Home from the Hospital and Happy Birthday Angela . . .

First of all, a happy, happy birthday to Angela! It was cake but no ice cream today for everyone but the sickies . . . (no electricity translates into no ice cream!)

What a rough couple of days . . . things began with younger Daniel waking three mornings ago having susued in his bed (Diarrhea). Last night Liadi vomited in bed and then again, twice this morning, while I was talking to one of our mamas about taking Daniel to the clinic to be checked out. Said, (pronounced Sayid) came along to tell me he wasn’t feeling well either. The four of us, Said, Daniel, Liadi and I headed out on foot for Dr. Lyimo’s clinic.

The boys were brave for the most part and endured the always necessary prick of the finger in order to draw blood and eliminate any chance of malaria and then we were off to the choo (toilet) for “samples”. I’ll spare you the maternal duties performed here. Katy emailed me to say that Stephano had just vomited and should Jeremiah bring him in the car and so he too, joined us at the clinic.
Liadi is usually quite a vocal little guy but note to future cuddlers . . . he is not vocal when he is about to “atapika” “vomit”, all over you! Not once, but twice he let loose . . . after doing what we could to clean ourselves up, (it was an aromatic drive home), we received our diagnoses. Giardia.

Since Christmas we’ve had running water less than five days (one here and one there) and have been trucking water into Tumaini in large, plastic garbage cans. Our supply ran out in the village (a public tap), and Jeremiah was forced to take water from the river) After some probing we discovered that the boys were brushing their teeth one day and decided instead of trekking downstairs to get “safi” “clean” drinking water, to just scoop up some of the river water kept in an ndoo (bucket) for toilet use, rinsed their mouths and swallowed. I went through three sheets, one large towel, my blanket and two face cloths last night alone -remember that Margie washes in a bucket. It has been a painful, exhausting and messy lesson for all of us and a frightening reminder to me about the dangers of unsafe water, especially for children who have no choice and no access to medical care. Dehydration kills so many children here and millions live in the interior of Tanzania, miles and miles from any sort of clinic or hospital. We are so fortunate to have what we do here . . .

To our friends who supplied the washing machine and paid to get it here we cannot thank you enough and to Dell Pharmacy, Bibi Pat, (I know you worried that the medications would not be used efficiently) Dr. Rob, HPI and Joanie, for supplying us antibiotics, your guidance, your care . . . how do we thank you? There is someone here EVERY DAY on antibiotics for one thing or another and your generosity has helped us to keep medical costs down.

Mary, Reward and Nelson are all home at the same time right now and as Kelvin goes to day school at Haradali, the family is reunited once again and we have much to celebrate!  Nelson just finished his Form IV national exam and he and Mzamiru (our Mana OVC scholarship winner) performed well enough (especially in Math and Sciences – stay tuned for Nelson’s story) for us to fight to get him into a quality A level school . . . Mary and Reward are on three week break (Reward is doing very well and will have a second scan after this dose of medication finishes to ensure that all is well). They have just completed their exams and are confident they performed well and Kelvin brought home the highest grade in his Kiswahili and Science class!

The children at Tumaini continue to study (and learn) and visitors and volunteers continue to marvel at how happy they find our children to be! Volunteers Anna and Stine work daily with Liadi, little Aisha and now Said to bring along their knowledge of the alphabet, numbers and the writing of their names, etc. Every day I overhear Class I working with Teacher Winner, assisted by Mary, Reward, and our volunteers.

Our other children are working hard and will join us at the end of March for a month long term break and Raymond will come home on Sunday after completing his national exam in Form VI. The results of this exam will be the foundation for his continued education and so the pressure is on him and all of his classmates. He and other struggled through the flu while writing exams for these past two weeks . . .

Things are good for the most part. Oddo is away in Dar obtaining our tax exemption certificate for the container which should arrive on March 2nd and he needs to get home because their new baby will be delivered next Friday . . . we tease Oddo about who is really carrying the baby – tumbo mkubwa (big tummy)!

There has been no rain, for months and everything is parched. Two young Maasai girls came through our gate yesterday, 14 year old Lea and 12 year old Nwetamita(?) begging for help. Lea’s father abandoned them and Nwetamita’s is very old and of little help to the family who is starving because of the drought. Their crops have shriveled in the fields and there will be nothing to eat. We fed the girls, gave them some beans and rice and walked them down the hill to put them on a bus home. Begging them to go to school we invited them to return in a week to take what we can afford to share.

Oddo says the party’s over regarding electricity . . . we’ve enjoyd “regular” electricity through Christmas but explained that it is only because Parliament was sitting . . . and that’s over now . . . and so is “regular” umeme ” electricity!

Mama Esther, the mama whose home we are working on improving and who began her own bread making business with the help of a small loan is ecstatically busy and stopped by to make her second loan payment last weekend. We have helped changed a families’ fortune forever . . . it is a good, good feeling.

Canadian volunteers Diane, Becky, Meg and Char (Mama Corosh) brought a wonderful donation when they came and we put new grills into a classroom at Shule Kilimani, just down the road . . . it too was a wonderful feeling and we need to say thank you for making that possible! Photos will follow!!

All of our Mana OVC children in Standard 7 must write that critical national exam at the end of this year, AND pass it, else their academic opportunities cease . . . there is no extra tuition for the children at Shule Uraki (where our Chikira children attend) and so Nelson, who will be home for several months waiting for school placement, and aided by big sister and brother Mary and Reward, tutor them here. They come after school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and this week, despite us having paid their school fees, there was no food at school . . . they went through class and then came here to study without a meal! Sometimes things become disheartening . . . we fed them and put them to work preparing for that all important examination . . .

We are well (other than the vomiters) and send our most sincere thanks home to each of you who continue to love and support us here. Easter approaches and I’ll be back in Canada for that holiday having missed Christmas with my family and friends again this year . . . I look forward to coming home and thank each of you again, from the very bottom of my heart . . . be well!