I have known about Bethany for over 10 years but despite being asked many times I always had good reasons not to go. I would mention lack of finance, the alien climate, being a burden on others if I became unwell, the tiring journey there and back and the fact that I have few, if any, skills to offer.
All of these excuses were perfectly reasonable and appropriate to keep Bethany at arms length. I was very happy for someone else to go but it was not for me although I would feel comfortable in talking about its progress and achievements.
Then one day it all changed and I felt a strong call to go and leave (albeit for a short time) what many would say is a comfortable existence and step out in faith. To see Bethany first hand is an unforgettable experience.
The journey although long did not pose a problem and all my other seemingly quite genuine objections proved to be more in my head than in my heart.
The team comprised Graham Pountain (leader of the UK team) whose experience of the journey, culture and local practice was invaluable (as well as his electrical expertise) and Ian, Gary and Bobby (all joiners) went along for the ride to finish off the substantial joinery work on the new girls dormitory. I helped to look at the local management practices and financial control as well as brew tea!!
Graham and I together with the Tanzanian team visited the “Lion of Judah” primary school to consider the feasibility of starting a similar school at Bethany with their initial support. The meeting was very productive and subject to their management board approval would be willing to give us all the assistance required.
Bethany is indeed a special place and a gateway to a better future for the children and young people who we hope will be prime movers in providing for their community what they have received from Bethany within the Tanzanian culture. All human beings have a right to clean water, basic health care and education. This is coupled with integrity and honesty both in financial dealing and respect for each other (e.g. the treatment of women and children)
Bethany exists to look after the most underprivileged, deprived and vulnerable members of society especially orphaned children. This work is carried out with love, commitment and compassion, which I experienced every day I was there. .
It is not perfect, the conditions could be better (the next stage may be to refurbish the old boys/girls dormitory as the new girls dormitory is opened as well as build a school) and therefore continuing finance is necessary to achieve such improvements. 100% of the money received goes direct to Bethany and having looked carefully at the local financial controls wasteful practices are monitored and eradicated to ensure that the private donations are used in the most effective way.
The faces of the children and young people tell it all and the gratitude of the Tanzanian team working in partnership with the UK team is palpable.
I am pleased to have finally made the decision to go and who knows one day I may be asked to go back!!
David Borland OBE