March 23 from Mama

March 23 – EARLY!

The day began at 3:32 a.m. with Harriri weeping in pain . . . I think he had played too aggressively yesterday and paid for it in the night.  I gave him his pain medication and we focused on zebra and leopard (his favorite) until the pain subsided and he was able to sleep again.  He is still resting.

Volunteers Candice and Lucy went on safari and returned, one (Candice) with about 100 of the worst flea bites I have seen . . . (never mind dog flea, think buffalo or elephant flea).  Boy did she react . . . and poor Lucy has been down since she returned with abdominal pain and the “you know whats”!  Poor girls, all they wanted to do was see some animals!  Lucy has been to the doctor and when I left their room last night Candice was painting herself in calamine, and Ayako too has been experiencing abdominal nasties . . . pole (polay) sorry girls!

Month end exams began yesterday . . . wish us luck because they are followed by report cards and then a one month break! (For the primary students only.  Secondary students remain in class).

We’ve had some wonderful success with our outreach programs . . . The Chikira family is repaired (house), rebuilt (toilet and beds) and replanted (maize).  The youngest children are in school (although a child took a pen and stabbed poor little Carol in the eye and when I saw her a couple of days ago it was still swollen shut!) and we will see results from THEIR academic efforts early next month also!

Pendo, the little girl the Dream HIV/AIDS clinic begged us to help (thank you Dr. Pat for bringing us Dan) their house is repaired, they now have a flood proof (we hope) FLOOR, new beds, new uniforms, a secure door AND window and no problems!  Well, everyone has problems, but they now have considerably FEWER problems than before!

And then there is Twalib!  Twalib (HIV+) is a young man (14 or 15) who, despite an agreement with his uncle (his parents have both died of AIDS) to provide him with basic necessities for an HIV+ child (eggs, milk, etc.) and especially after DREAM argued that the care he was receiving was so poor that he had to leave his birth home (a five room brick and stucco structure with a large yard) , where his uncle and HIS family were living rent free (you see where this is going?) and move into a single room with his Bibi (grandmother), Twalib’s uncle allowed his milk bill to fall into arrears until the supplier stopped providing it and milk is a vital foodstuff for an HIV+ child.  We intervened with the family (and village council) and eventually, after much argument, got the uncle to bring the milk account up to date, AND promise to pay a fair monthly rent for living in the house . . . half of which will go to Twalib and half to his sister . . . these are the types of outreach projects we do with Mana OVC and Langa ya Iruva, the orphan and adults living with AIDS support groups we assist and from where many of our children originate.  (The list includes Jenny, Neema, Eliza, Stephano, Lazaro, Aisha, Angela, Glory, Athuman, Harriri, Liadi and siblings, and Mary, Reward, Nelson and Kelvin Minja.)

Can you say RAIN?  WOW!  It rained SO hard last night I thought the drops (more like PELLETS) were going to drill their way through our oh, so very thin gauge corrugated metal roof, BUT, no complaints . . . the locals have feared the desperately needed long rains wouldn’t come and now that they are here (while we’re talking about it can you say MOSQUITOES?) we shouldn’t have the water shortage problems we’ve experienced in the past.

And some of the family has gone down with illness this week . . . Lohai is going on day three with a debilitating headache and some nasty “boils” coming up on his arms and other than a trip to Dr. Lyimo, has not been out of bed.  He tested negative for malaria but for those of you who know him, you KNOW how sick he must be to not be up and at ’em at the first hint of morning . . . Athuman was hot with fever yesterday afternoon but seems better this morning, Gracie has tonsillitis and is on an antibiotic and Stephano, poor Stephano came to my room yesterday morning at 6:30 with tears streaming down his face from a headache and fever . . . he too tested negative for malaria.  I’ve kept him home for another day, despite exams because he still has the fever.

Katy heads home in less than two weeks so we are planning a dinner out for Margaret, Emma, Evalin, Angela, Eliza, Lazaro, Mwajuma (our Haradali boarding students) in order for the children to say goodbye, AND, we’ll be eating your GOAT next weekend!  I cannot specifically identify WHOSE goats we will be savoring, but Katy assures me, when I ask her about eating meat (she came here a vegetarian), “Dee, I am OVER that meat thing!” and so we’ll be slaughtering two delectable creatures and putting them on the grill in her honor!

I hope you all are well.  I spoke with my sister this morning and she informed me that spring has not yet “sprung” as it snowed again last night but that there has been promise of it to come.  Thank you so much for caring about us, these wonderful little people who are growing and learning and playing and, did I say “growing”.  Liadi needs new school shoes, Francis’ uniform is about two inches too short for him and all the bigger boys needed new uniforms this year.  Aisha has decided that she wants to grow her hair long again, Jenny has turned into a very serious little student after a shaky start and Athuman has been happy for the most part of late.  Zawadi got into trouble yesterday for dismantling the indicator cover from a car at school (he’ll be a mad scientist or something when he grows up I am certain) and Latifa has turned into a chatterbox (in English)!  Gerehad’s birthday is fast approaching (sorry no parcels here yet) and we have a MITFULL of them in April . . . once again thank you, and be well!