Joseph Aweda dreams of Technology Development Centre Tanzania
Joseph's Dream by Sister Noeleen Mooney
When Joseph Aweda arrived in Dar es Salaam he knew nobody. Hunting for student accommodation far from home is not made easier when you have an artifical leg. Luckily, his search led him to meet a kind family from Goa who helped him find a room in a safe area. Thus began a bond of friendship that lasts to this day.
The room needed a lot of repairs. No trouble to Joseph! Years earlier, when he had been chosen for sponsorship in his final two years of secondary school by the Institute of Management and Information Technology, he had to wait a while before his courses began. Now he was glad that he had spent that time teaching himself carpentry and building skills. Later, while on National Service, he developed these skills further.
Life had taught Joseph many things. Born in 1971 in the small village of Mara in Tanzania, relatives advised his mother to let him die because a child born with only one leg was looked upon with suspicion and fear. There had been talk of letting the cattle trample him to death. His mother, though very poor, would reply, "God has given him to us and knows why. We leave everything to God."
In those days, the MMM Sisters ran the nearby Dareda Hospital. We helped Joseph's parents to get him to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, where he was fitted with a rather rudimentary prosthesis. I well remember his prowess on the football field! Leaving aside his prothesis he would go speeding across the pitch with one leg and two crutches. He still talks enthusiastically of his first flight with Sister Aideen O'Sullivan, then physiotherapist at Dareda, in the Flying Doctors' plane to get his prosthesis replaced as he grew. When older, he discovered that if he managed to get there at exam times, he could be used as a model and be fitted for free!
In Dar es Salaam, Joseph successfully completed the one-year Diploma Course in computer studies and IT, which was being supported by a kind donor in Ireland. It was not easy for him to find a job with this qualification, so for the next two years he supplemented his income by again working as a carpenter and builder, as well as tutoring a group of twenty students in physics, chemistry and maths.
This fueled a desire in him for further studies. In 1999 he applied to the University of Dar es Salaam, and was accepted for a four-year programme that would qualify him as a mechanical engineer. He was able to get a student loan through the programme of the Tanzanian Government which paid for his tuition, meals and for accommodation.
At this stage, Joseph would have had no difficulty pursuing a lucrative career in the big city, but his sights were firmly set on returning to Dareda to establish a workshop. This would allow him to use his many skills to benefit the people of his local area.
He spoke passionately to me of some of his plans to use appropriate technology:
- making small stoves which would use only sawdust or small twigs as fuel for cooking (instead of logs or charcoal)
- constructing a hand-propelled maize grinding machine, which would save long journeys to the local grinding machines in the village, as well as ensuring that maize could be ground in small quantities, and without depending on an electricity or diesel supply that was often erratic
- making openwork bricks which would fit into each other, use less cement, and yet form a very solid structure which could be strengthened by putting steel rods through the openwork
He dreams of establishing the Dareda Technology Development Centre. The dream is already well on the way to becoming a reality. With the help of some funding from the Small Projects enterprise administered by MMM from general donations, the essential machinery required has now been bought and transported to Dareda.
The Workshop will be in the village, which lies at the base of a very steep hill. While he was still young, because of his parents' poverty, Joseph was adopted by a staff nurse at Dareda Hospital, Dympna Tsafu, who is an Associate member of MMM. While he lived with Dympna, he still kept in contact with his parents. As he got older, he helped to educate his four sisters and twin brothers and built a better home for his parents. Dympna's house, where Joseph lives, is perched high up under the shadow of the escarpment, so Joseph's latest idea was to buy a second-hand three-wheeled motorcycle to spare the wear and tear on his prosthesis. Need I say that he did all the necessary repairs to the motorcycle himself!