Al Holland of Marshall showed his 10-year-old granddaughter, Jessica Holland, photos of Tanzania so she wouldn't be shocked at the poverty when she got there.
The Hollands just got back after spending 12 days in July in Tanzania.
They spent two days traveling there and back. They flew from Minneapolis to Chicago, then to London, England, then to Africa aboard Kenya Airlines. In Nairobi, their luggage was lost for three days. The weather was temperate, about 70 degrees to 75 degrees.
For Holland and his granddaughter, Jessica, this was the second trip they have gone on together as he visits the children he sponsors through Compassion International.
"It was winter," Jessica said.
They slept under mosquito nets at night.
"I didn't get bitten once," Jessica said. "When I got back, I got bit up."
In Tanzania, the Hollands saw fish vendors cooking fish on grills by the road two feet away from open sewers and houses made of sticks and mud.
Jessica, the daughter of Michelle Holland of Minneota, is an old hand at world travel. She went to Ecuador a few years ago on one of her grandfather's travels to visit the children he sponsors through Compassion International, a Christian child sponsorship ministry.
"Tanzania was worse than Ecuador (as far as living conditions)," Jessica said.
Holland sponsors 22 children - from ages 5 to 19 - around the world. He does it to help provide the children and their families with a better life and hope for tomorrow, he said.
"(Sponsorship and visits) really supports them and gives them a sense that we care," Holland said. "It encourages them and gives them something to hope for, gives them a future - which is something they don't have."
Holland said families don't name their babies until they are 2 years old. The children die from "simple things," he said, "diarrhea and measles."
The Hollands and other sponsors in their group spent one day in a park with their sponsored kids to "get to know each other," he said. "They called me 'Babu,' which means grandfather."
Holland said the kids and families were "really emotional - a lot of crying, especially when saying good-bye."
One set of parents that they met had been married for eight years. When the Hollands asked them what they should pray for on their behalf, they said, "ask for our marriage to stay strong."
Holland said marriages don't last long in Tanzania.
"The dads walk away and leave the mother with the kids," he said.
The couple had three children and lived in an 8-by-8 foot apartment.
The first day in Tanzania, Holland helped a group of men put a roof on a school.
"They hadn't had a roof for three years," he said. "They taught the children outside."
Jessica said that in Tanzania, "there was a lot of loose dust blowing in our faces."
"There's no grass," Holland said. "Just desert."
The Hollands went on safari in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where they saw giraffes casually crossing the road "like deer do here," Holland said. They also saw lions.
Masai tribespeople are a protected, nomadic tribe live in the Ngorongoro Crater.
"The translator said that the more jewelry the Masai wear, the higher their position (in society)," Jessica said.
She noted that the Masai's "ears are stretched."
In Tanzania, they stayed at a hostel, which is "a backpackers' place," Holland said. Jessica didn't like the food that well - too much goat meat.
"They made me Ramen noodles but then they put curry in it and I didn't like that," she said.
Jessica played with the children of other Compassion International sponsors who were part of the group, Greg from Virginia and Emma from Michigan, who were both 12 and came with their grandparents. The three spent a lot of time in the hostel garden where maize, tomatoes and avocados grew. Chickens, calves and pigs also were raised on site.
Holland and Jessica visited the CSP, which stands for Child Survival Program. Children from birth to 3 years of age are supported, as are pregnant mothers.
A nurse comes to visit once a week and tests the children for development.
"The mothers carry the babies in cloth slings on their backs and swing them around and feed them," Jessica said.
Holland is thinking about going to Peru yet this summer. Jessica would like to go, but she has school.
For more information on Compassion International, visit www.compassion.com