Volunteers Joelle, (in the photo) and Jenna escorted me this morning on my most recent home visits to check on some of the children of Mana OVC. Two families were doing quite well and although a third family is struggling on a widowed mother’s income as a day worker earning approximately seventy cents daily (we will make a micro loan to help with a firewood business) and has four of her seven children still living with her, 48 year old Mariam Juma has taught her daughters about the importance of hard work in school. 18 year old Fatuma is in Form IV and is ranked 15th of 180 students . . . (pole – sorry – Mary and Katy just returned from a visit to Mary’s Bibi, halfway up Mount Meru and stopped in to greet me. . . they are tired . . . and hot) . . . 16 year old Rahmajuma is 10th of 200 students in her Form III . . . 14 year old Asha, in Form I is ranked 7 of 200 students and baby Lucy, 12 years old is 20th of 110 students. These numbers mean something here, in a country where “learning” is most often a self-taught skill acquired through determination and discipline.
There are many, MANY problems inside the school systems here and only those children possessing an ability to reason, process and think for themselves will succeed and we must help those that can . . . Rahma is a member of Mana OVC already and we have helped her with school fees, books, supplies, etc., but we reached out a little farther and assisted Asha with her school fees also, ensuring her a chance at a successful year. The news recently announced that 85% of Form IV students failed their national examinations and so, without access to private educational options, their academic careers have ended. Raymond’s brother Robinson failed and so did Neema and Peter’s son Dula, for the second time, and so, we are forced to make some tough decisions and move on to help other children whose chances at success are greater. It’s a very tough process because, we know and care about, very much, many of these children, and we all understand the significance of acquiring an education, but the need here is so very great and many, many children simply don’t have what it takes – intelligence, discipline, determination and/or the commitment to pass and so we are forced to find the children who do and to give them the very best opportunities our resources will permit.
And, speaking of opportunities let’s get back to the photo. As I said, Joelle and Jenna joined me yesterday and met the Chikira family . Glory, 18, Ayubu 13, Wema 10, and Carol 5. Mother died in 2005 (AIDS) and their father followed in 2008. They live together with only each other. There is an older brother but he is a drinker and so has been “relocated” to rented premises but the situation for these children, although heartwrenching (I was reduced to tears and although I didn’t look around, could hear someone(s) else sniffling also), there is truly very much promise for them! Before their parents got sick, the family must have had some money because Glory still owns a 2 hectare farm and a house in dilapidated repair. There are fruit trees surrounding their home and Usa River runs right through the land making it a prime location for farming. Glory maintains a beautiful vegetable garden, but, there simply is no money . . . to repair the sheet metal on the roof that is leaking; to tear down and rebuild the loo; to repair what was the cooking kitchen.
Currently, all four children sleep in one, single bed, (or should I say bed frame) the slats that would hold the mattress up, if they had one, are gone, probably used for firewood. They have no net and share one small room. An encroaching and non-paying family member has been taking advantage of the family by occupying the second room in the house but Glory, with her soft spoken nature, has not the authority, nor confidence, to ask her to leave . . . WE are going to, and then give the second room back to the children. Please, PLEASE help us help this family.
As I said the roof is leaking. We must repair the mud walls of the house now, as I have witnessed where, once the long rains begin (March/April) the deterioration of that securing mud can be so much as to allow entire walls to collapse. We must rebuild the toilet AND give them a safe place to cook, outside of their existing two rooms. We need to clear and plough and plant their land and they need cooking utensils and an axe (imagine trying to cut logs into firewood with a panga, or machete) and they need clothes.
They will come Monday and we will plan and purchase and sort through our stash of of nguo (clothing) because they have almost nothing. Lyimo (Mama Grace’s sidekick in Mana OVC) has promised to speak to the Chairman of the neighbourhood in order to have some encroaching cows removed who are currently gorging on Glory’s cornstalks. We simply MUST help this family and here’s the good news! Glory is finished school or perhaps has had to drop out for lack of funding or her need to care for the little ones, I will follow up . . . Ayubu is 20th in his class of 180 and Wema is 12th with almost 200 in hers.
