Dada Mdogo . . .

I don’t know if I can explain myself properly and do not want to offend because I will brag about family, but I must try so please bear with me.

My sister Pam left Tumaini last night with our newest Bibi (Janet) after three weeks of full on Tumaini loving. We escorted them, with Pendo whom she sponsors, Said (pronounced Sieed) whom Janet helped with English, little Daniel who steals everyone’s heart, and Liadi. We saw them off at the airport and I shared with Pam how proud of her I am. How grateful I am that she invested the time, money and energy to come and share in her big sister’s vision. Long before Pam came she spent hundreds of hours fundraising, speaking, scheduling events for me to speak at, shopping, laminating, screening and sorting donations to come to Canada and then on to Tanzania. Her efforts resulted in my meeting a very special and caring family in the U.S. who sponsored the shipment of our soon to arrive (hopefully) container. That family not only foot the bill to get it here, they worked diligently to help fill it with their own donations. They were the depot all U.S. donations shipped to before coming to my family farm in Ontario, Canada. Pam brought Bibi Janet and Mama Teri here to Tumaini and they in turn brought their own special gifts. A friend bought us a much needed cow (pregnant and ready to deliver any day) which provides our children with milk daily. Another friend supplied a ton of soccer/futbol equipment and many, many friends have embraced Tumaini as a result of her efforts and contributed physically and financially to the care of our family.

I marvel at her because I know our history. I know her lifestyle. We did not enjoy a love filled childhood. Pam received very little affection growing up and NO assistance with her post secondary education. She had to find her own way as our parents just didn’t care and yet, from somewhere within she realizes how important her giving is to these children, to Tumaini. She is not wealthy and yet her family sacrificed her presence and the many of hundreds of dollars it cost for her to come here and help us. Once here, she and Bibi were quick to reach out and provide assistance to numerous needs here in the village. They purchased the sand to finish the front walk of the classroom we’ll finish painting today for kindergarten at a local government school and they PAINTED that classroom! They paid the rent for Dada Omari whose sick infant forces her to stay home and care for her instead of finding day work which would have covered that rent. They contributed to the gas for our children’s safari and bought us kuku (chicken) as a special treat for the children on their last Saturday here. They worked with our weaker students daily to help them progress in their English and they joined us (49) excited and rambunctious and noisy and occasionally vomiting children on safari and forewent what would have been a much more luxurious experience had they travelled in a smaller group but they WANTED to be with the children.

Standing at the airport, watching my sister check in her bags and give us one more tearful (she’s a crier) wave goodbye, I felt such happiness and yes, I must admit, pride. Africa is not for everyone and Pam has a few “phobias” she overcame in order to join me here. She is not a bug person although she was virtually consumed by them while here. She worried about the food and falling sick and coming face to face with a snake or a roach or a monster spider, and but for the snake she experienced them all . . . and she endured, with joy and love for these children we love so much. She and Janet have some hilarious stories they’ll share and I think both of them will be back . . . I know we hope they will.

So back to the airport. Waving her off, I was, and still am moved by the commitment, the sacrifice she made to join us here. By the support she gives Tumaini every month to help us sustain ourselves. And while I was standing at the airport feeling so very grateful to her I was reminded that each of you who comes to Tumaini makes the same sorts of sacrifices in order to be here with us. I appreciate hers because I know her so intimately, much more than most other visitors/volunteers, but you, each of you, and the sacrifices YOU make in order to be with us, which I know nothing about, is no less significant, nor, less appreciated and that is the moral of this story. It is so very important that each of you who visit Tumaini knows how terribly grateful we are for you having joined us. For the gifts, large or small, you bring. For the skills you share. For the love you give. I cannot appreciate your sacrifices to the same extent because I do not know you as well as I know my sister, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say . . . thank you! To sponsors who month after month embrace that child you choose to help. To those of you who work so hard to fundraise for us and send us much needed money to carry on our support. To you who come and live with us and sometimes get chewed on by bugs and vomited on by children, and eat beans WAYYYYYY more often than you prefer . . . please accept a sincerely appreciative mother’s thank you.

Month end exams are ongoing today. Tony continues to struggle and we are trying to diagnose why. He is willing and enthusiastic. Simply, he doesn’t seem to grasp different concepts necessary for him to build a solid foundation and advance academically. Latifa continues to work to catch up. The rest of class one continues to progress. Gerehad and Nelson and Zawadi and Latifa and Liadi are all a year older this month and thank you to sponsors for sending gifts and cards and well wishes . . .

Awards will be presented at Amani school on Friday (Marko, Rwekiza, Josephat, Francis, Esther, Gerehad and Jenny) and our Haradali children will come home Friday night for a month’s break. (Mwajuma, Mwanhamisi, Lucia, Baraka, Evalin, Lazaro, Emmanuel, Margaret). Kelvin and Connie, newly cosponsored by the Egles family from B.C. Canada (Dave and Jackie and Jordan and Christopher), are on safari together and getting to know each other on a more personal level. It is always our wish that sponsors and their child(ren) work to establish and maintain a relationship. Cards, emails, letters, even the occasional phone call are always welcome!

Baba Dave Egles has wired our house for our new solar installation which will come, one day, in the container. He has become our resident Mr. Fix It and daughter Jordan has toured local schools good and bad and will report to us her findings.

We are well. Healthy for the most part and looking forward to the upcoming school break. Lohai is completely recovered from malaria and we wait to see how Reward reacts after his dawa (medicine) finishes. He most recent scan shows no parasite in his brain. Thank God! We (Oddo and I) rushed to the Chikira family (a family of orphaned children we outreach to) to pick up Wema (12 years old) convulsing with fever. We rushed her to the hospital but there is no lab in the evening and so I brought her home, got her fever down with some dawa (medicine), fed and showered her and she is asleep beside me. We will see Dr. Lyimo in the morning but I don’t fear malaria. THAT is a relief.

Hoping all of you are well and your preparations for Easter are coming together as you wish. I had hoped to be home for Easter but the container delay prohibits that. Be well and thank you again, to each of you Tumainites who love and support us daily.