A helping hand in his homeland

Seif Sakate and Catherine Ryan are heading back to Mr Sakate s homeland Tanzania, with their son Kolo, 19 months, to film a documentary about the lives of local schoolchildren. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE
Seif Sakate and Catherine Ryan are heading back to Mr Sakate s homeland Tanzania, with their son Kolo, 19 months, to film a documentary about the lives of local schoolchildren. Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

PORT Fairy's Seif Sakate hails from a place far different to what we could ever imagine.

It's a place where his father landed a job as an accountant because he exhibited exquisite soccer skills.

A place where elephants tip-toe through pastures like mice and escape out the other side having satisfied their appetite for pumpkin an entire acre (0.4 hectares) of it, to be precise.

It's also a place he said nurtured him as a young lad through what was as it sounds a rather mischievous childhood.

"I would wake up every day at six, have breakfast and then I just took off," he said.

"It was one of the best experiences I've had in my life so far.

"I really wish I could just turn back the hands of time to my childhood."

It's a place he loves dearly, but although he can't quite turn back time, he is doing the next best thing.

Mr Sakate will leave today with his partner Catherine Ryan and young son Kolo to return to the scene of his childhood shenanigans, yet this time there will be more ambition and education on his agenda.

The 28-year-old from Tanzania is a qualified teacher , but the comprehensive classes he took back in his homeland count for little in Australia.

He'll need to undertake a one-year bridging course to be able to teach Down Under.

In the meantime, Mr Sakate volunteers at Port Fairy's Consolidated School and works at the local IGA.

On his arrival in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania, Mr Sakate hopes to get straight to work filming the lives of youngsters who he knows are doing it tough.

"There are so many kids in my village that need help," he said.

"I wouldn't say they need big help, but they need something; they need someone to help them.

"My main purpose is just to help them with the basic needs that I think any kid in the world would love to have."

In the lead-up to his departure, Mr Sakate put a lot of work into his venture, buying cameras, tripods and microphones to help him film a documentary he can eventually show the children in and around Port Fairy.

"I'm going to film a lot of stuff, but I can tell you what I'm trying so much to avoid, and that's depressing stuff," he said.

I don't want the kids here (Australia) to take a look at this documentary and find the whole way through it's just depressing .

"I just want to show them that no matter the difficulties these kids are living in, they're having some fun.

"So I'll try mostly to get the kids doing normal things probably not the things that the kids in Australia will be doing but just to show the kids what kids their age would be doing back home in Africa."

Mr Sakate even stuck his hand in his own pocket before going away, buying many pairs of shoes, culminating in a 40-kilogram bag of footwear for the children. Generosity from locals has also added clothing to the hefty donation.

The extra charge for exceeding the baggage limit for his flight shouldn't bother him. Nothing much seems to faze this young man. He just wants to do good.

"I actually went to Rivers and some things were 40 or 50 per cent off, so I thought 'this is it'," he said.

"So I bought almost 30 or 35 pairs of shoes for the kids. Most of the shoes were $2 or $3. It's nothing here but it's so much over there."

And that's the cornerstone to Mr Sakate's view on helping others.

"It's not about how much you give, it's all about the willingness to give," he said. Certainly any assistance is welcome in a country plagued by problems at many basic levels, including poverty, health and education.

"There's so much danger. The first thing I would say is the kids over there are affected so much by poverty," Mr Sakate said.

"Not many people have the access to good education. Their parents wouldn't have good work so they can't make good money.

"The spread of HIV-AIDS is that bad where you find in 10 families, maybe four will lose their parents, so it's that bad.

"The other thing is the mortality rate is so low. It's 45. So you can imagine if that's the mortality rate, these parents will go in their early or late 40s.

"Most of the fathers will end up having more than two or three wives and end up with a big number of kids.

"(The families) end up with a big number of kids ... with no parents."

There are many children in Tanzania who are young when they lose their parents, so Mr Sakate hopes his visit can make a difficult situation just that little bit easier.

And he is one of the lucky ones. His father is 60 and his mother is 52, and they're very excited about getting the chance during their son's visit to finally meet their grandson, Kolo.

"I consider the south-west part of Victoria as a country town," Mr Sakate said.

"Most of the kids down here, they don't get that opportunity to integrate with other kids or to get to see the other side, or to get to know what kids in other countries are doing.

"What I'm trying to bring to these kids is to open up their minds and show them what a kid of their age would be doing in Africa."

Mr Sakate will showcase his finished product at Port Fairy's Consolidated School, with increased interest meaning he could potentially visit other schools in Port Fairy, Koroit and the rest of the south-west.



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