It is Sunday and we are going to spend our free time with the community. Faith is very important to them, and we - Karimu volunteers - can feel a powerful and uplifting energy in the air.
The day begins with a 40-minute walk to a little Catholic church close to Dareda Kati, where over 500 people tighten to fit into the space. Arriving at the garden in front of the church, we first notice the colors and shapes of their clothes: yellow, red, purple, orange and pink dominate the environment. Women wear dresses or long skirts and scarves in the head, men have their best pants on and dozens of well-behaved children wear their most lined and clean clothes. The atmosphere is beautiful, vibrating and colorful. Wide smiles are all over the place.
All eyes turn to us when we arrive. We feel a mixture of growing curiosity and respect surrounding us. “What will those foreigners think of our ceremony?” is written in every single face. However, as soon as we start interacting with them, it becomes clear that, regardless the religious practice or belief of any of us, we are here to respectfully celebrate their tradition and, together, help to spread love and peace.
We enter the church and the first 4 rows of seats are kindly reserved to us. The Mass begins, and we realize the celebration of the love of Christ is universal. Although we don´t understand any Swahili - the official national language of Tanzania - we can comprehend the rite of the celebration, as it is exactly the way priests conduct it in Brazil, Europe or in the United States of America. We Brazilians feel pretty much at home here!
After the preaching of the word, the ceremony opens space for the offerings and then we learn a little more about sacrifice and empathy. In a moment of deep reflection and self-knowledge, each member of the community aligns to offer the little they have. And we have a beautiful lesson about love and respect for the next one. Whether it is a coin, an egg or a shirt-button, seeing that little basket with such small but grandiose offerings at the same time is a civility class.
And to crown such a beautiful and exciting ceremony, the people of Tanzania gifts us with a spectacular and wonderful choir. The whole community comes together singing their faith in unison. They sing songs about love, purification, Jesus and his great lessons. Whether you are Catholic or not, it has a huge impact in our soul. Their voices are so touching and beautiful that it is impossible not to feel involved by their love and energy.
Without any sophisticated instruments, the people of Dareda are led by a powerful and very sensitive conductor who extracts the most from his special choir. Little children sing on their own. Women of all ages come together and give the ceremony an angelic air. Men with serious and powerful voices excite and enchant us.
Even without knowing the meaning of the words they are singing, we pick ourselves drumming our fingers and humming a few words in Swahili. We are embraced and carried away by this beautiful and exciting ceremony.
The Mass ends with a procession that begins within the Church and leads us all to the beautiful flowery yard outside. In line, we leave in peace, singing and clapping hands together with the community, after having experienced once again more about the meaning of “love” and “empathy” in Tanzania.