Christmas in Tanzania

Christmas in Tanzania

I will be spending Christmas in Australia this year. Thinking about my family and friends back in Arusha, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of my fondest memories of celebrating Christmas in Tanzania. 

While there is a lot that sets us apart, I can see many ways Christmas in Australia and Tanzania are similar. What we have in common is good food, presents for children and at the heart of everything, enjoying time with family.

My family was very poor when I grew up so the only time I received anything new was at Christmas time. For me, this was usually new clothes. My mum couldn’t always afford it so some years, I didn’t get anything. But that was ok for me – I still looked forward to this special day.

Everyone dressed up for Christmas day in our special clothes saved only for this time of the year. We would wash ourselves. I think back to my childhood and remember that washing was not commonplace in a village that didn’t have running water. I can’t put into words the excitement I had of feeling clean!

And where do I even begin with the food? Christmas lunch was always a big moment in Arusha. A feast of special food with lots of meat, pilau rice, salad and vegetables. Meat and fresh food was not everyday food for us.

When I think about Christmas, it is all about the children. In Tanzania, adults don’t really get excited about Christmas anymore. But it is important we keep the day special for the children. We make sure they eat well, feel clean, and have the chance to play.

Life was hard for my family when I was growing up and it continues to be today for many children. At Lengo Football Academy, I see many kids who don’t have much – to eat, to own and to experience. But these are not greedy kids. They are grateful for what they have and they continue to smile.

It is for these kids that I ask your help today.

I would like us to do something special for the boys and girls at Lengo. I want to make sure every one of our 150 kids receive a small present this Christmas. A tshirt or a pair of socks to encourage them to keep playing football and scoring goals in life.

Will you consider making a donation to Lengo this December? Your gift will go directly to purchasing something new for our children.

Lengo is now a registered charity in Australia which means any donation over $2 is tax deductible. Donating is easy and you can do it online now.

By Emanuel Saakai