March 9th from Mama…

First of all, Thank you’s go out to new supporters Donna H. who is helping with care for Stephano and Karen M. for providing sponsorship for Daniel.  Asante to Noah Defreyne for donating his birthday gift to Tumaini and Aunt Jennifer for making it happen.  Thank you also to Joanna W and especially to our ongoing sponsors without whose loving support Tumaini could not sustain itself. . . Asante sana and, happy birthday to our returning volunteer Alison!

Daniel has an ugly viral rash and I’m dousing him regularly with calamine lotion to help keep the itch contained.  Several of us are still struggling with a nasty cough, Harriri’s lingers along with Gerehad, Stephano and myself but Christina and Liadi are well on the mend and thank you to Ann and Dr. Pat for your loving assistance here.

Thank you to Joelle and friends for bringing the skipping ropes . . . virtually all of our children are skipping now . . . Athuman just skipped by . . . and speaking of Athuman, we’ve had a breakthrough with him after his Bibi shared his history with us. (You may remember a meeting we conducted with Athuman and family due to his anger.) A couple of days ago, Athuman was riding a bicycle while Harriri, Katy and I were chatting . . . out of nowhere, Athuman began sharing with us about his father’s second wife hurting him.  Harriri, who obviously had knowledge of Athuman’s abuse, joined us in the conversation.  It was terribly sad to hear the story again, but his/their candidness about what had occurred was cathartic for him I think.  We all discussed how, what his stepmother had done was wrong, but that it was behind him and he could now proceed forward with a sense of security.  He ended the conversation without sadness . . . more a frankness about what had happened to him.  He has been happy, and peaceful, completing MOST homework and we’ve not had a complaint from school recently.  All in all it is good news for Athuman.  Please include him in your prayers.

Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful surprise . . . Krista (a young Tanzanian woman celebrating her twenty first birthday) and her boyfriend paid us a visit.  The two of them wanted to give thanks for their blessings and so Krista asked to share her birthday with some orphans and vulnerable children in need and, through an affiliation with Oddo, chose Tumaini.  They brought juice and cakes and popcorn for watoto (children) of Tumaini, gave thanks and we all celebrated her birthday together.  The children even sang for her.  We were very moved (particularly Mathilde) to be remembered in her celebration and the children were ecstatic to have a visitor bearing such delicious treats!

There is a village the near the Serengeti, I will get the spelling, where a former pastor is “curing” people of everything from high blood pressure to “HIV/AIDS”.  It is a frightening time here.  The rumors began with a person here or there leaving on buses, etc. and within just a couple of days millions have found their way.  There are no services in this village and so people are suffering while they wait, lacking food, sanitation, etc.  The military has become involved.  Several people, even within my own circle have gone for “treatment” and what is so terribly frightening is that, after being treated with a leaf from, I believe, a tree in the acacia family, (a favorite food of giraffe) dipped in water, the “patients” are then told they no longer require their dawa (medicine) and so stop taking ARV’s (which will introduce resistance), blood pressure, diabetic and other, life sustaining medications.  The gossip is rampant and people here, so desperate, are clamoring for any chance at a cure.  Oddo and I even contributed to one person’s travel costs (before it rose to 200,000 from 65,000 Tsh.) in order to have him return promptly, attend Dream (the HIV clinic here in Usa River) and have his HIV status confirmed so that we could dispel the rumors.  It didn’t work.  No one is waiting for confirmation, confident and blindly hopeful that they will no longer be sick.  If ever there was a place for a miracle, this is it, and how cynical of me to cast doubt, but, well, what is the old saying, “if it looks like a rat, walks like a rat, smells like a rat?”  We have two members of Langa ya Iruva waiting for their CD4 confirmation, plus probably eight others, either waiting in the village for treatment or enroute.  Please pray for them.

Katy and I went to town the other day for provisions for Tumaini House and returned to some loving (if not rather “extended” caricatures (see photos) and terms of endearment drawn with sidewalk chalk, on the walkways leading around the house!  Katy is no taller than I am (5’2) and yet the children, led by Francis and Athuman drew each of us well over eight feet tall!  My eye was larger than my “real” foot!  What a wonderful welcome home!

Homework proceeds!  Our children are, for the most part, bringing home some very impressive test results (English is such an important component and our newer students still struggle but continue to improve).  A big thank you again to our sponsors who make attendance at a quality English medium school possible for Tumaini’s children.  Many past visitors will attest to the progression of English within our Tumaini family.  Not only, but especially for our young children, English is advancing in everyday use.  Just tonight, when we took Baba Steve to the airport, Jenny, who accompanied him, (we try to include two children each trip so all will have an opportunity to see an ndege [airplane]), she fell asleep on the way home with an air pump in her hand.  Waking suddenly and still grasping the pump, she asked, in English, with a Swahili accent, “What is this?”  Harriri, today, wanting to accompany Baba, announced that he too was going in the gari (truck).  “I am going Mama,” he explained, pointing at me with finger wagging, “don’t forget!”  It was hysterical!

And finally, today was Baba Steve’s last day.  He is enroute “without Liadi in his suitcase as was promised”.  Liadi, Stephano, and one other child whom I cannot remember right now, announced that they were going home with Baba to Canada.  Liadi went so far as to sit in his bag, prior to packing!

Before Baba’s departure we had the “Mother of all Fires”, (see the photo) curing the new oven before we roasted chicken for supper.  Ala roasted dinners at home, and without the greasiness of deep frying, (which is how it is usually prepared) we enjoyed roasted carrots, onions, and kuku (chicken) with mashed potatoes and gravy (you are welcome Katy).  Wednesdays are the day our volunteers cook and for lunch, Lucy and Mathilde (with a lot of help from Margy) made pancakes for Shrove “Wednesday”.  (I know, I know, but it was still Tuesday in some parts of the world!).  For our volunteers who have not savored the tastes of home in awhile, and for most of our Tumaini family (for some the pancakes were too sweet), today was an epicurean delight!  We tease Oddo, who loves the mashed potatoes, calling them “ugali viazi”.  Viazi means potatoes in Kiswahili.

I will close.  It is hot, and there has been no rain.  We pray that the skies are storing their H20 for the oncoming and desperately needed “long rains”.  There is much conversation that they are not coming.  We do have water again (for now) but are cautious and keep a supply on hand “just in case”.  (Imagine giant garbage cans in the kitchen and 5 gallon buckets in each bathroom).  It is not pleasant trying to run a house with 24 children, (those who are home right now), eight staff and four volunteers without maji (water) . . . bucket “showers”, toilet flushing, etc. but we all come together and do what we can to help. With the exception of Daniel’s rash and our coughs we are well and happy!  Harriri will go next Wednesday night to the hospital in Tengeru for his umbilical hernia surgery.  I will accompany him and we will stay over.  Our volunteer Ayako is an R.N. in Japan and so will be invaluable in dressing changes, etc.  Dr. Lyimo will perform the surgery.  Harriri’s distended belly button is beginning to bother him, particularly now that he attends school where other children can be, well, children!  Pray for us please as we do you!  Zawadi fell, riding the bicycle, and received two stitches below his lip (only one remains . . .the second fell out!)  Ayako tends to that also.  The children send hugs to special friends (you know who you are) and count days until you return . . . please plan to!  Send me an email if you are contemplating a visit this summer, if you haven’t already and please, please, know how very grateful we are for your loving support . . . Asante!