Little Carol has begun preschool and although our policy is to allow only one child per family into Mana OVC, with the Chikiras lacking adult support of ANY kind, we have invited all three youngsters to join our Mana family. Further, after preparing an income projection for the shamba (farm) we discovered that it can profit almost 1.4 million TZS. or nearly $1,000.00 Cdn. in its first harvest and we intend to have two plantings this year. Your loan will be repaid before the end of the year, and that help will save a family home, a deteriorating farm, and the lives of four youngsters and set them up very comfortably for a future their parents can no longer help them with. Please, do, step in. Joelle’s school (she is teaching in Korea) has so very generously donated $120.00 but we need about $1,500.00 in order to complete all that we need to do, and with Glory’s permission, we will harvest the maize and sell it on her behalf, provide her and the children a modest allowance and then repay your loan and replant. In the meantime we will educate Glory on the management of money and of her shamba. I ask you please, if you are in a position, to help us help these children . . .
On a smaller, but no less significant scale, a young 25 year old mother, Dorotea, HIV+ and abandoned first by her son’s father after impregnating and infecting her and then by her own mother who, in ignorance was informed that she too could acquire HIV just by sitting in the same room as her daughter. Dorotea had the baby, now 8 year old William, but began to get sick and finally, after testing, discovered her status. She has struggled with her third round of TB and she and her son have virtually nothing. As a day worker she earns about seventy cents and we need to help her. If we can keep her strong and healthy, she will be in a position to continue to raise her son and so it is my wish to purchase her a male and female goat (goat’s milk is incredibly beneficial to HIV+ people) and a rooster and some kuku (chickens) for protein rich eggs. The goats cost TZS. 140,000 and the kuku will cost TZS. 42,000 for a total of approximately $127.00.
I will help her start a small business after she is taught how to prepare a business plan and is trained in money management. Please do consider helping Dorotea and William. And at Tumaini House we are well! Most of the house has been repainted, we’ve replaced the flowers around the house that the rabbits ate (they have been “donated” to some of the Mana OVC children), Liadi and Tony collided on bicycles and Liadi’s eye came out the loser with his first “shiner”. Mwajuma, Evalin, Margaret, Angela, Eliza, Lazaro and Ema are home for the weekend and last night Baba Steve bbq’d “bahgas” (burgers) for the family. For those of you lucky enough to have enjoyed his prowess on the grill, you will be pleased to know that not an “nth” of his skill has been lost here, and so, upon your arrival at Tumaini you too, may enjoy his culinary gifts . . . mmmmm tam! (Delicious!)
Baba is building us an oven also and photos will follow but suffice it to say that our dining adventures at Tumaini, already delicious, will only improve with this gift . . . Cindy and Kal and our volunteers have returned from a wonderful safari and you can see some spectacular photos at http://silverparrotstudio.blogspot.com/.
Enormous thanks are necessary for the loving support you continue to provide us here at Tumaini House.
Many, many of you are expressing an interest in visiting us and we say Karibu! Come and meet the child (ren) you have chosen to support! I marvel, time and again, when I watch Francis, who got 100% on his monthly tests at school, or Pendo, who, saucily, came up to me yesterday and said, “Mama! You look very nice!” or Ester who talks a mile a minute now, after not having said a word for seven years! Christina is kind and giving and she began as a “hitter”, and she makes jokes now about her love of nyama (meat)! Christina can process the concept of a joke! I remember where our little family began, where they came from and I get to witness their progress and foresee their futures as they discover that they will, in fact HAVE a future! I cannot express in words how wonderful that marvel is and you, all of YOU have made that possible!
Asante . . . sana for loving and caring for us here and Karibu!! Welcome! Come, meet us and see just how extraordinary our little family is!!! Cindy said that she saw more on her safari in two days this trip than she saw in three weeks on her last . . . I cannot wait to join Dr. Pat, Steve and Katy on safari and see for our ourselves, just how spectacular African wildlife is!!!! Come, combine a safari and a visit to Tumaini and see for yourselves! On a personal note I am sending a hug to my girlfriends . . . missing you all and looking so very forward to some time together when I return! Be well and please know, always, how very grateful I am for the love you send us every day!!!!