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Tanzania is a country of haves and have nots. With nearly 7 million people living in Dar es Salaam, you don’t have to look far to find the have nots.

We visited FASDO, Faru Arts and Sports Development Organization, in the Tandika Flats, one of the poorest areas in Dar with a 70-percent unemployment rate. The center, supported in part by a physician whom we know in Salem, attempts to give poor children skills through sports (soccer) and the arts (music, dance, theater, video production).

In advance of our trip, we collected donations of soccer cleats, socks, jerseys, jackets, shorts, and balls from Nathan’s soccer team and Aidan’s Cub Scout den to distribute to the kids. The church middle school group that I co-lead also donated money for children’s underwear. However, when we discovered that it would cost $2800 to ship the items to Tanzania, we had a problem. Fortunately, the generous folks at DHL stepped up and not only covered the shipping but the taxes as well. Thank you DHL!

The boys played a bit of soccer in FASDO’s dirt courtyard before passing out the gear to the younger children; the teens would come later in the day for theirs. The FASDO kids had pretty impressive juggling skills! What they didn’t have was actual soccer balls.  Now they do.

From Nathan: I know that soccer cleats can’t change a child’s life, but I hope we made a little difference.

From Aidan: The FASDO kids live in a very poor environment. The stuff we gave them helped a little bit, but it will take a lot more to get these kids off the street.

Travel TipTravel Tip 14: Fear not

When visiting an impoverished area, don’t be afraid of letting your kids see reality.