5:30 a.m. from under the net…

The roosters are crowing and this time its little Rashid sleeping with Mama. Yesterday morning, in their haste to climb down from their bunk beds, Tony pushed Rashid, who hit his head and split the back of it open. He rested in my room yesterday, after we butterflied his wound together but he still wanted kulala (to sleep) with me . . .

Karibu to Teri from Springboro, Ohio who arrived safely last night (I was already asleep but will greet her this morning). Teri is a friend of Pam’s (my sister), who, with Bibi Janet, have settled into the Tumaini routine with full hearts and energy for the children. Pam asked how I prepare to leave. How I hug each of my children and get on a plane and return to my other life. I don’t even want to think about it, but, suffice it to say, it is difficult. Just ask Katy who returns to Canada after almost six months with us. We were discussing her departure yesterday morning and both of us choked up at just the thought . . . there will be no party, no send off for her as it is just too hard, for Katy AND for her little brothers and sisters. We truly have become a family . . .

I would like to welcome Milou, from Holland, who is joining us through Projects Abroad a volunteer organization we collaborate with. Milou had a shaky start in Dar Es Salaam to her volunteer experience of three months where her placement didn’t speak English and she found herself to be alone and terribly lonely . . . we are doing our best to ensure she feels welcome and welcomed and she too is settling into what I hope will become a full volunteer experience for her. Her focus is to work daily with Teacher Winner to assist the children who struggle with printing, reading and math. Children such as Tony, whose attitude is excellent but whose aptitude requires development, or little Latifa who is soooo bright but still requires help with printing.

And speaking of Projects Abroad, they will be joining us here in a few hours to paint our parameter wall which is, if you look in the background of our photos, is a dull, dreary grey. We hope to brighten the place up a bit here!!! Dorris, our cow is about to give birth any day I think and Holdem still provides milk for us every day. She will stop soon in order to prepare for the birth of her baby! Thanks to our donors we will be starting a herd soon and Ranger, the cow that was so sick we felt we would need to euthanize her is VERY slowly beginning to recover. Our veterinarian visits her every other week and treats her regularly and her lungs are beginning to clear. We are cautiously optimistic that she may survive. The children are in class and studying (Francis was number one in his class for both January and February, we are so proud). We have good days and bad, (we have attitude in Tanzania also!) but, MOST days are positive ones and the youngest children are learning that this is their chance to have a real future.

Thank you again to our friends who provided the opportunity to take our children on safari! We received a wonderful donation with instructions to gift the children at Easter and then the Just Ladies Travel Club (in the U.S.) visited us here at Tumaini House and added to the pot! Mama Pam and Bibi Janet have gifted us with the gas money required to hire a special vehicle to take our masses (62 of us will attend) down into the Ngorongoro Crater, after seeing Tarangire National Park and a night over at a hostel in Manyara, near the village of Karatu! You cannot imagine how excited the children are and all of us would like to pass a big Asante Sana on to everyone who helped make this possible! You may wonder why our Easter is coming so early. Dada Katy had to be included in our safari and with her departure next Tuesday, well . . . thank you all, so very much for making this possible!

Yesterday was Nelson’s(Mary,Reward and Kelvin’s brother) 18th birthday and I persuaded him to join us for dinner and a birthday cake! (He stays alone at his home in the village while he waits for his advanced level school placement . . . you may remember the District Education Office Demare Mchome trying to help us get he and Mzamiru both of whom excelled in sciences and math a good placement???) He messaged me yesterday before he arrived, to tell me this would be his first birthday celebration EVER and that he was very excited! We will go together next week to town to choose an appropriate birthday gift for him . . . AND, today is Zawadi’s eighth birthday! Zawadi wanted to enjoy his cake with Kaka Nelson and so they did so together, and thanks to the Crooks family who help support Zawadi for your continued love (and your birthday gift)!

Nelson’s sister Mary, attending second year university in Dar Es Salaam is struggling with both the flu and malaria. She has received treatment but is very uncomfortable right now . . .We are getting our ringworm contained! Griseofleuvin seems to be a wonder drug for treating this impossibly difficult head fungus which “pulps” the scalp in large, scabby blotches, and although not really painful, is terribly embarrassing for our children to endure. Emmanuel has struggled on and off since last year but he seems to be almost cured of it! A Tanzanian Doctor Martha visited and inspected our children and advised we try it! A Godsend I hope for Emmanuel, Gerehad, Martha and Anna whose scalps are virtually clear again!

We will need sponsorship support friends for (12 yr. old) Neema, who is the child I spoke about, HIV+ and who has lost 5kg. (9 lbs.) in just six months as a result of her living situation with a very poor Bibi. She weighs the same as our seven year old Neema. We have seen the fatal combination of malnutrition and HIV and what it wreaks on a child’s body, a child’s life. We cannot allow it to happen to this little girl! Bibi Janet has already offered to help where she can but Neema will require monthly support to the tune of $144.00 as will the little man sleeping beside me Rashid . . . both are darling and deserving little people. Polar opposites of each other, Neema is outgoing, gregarious and a chatterbox, and so happy to be here . . . Rashid on the other hand is very serious and one can see fear in his eyes although he is just beginning to open a bit and even smiles on occasion! Both need our help, for it simply isn’t available in their homes, living with desperately poor grandmothers.

We’ve had a meeting with SOS about Athuman. The village director and his assistant (Justin, whom we met on our initial visit) came to Tumaini and all of us sat down to talk. As we suspected, neither we, nor they, were told the truth about Athuman’s situation and after a long discussion, sharing what each of us knows about the family, the children and the situations, SOS has decided to reapproach the family, tell them what they know and then SOS and Tumaini will attempt to return Athuman here, along with his younger sister Nasma and keep the siblings together. I explained to SOS that we will need to find sponsorship support for Nasma before we can welcome her but how nice would it be for brothers and sisters to be here together? And speaking of that, Gaspar has been assessed and is taking daily study in reading, writing and Kiswahili to start, from his own, one on one, instructor and Anna (who suffered the extraction of an abscessed tooth two days ago-don’t ask about the method) is hoping to feel well enough to join us tomorrow on safari!

I hope you are well . . . our container is now definitely scheduled to arrive on the 30th, in Dar, and I hope to see my husband just before it does . . . it has been too long apart. Every day our children, your children change and learn and grow and I have no words to express the gratitude I feel for the loving support you continue to show them . . . their English is remarkable and their spirits . . . they will survive their heartbreaking beginnings with your care and shine and each of us here, wishes each of you there, our love and our thanks. Be well. Know you are loved . . . and appreciated, so very much!!