The Story of Serafuly

April 15, 2015

By Kathy Hamilton, Outreach, Inc.

Editor’s note: Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton co-direct Outreach, Inc. Among other activities, the organization conducts food security, education, and other development work in Tanzania.  Learn more about their work at www.outreachprogram.org.

While in Tanzania in 2003, Floyd repaired a windmill at Nkungi Village, which had not been working for at least 15 years, perhaps even longer.  The villagers did not have the money or expertise to make the repairs, but two days and twenty two dollars later the windmill was pumping water.  A village meeting was then held to determine if water should be brought to the village.  Would the villagers vote to dig a trench for the water line we would provide, or would they vote to have the women carry water from the well?  After meeting inside the ‘go-down’ (town hall) for half a day, we moved outside under the big Jacaranda tree.  Many more people were present at this meeting—the women on one side and the men on the other.  After several hours of Swahili discussion, the villagers gave a big harrumph.  We said to our interpreter “what did that mean?”  He said the people just agreed to dig the trench.  The distance each household had to dig was also decided.  Floyd got the water pipe and the equipment needed to make a straight line from the windmill up the hill through the fields to the hospital where it would be piped into an old water tower.  After everything was measured, the villagers began digging.  The Village leader was there recording each family’s participation in the growing trench.  Water was finally in the village!  The villagers were so grateful and thankful.

Floyd Hammer with Serafuly. Courtesy: Outreach, Inc.

Floyd Hammer with Serafuly. Courtesy: Outreach, Inc.

When Floyd and I were finishing our two month stay and packing to return home, many people came to thank us.  Late one afternoon Floyd was finishing his last job and I was putting things in boxes, when I heard a “hody” at our front door. I went to see who was calling, and there stood a tall young Barabaig warrior dressed in the traditional wrap garb with a knife hanging at his side. He held out his hand which held a small brass bracelet.  He said “geefta bwana nyundo.”  I was trying to translate in my mind just what he was telling me when he repeated it again.  I knew that “I” is pronounced as “e” and each letter is sounded out so it was gift – he had a gift for ‘friend Hammer.’  I looked at the small bracelet and said “’bwana Nyundo is kubwa’ (friend Hammer is big), and this bracelet is too little. It will fit me, but let me take you to bwana Nyundo.”  I took him by the hand and we went to where Floyd was working on a leaking line.  I told Floyd that this young man had a gift for him.  Floyd was so gracious, kind, and thankful.  He asked his name – Serafuly – and told him the bracelet was beautiful; it was hand forged and hand tooled, and was a true piece of art.  Floyd asked him if he could make 50 more.  Serafuly was gentle and humble, and asked if Floyd could loan him the money to get the materials and he would make them.  Serafuly was good to his word and we ordered more.

By this time we were starting the Gunda School project. I told Serafuly to be sure to save some of the money so he could go to school – and he did.  Each time we returned to Nkungi, Serifuly was going to school and learning English.  When we took medical missions to Singida, Serifuly would bring bracelets and tribal items to sell to the team.  His English kept improving; he graduated from Gunda, married and began a family, then went to Babati to computer school.  When we were in Singida on the March 2015 medical mission Serifuly called me to see how we were and to let me know he was in Shinyanga and would not be able to come see us this trip.  I let him know we would have another mission in October and I would look forward to seeing him then.