the lovely international beggar

I was getting ready for my trip to Tanzania. I was going to a small town called Kibaha, 24 km away from Dar es Salam, the capital city of Tanzania. I was getting advise from a friend who had gone there before and after a long list of things he told me that if I needed anything there I could go to Uncle Bashir and this was the first time I heard his name.

Uncle Bashir was 50 something years old. He was born in an island called Pemba in Tanzania but then had moved to Canada and lived there. Then a humanitarian institute, WIPAHS, ask for his help and that is when he left Canada to come to Kibaha to help.

WIPAHS, is a dream that a man with a big heart believed in and made it come true. WIPAHS is an institute that digs wells around the country to provide people with their basic need, water. In the middle of Kibaha, where it used to be a jungle 25 years ago, they now have made a school, an orphanage and even a clinic and that is where I met Uncle Bashir.

I was with him for few days but I have so many unforgettable memories of him:

night tours

Every night, he would take his torch and go around the complex and check everything. When there were volunteers in kibaha, he would take them with him and show them around, all the trees they had, the bio gas site, and then he would take them deep in the jungle where there was no light and show them the stars.

orange for the children

Once I saw him looking happy and satisfied. He told me how he had been worried that the children there did not eat any fruit and that this was unhealthy and then said that he was happy because he had found a sponsor who had donated money to buy oranges for them.

rice for the blind

We were in the dining room. He came to me and said he was going out of town and asked me if I wanted to join him. We got in a van and went to a small village. I asked him what we were doing there and he said we are giving out food. After few minutes I saw a huge crowd of blind people with a bag of rice in their hand and a smile on their face.

lamp for the orphanage

once I was telling him about an orphanage I had been to and how they did not even have basic facilities. He told me that he knows and then he told me about one which didn’t even have a simple lamp.  When I came back from Tanzania I received an email from him. It was a picture of the orphanage with a lamp and under it he had written I found a donor.

international beggar

I asked him uncle what exactly do you do. He smiled and said ‘I am an international beggar’ and that was exactly what he did he would go to anyone he knew might help and ask them to help the poor and the orphans.That was when I learnt how big dreams come true, how in the middle of nowhere you can gather orphans, feed them, love them, educate them and more importantly make them smile. He was nice and begged others to be nice.


Dear Uncle Bashir,

You always told me I should try and learn Swahili. I tried. I swear I did. But I never learnt to say Rest in Peace. I never learnt to say I will miss you. But I am so happy I learnt to say: Nakupenda sana

Kwaheri Uncle Bashir


7 responses to “the lovely international beggar

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss…it’s amazing this man has obviously left this world for one so much greater and at the same time been the core reason of you writing this absolutely amazing piece which has everything in the write place and is filled with the emotions u felt when writing it. That’s what makes a great writer different from a good writer the ability to convey emotions and images through words. I am not afraid of criticising anything I think I can add anything to and this has no place for any criticism. I sincerley hope you are well and happy

  2. Uncle Bashir was a father, a brother, and a friend.
    I lived with him in Kibaha for almost 3 months, but that was enough to make a young man like me become a close friend to a young man like him; surely we had some years in difference, but he never made me feel them!
    He was more than in his 50s my dear soul tamagotchi; he was in his seventies; but it no longer matters… All that matters is that he was young at heart and always active- from dawn till dusk he was on the go. He never refused the one who wanted to accompany him; and I was often his shadow!
    We volunteers at WIPAHS had been the bees who were attracted to the beautiful flower that his was: always giving that which is sweet. Everyone who knew him will tell you that.
    Alas, with every fall the flowers die in a majestic atmosphere where trees cry leaves; and in the midst of this winter, the freezing Canadian sky is crying and it’s tears slowly paint a white painting in the memory of the one who’s place will remain empty…
    Nakupenda sana Baba Bashir

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