A Home Visit – “Shida” “Problem” Here? Shida Ningi! Many Problems!

People ask all the time how our outreach begins, where the families we help come from, and how we choose those we will help. Bibi Lucia’s family and our recent visit to their home illustrate clearly the extreme conditions many people find themselves living in.

On Tuesday of this past week an older woman (Bibi Lucia) with a small, very pretty little girl (Evelin) walked through our gate at Tumaini House. We try to keep the gate locked to prevent people just wandering in but one of us had forgotten. Bibi found her way to my office where Oddo and I were working together. After formal greetings (a custom here), Bibi was seated and began her story.

Bibi Lucia is from the “interior” of Tanzania. She lost her husband a number of years ago and was struggling along as a widow until her health began to fail. Her daughter (Esther), out of love for her mother, and in a very uncustomary act, asked her husband to allow his mother in law to come and live with them. Uncustomarily, he said yes. That was last year. Her health has stabilized (blood pressure mostly) and the family has been scraping by.

As an aside, Esther, her husband and teen children have been building a home for four years and were renting two rooms, one for them, one for Bibi, while construction progressed. Progress is slow . . . As of our visit the house has walls (rough brick with gaps present), a sheet metal roof (with eaves and gables exposed), no windows, some grills (the ironworks placed into the windows for security) and no doors. The floor is rough, raw concrete. I mentioned they’ve been saving and adding a bit here and there for the past four years. Mume Esther (her husband) is a meter reader and at present she has no income.

Enter Lucia Alex, (DOB Oct. 20, 2002) granddaughter of Bibi Lucia, her namesake and sister to that pretty little girl Evelin (DOB Jul. 24, 2008). In January of 2011 Lucia and Evelin buried their mother just three years after their father’s death in 2008 and only weeks after Evelin’s birth. Knowing that Bibi had health issues and was fortunate enough to be allowed to reside with her son in-law, the family was loathe to burden her with the children of her dead daughter, which IS customary here. Eventually though, it became apparent that, even with her struggles Bibi was the best candidate to provide for the girls. Family discussions ensued, Esther’s husband, (my partner Oddo marvels at the compassion this man has for his in-laws as it is NOT traditional) acquiesced and the girls were brought to their Bibi.

Money, which was tight, became tighter still and the family had to give up those two rooms they were renting and move to their unfinished, unsecure home. They live and sleep, every day and night, without a door or a blockade of any kind preventing intruders, human or otherwise, from entering their home.

Additionally, Esther has a sister (Neema) who has a six year old son (Baraka) and a new baby Belina (7 mos). During her pregnancy she was tested and discovered that she is HIV+. We had the children tested and Baraka is negative but it is too soon to tell for baby Belina and so we wait. An immediate problem for her is that Neema cannot nurse and so milk must be purchased for her. Fearing her husband will leave her once he discovers she is positive, she has declined to inform him. We explained as strongly as we could that, (she swears she has been monogamous) if she doesn’t tell him soon and he receives treatment, he will fall ill and leave her in a different way . . . please pray for courage . . .

There is no money for school, little for food and none left over to secure that house. Bibi and Esther shared their struggles with friends, our name came up, and Bibi trekked up here to ask for help. Oddo and I and volunteers Luke and Dallas from Canada visited their home and we recorded the family history which brings us to today.

We’ve asked our fundis (carpenter and ironsmith) to go to the house and provide estimates for doors and grills to secure the house. A very pleasantly surprised husband calculated what we will need to make the house livable. It has three bedrooms (the children sleep on the floor, lacking beds), a large living/dining space and a kitchen. There are three doorways and the house still requires two grills. The floor needs the cement finished to level it. I am asking for your help.

What have we done thus far? We are paying for milk for baby Belina. We’ve put Lucia, who is a very fearful and serious little girl (I can appreciate why), slow to smile, very gentle and very willing, to listen, to obey, to study, into Haradali Boarding School on a promise to pay. We have purchased her uniforms, mattress and linens, and school supplies. We have done the same for Baraka who is virtually silent, quicker with a smile but still serious and carries the responsibility of caring for his sick mother and potentially sick little sister on his tiny (and they are tiny as he is especially small for his six years) shoulders. When you look in his face you can see that he recognizes his responsibilities already . . .

I have made a small business loan to Mama Esther who will partner with her sister (a pragmatic decision in case her husband leaves her) and bake and sell bread. They should net about 25,000 shillings each, weekly (about $16.00) and this, in conjunction with Esther’s husband’s income will change the course of the both families’ lives.

I am not asking for sponsorship or any sort of ongoing support. I am hoping you will help us help this family secure their home and establish a stable environment for everyone. The family count now sits at eleven. Here is what we need:

Milk for Belina for three months                                SH.     90,000 or   $57.00

Two sets of bunk beds                                                  SH. 400,000 or $253.00

Mattresses, sheets and blankets for 4 beds             SH.  220,000 or $139.00

School Fees for Lucia for one year                             SH. 1234,000 or $781.00

School Fees for Baraka for one year                          SH. 1234,000 or $781.00

Sand, gravel and soil to mix with cement:                SH.  610,000 or $386.00

40 bags of cement:                                                        SH. 600,000 or $380.00

Nails                                                                                 SH.    96,000 or $   61.00

Lumber -Esther’s husband said this could wait      SH.  800,000 or $506.00

Ceiling Board (He said to wait for this also)            SH. 578,000 or $366.00

Fundi (labor) (This too will wait)                              SH.   60,000 or $   40.00

Doors                                                                                SH.  794,000 or $503.00 (FYI-Profit? $20.00)

Grills required for security-Doors/windows            SH. 705,500 or $443.00 (Profit? $70.00)

JUMLA/TOTAL                                                        SH. 7421,500 or $4,697.00

I just totalled that number! That is a lot of money . . . true . . . BUT, it corresponds to just $427.00 per family member and six of them are children! If we could just find eleven people each to give us $427.00, or,  eleven groups of people to compile the $427.00, or, perhaps if one or another of you could choose from the list above what you may be able to help with, THAT, would be wonderful!

This is how we outreach at Tumaini . . . we meet, listen, visit and assess need and then we reach out for help. I’ve attached photos for inspection and will do on completion. So many of you would like to help but you don’t really know where your dollars go. You can help this family now and watch the progress of every dollar . . .For caring, for wanting to help, thank you so very much!

Mama . . .