We, together with all the people of Arusha have been waiting for the rain. Every day we have been looking to the heavens watching the clouds gather, only to be disappointed to see them disperse again with not a drop to show for it.
Coming from a dry country like Australia, rain has always been important to us. Back there it seems that it is always either a drought or a flood. But here the rain, or lack of it, takes on a more personal nature. In Australia dry seasons are bad, the farmers suffer, the dams are low, but we always muddle through.
Here in Tanzania the lack of rain takes on a far more dramatic nature. As we go for a walk around our area we walk past small fields and we watch people planting after the last rain shower. We saw their hard labour, we saw how all the family were brought into this endeavour. We watched the fathers dig the heavy soil, the mothers weed and the children plan the seeds - one digging the holes, another dropping the seeds in and another filling the holes with their toes.
Having seen all this and then walking past weeks later and seeing the corn dying from lack of rain is heart rendering. All that work done, only for that poor family to go hungry.
The lack of rain means there is a lack of electricity. For ten or more years nothing has been done to improve the power infrastructure, as a result there are frequent power outages. A large proportion of electricity here is produced by hydropower. When there is no rain, there is no electricity. While it is an inconvenience to us at home to have no power for hours on end, the shop holders are nearly paralysed without it. To keep working and to keep freezers running, they need to buy generators and run them with horrendous fuel bills.
And the dust! Oh, the dust - it gets everywhere. You walk down the street (most are un-paved) and you get covered with the stuff. The house gets a coating of dust everyday, so everyday it is a top to bottom "spring clean".
But ... oh the rain, the lovely rain! The promise of saved crops, the promise of un-intereupted power, the end of the dust.
I love the rain!