was also good to spend time on Kome Island. We were able to visit three churches that we are working with on the Health and Sanitation project. Getrude is living on the island three out four weeks, working with the women's health groups and Simon is going once a week, particularly to monitor the Clean Latrine project. Large pits are now dug at four churches; Simon has done a great job working with the individual churches to decide on appropriate technology for each and teaching sanitation training seminars with Getrude. Each church with its "demonstration toilet" will be able to reach out to the rest of the community offering help to improve hygiene and sanitation for improved health. It is exciting to see how things are progressing! 

A new church is being planted here in Nyamiswi by Pastor Medard
Pastor David's church in Nyamkolechewa
Here you can see the new building going up around the old one!
And behind the new building ….
The hole was dug rather larger than planned! 
This will be the pit for three toilets planned for the church plot
Simon gives out a sledge hammer head for smashing the rocks for the latrine pit
It was particularly lovely to see Pastor Margaret again! I had not seen her in such a long time! We had connected five years ago on our first visits to Kome and talked about EI partnering with her church. It has been a long time coming, but it is so wonderful to finally be working together! Her church shelter was sadly burned down a few months ago, but thanks to generous friends in London, work has started on a good church building! Foundations are laid! And as we looked at the foundations, it was exciting to know that these physical foundations were symbolic of so much more being laid and of what will be built up!

With Pastor Margaret wearing our exchanged gifts!
The foundations are laid

Brick-making in progress

Impromptu hopscotch, singing and English lessons at the church site attracted rather a crowd!

And here are a few other photos of some of our Lake Victoria travels to Kome and Ito Islands … Over three days we travelled on eight different ferries and boats!

Our journey from the mainland to Kome Island with some cows.
This was our taxi boat from Kome Island to Ito.
On the boat to Ito
It was a bit more of a job climbing into the fishing boat from Ito!
Louisa and Reuben were hoisted in by the fishermen!

This was a very crowded ferry from Kome Island back to the mainland. 
We were packed in next to a HUGE truck piled to the sky with harvested cotton!
We got a bit wet on this one!
Arriving on the mainland as the sun goes down … only one more ferry to go!
Final ferry and its time for bed!
As we were out on the Lake with nets in boats, watching the fishermen mend their nets, standing beside stone fires frying up fish, seeing Zakayo with his kambi of fishermen … it reminded us of Jesus. Going to live and work with fishermen, gathering a kambi of transitory people to be with him. And he taught them. He went with them to take love, healing and forgiveness to the people around them. And from that Lake at Galilee, his message of love, healing and forgiveness travelled the world from that time until today. And so now at this Lake, we pray for Pastor Zakayo as he lives and works with these fishermen. May this kambi also become fishers of men and take the life and message of love, healing and forgiveness to the people on these islands.