Heri Mwaka Mpya kwa Tumaini!!!!

Happy New Year from Tumaini!!!!

It has been a bit of a struggle getting to the New Year but we’re here and we’d like to wish each of you the happiest and healthiest of 2012! We’re a tad dirtier for the most part going on our fourth day without water at Tumaini House, but, nonetheless, we’re here and safe and healthy (for the most part) and happy! Not everyone is feeling 100%. A nasty bug is going through the volunteer house and Francis, Gerhad and Harriri have come down with the same bug, giving them a deep, deep cough. Raymond too, studying at Makumira for his national exam is fighting the flu. It is hot and difficult bathing so many children from buckets but our landlord has promised to install a water tank soon, so that we might reserve water when it runs, for times (oh so many lately) when it does not.

Every day is laundry day at Tumaini . . . Dada Katy, fighting a very sore throat, in the rear!!!!

Our new cow house is nearing completion and will be home for Ranger (for as long as we have her), Tumaini and new Mama to be, Dorris and we have located another pregnant cow which will arrive after construction is complete . . . thank you again, SO much to our donors who so generously provided us with Christmas cattle!!!

Michael (Gerhad’s sponsor) and Mark, friends from Australia summited Kilimanjaro in the worst weather Gilbert, their guide, has ever seen in his more than 250 climbs! Horizontal rain and terrific winds made the climb extremely difficult and dangerous for everyone but they succeeded and we couldn’t be more proud of them! Michael and Mom worked hard before the climb fundraising for Tumaini and the local newspaper, The Fremantle Press, has offered to donate in honor of Michael’s success so we’ll keep you informed of his grand total but we’d all like to say Asante Kaka Michael and Mark and Mama please feel better soon!!! The children miss all of you too much!!! So does Mama!!!

We often need to go to town to provision Tumaini and last week was no exception . . . I try to take a rotation of children with me when I can to allow them some time away from home and some special time with Mama . . . last week Kelvin, Francis and Glory escorted me while we bought school supplies. Enroute, Glory, who has adopted the title, “Mama Dee Mdogo”, (little Mama Dee) poor thing, sang quietly all the way to town, some 30km. asking questions here and there which prompted me to ask her when she had last gone to town? “Never”, was her response. “Never”, I asked? “Never”. She answered.   Not once has Glory gone to town to look at dresses, or shoes, or toys, or gone out for a meal . . . we did all of that together! Like most of our girls, Glory wants a “western” outfit . . . knee length skirt, bolero or shrug style jacket and simple tee underneath. The problem quality. The clothing here is incredibly poorly made and of the lowest quality. The girls would be so much farther ahead to purchase a kitangi (large piece of beautifully colored fabric) and have us make them an outfit, but, like all little girls, they want what they think is the “rage”, quality be gone!!!! We’re working on it!!!!

You will remember the Egles family who visited us from Canada and are helping with our solar installation? Dave, his wife, Jackie and their children Jordan and Christopher? I forgot to mention a beautifully innocent question posed to me by one of our children when I shared with them that Baba Dave was bringing his watoto (children) with him . . . “Mama, do you have children in Canada?” Because our volunteers are adults and the children hadn’t been fortunate to meet any, they were unaware that our countries produced any little ones like themselves!!! It was a cute question and Christopher and Jordan’s (although she is a big girl!) answered their query!!!

We had some terribly sad news for Eva, Margaret and Tony who had to go home to give condolences to the family . . . their 24 year old Aunt died of a cocaine and pombe, (a local homebrew) overdose.  Hard drugs are everywhere I guess, and are particularly tragic here where there is no social assistance for addiction. I was saddened further to discover she left a nine year old son behind, now without any parent (the father fled as so many do) . . . so, sad.

Athumani, you may note, is missing from almost all Christmas photos . . . you will remember that he elbowed poor Beth in the face (one of our volunteers working with Athumani), almost breaking her nose after becoming jealous over sharing her with others and falling into a rage? After that incident we called a family meeting to discuss how we would deal with his outbursts . . . Athumani, and all primary students are off for the month of December and the family feared another issue so took him for “prayer” . . . traditional practices used to “cure” a child of “evil” spirits, etc.   Our psychiatrist, Dr. Pat, diagnosed Athuman with PTSD and came prepared to work with him for the month, but he was whisked away . . . calls went unanswered until we finally announced that we had no other option but to go the police unless Athuman was returned. We visit families all the time where a child is dropped into the lap of a bibi who is unable to provide proper care, or worse and we were afraid for Athuman . . . Several meetings later Baba Athuman came to speak with us with Bibi on his mother’s side, who has custody . . . Baba, (father) shared that, as a family, and afraid that in a rage Athuman might become more violent than he did with Beth, they decided to “cure” him. You will be surprised to hear that the “traditional” methods were unsuccessful . . . Dr. Pat and I were terribly frustrated because, in their fear and ignorance they prohibited Athuman from obtaining some much needed counselling! After our meeting today, Baba assured us that he will call his parents and have Athuman returned to Tumaini. Both Katy’s and my first question was, “when”? Baba has promised to call us at the latest, tomorrow, about when we might be able to have our little man back . . .

Thanks to Nurse Crotchet, “Diane” and Mama Rebecca for spending the afternoon piercing the girls’ ears earlier this week and thank you Mama Julie for providing us such a safe and efficient piece of equipment for doing so! They are over the moon and not even an “ouch” came out of a single one! I know what’s going on the list for Christmas NEXT year!!!!!!

The container is on its’ way . . . sort of. A mess with the trucking company had our container delayed just long enough for it to miss the boat . . . literally. It is in Brampton, Ontario or Montreal, QC and will leave on January 18th . . . it is STOCK full of goodies for us and we can’t wait for it to arrive!!! Asante Sana again Baba “C” for loving us and to all of our friends in Ohio and Ontario who helped so very much to make this happen! We should expect it the end of February!!!!

So! Yesterday I am sitting at my desk working when three young gents in red t-shirts stroll in . . . I vaguely recognize the eldest boy, I think, but no! It’s not him I recognize, but his MUCH younger brother, GERHAD . . . OUR Gerhad!!! The boys are his brothers, John 15, Ano, 12, and Alex, 10, who were as kind and polite as our own little man, WHO by the way, was not so interested in spending time with them . . . we’ve seen this before and suspect it is a fear the child conjures about being returned to the life he came from. Many times, for example, when the children go home to greet their families, Harriri, stays behind. We give them the choice to stay or go for a visit (most of them) and Harriri declines . . . I think the loss of his mother is still too raw for him to be comfortable with his extended family in the familial home he lived in at her death . . .

School starts tomorrow!!!! Shoes and uniforms and several hundred pounds of exercise books have been purchased . . . YOU have supplied us so wonderfully with pens and pencils and crayons and markers and math sets and rulers and erasers and special thanks to the classes of St. Michael’s University School and Glen Lyon Norfolk School in B.C. and to Mama, Dada Jordan and Kaka Christopher for oh so generously providing us pencil cases!!!!! Asante Sana!!!!

Let me close with a photo of our precious Mary who just returned from a visit to her Bibi.  She has asked to repeat Form I, the equivalent of first level in secondary school.  You will remember how sick she was last year, in failure of her antiretroviral medications and that her HIV status had blown up into AIDS.She was so sick and struggled in class and feels she does not possess a strong enough foundation upon which to take the next step academically.I am terribly proud of her choices and with blessings from Aunt Mayre and the Goodman family, we will honour her wishes!

Heri mwaka mpya – Happy New Year! And thank you . . . SOOOOOOOO very much, for loving all of us here at Tumaini!!!