First of all I’d like to send all of you, each person who loves us here at Tumaini a joyous and peace filled Easter holiday. For our part, we will enjoy “ugali Canada” (mashed potatoes), gravy, roasted meat, a sweet banana “stew” and a wonderfully delicious carrot dish followed by, Nan’s Chocolate Fudge Pudding, after church services tomorrow. Thank you all for making our Easter celebration possible and a special thank you once again to Mama Karen and the Just Ladies Travel Club for sponsoring our Easter safari. We went a little early to ensure our Katy could join us (we miss you terribly) and fun was had by all!
It has been quite a week. Last week was election day in this district. The M.P. of this area died, and, instead of democratically electing a replacement for him, the national ruling party “CCM” (Chama cha Mapinduzi, or “The Revolution Party”) unilaterally appointed the deceased’s son. Some believed it not the right decision. The opposing party (there is an election every five years in Tanzania, with the last in 2010), “Chedema” (The Democratic and Development Party) has a bigger voice than it has historically and in the end, won the election by a small margin. Now we at Tumaini had very little to say about things to this point, other than to grumble occasionally about the early morning music blaring from passing CCM vehicles as they travelled to their temporary headquarters at the end of our dead end street. The parade was daily and loud but so be it. Tanzanians like their music BLARING. What did become an enormous issue for us was what happened when rumors of said ruling party spread about them stealing the ballots at a voting station while the police turned a blind eye. All hell broke loose and the accused were just down the street . . .
We had begun our day with Harriri’s and Liadi’s Lutheran baptisms at our local church. We gifted them each with their own children’s bibles (which they haven’t put down and ask me to read regularly). Our own Nelson and Mary have become God brother and sister to Liadi and the headmistress of our local public school, Kilimani, and her husband Mama and Baba Makawa sponsored Harriri. It was a wonderful service, a wonderful morning and we all returned home in high spirits. I had to run a quick errand afterward and when I returned, volunteers Milou and Ceri greeted me at the gate with solemn news.
While I was gone, rioters had marched up the street, past our gate, headed to CCM headquarters. Hostile, angry, frustrated rioters with sticks beat people unfortunate enough to have crossed their paths and initially, our children witnessed the chaos from our front porch. I was out and Oddo had gone to Moshi to attend a funeral. Our volunteers wisely collected the children, brought them inside and inserted a video into our DVD to distract and settle them but everyone was fearful.
The rioters protested about how the government had allowed the ballots to be stolen and how they were refusing to announce Chedema’s victory on television. We heard gun shots and what we would later discover to be the explosion of “smoke” bombs which continued well into the night. Everyone was concerned the riot would escalate and larger, angrier crowds would come to CCM headquarters. If they did they would have to come right past Tumaini House.
At the service, a visiting preacher was speaking and we had permitted Kelvin, Neema, big Anna and Mwajuma to attend. After the rioting began Raymond, Lohai, Jeremiah and I took the truck and rushed down to get them. As we turned south from the main road to head down into the older part of the village, we came face to face with a massive crowd of angry protesters and realized immediately that the truck wasn’t going to get through. The boys felt that perhaps I or the vehicle might be targeted and urged Jeremiah and I to come home. They thought they could “blend” into the crowd, sneak past them and get to the church and get our children and that’s exactly what ended up happening. It was a frightening night as we hunkered down, unable to escape the sounds of shouting crowds and explosions. This continued into the night until a ferocious rain began which finally dispersed the crowds. It was announced that Chedema had won and Usa River settled down.
Oddo’s daughter Eliza has experienced another episode where she can’t remember what has happened, where she sort of “blacks out” but is mobile. I hesitate to share this but many people here (a surprising number) suspect it is a “possession” of some sort and she was taken for prayer. There were no physical post episodic symptoms other than her inability to remember. She initially complained of a headache, then rose and left the house, running all over the village until, exhausted, her family finally caught up with her. She had no memory of her experience complaining only of being “tired”. Following up the last time it happened Oddo discovered there were three other girls at school with Eliza waiting for their parents on the day he ran to pick her up, having experienced the same thing she had. It keeps coming back to some sort of toxicity but . . .
Lohai and Liadi have completely recovered from malaria and Reward, although initially struggling with recurring dizziness after finishing his dawa (medicine), says that most recently he is feeling better.
For your information, the photos (not the baptismal ones the safari ones) I’ve included with this letter are taken by Kelvin (12 yrs. old) while attending safari with Baba Dave and Dadas Jordan and Connie. They are spectacular hmmm? We’d like to produce a “Kelvin’s Calendar” for 2013 with all proceeds coming to Tumaini of course! What do you think?I hate to ask, knowing that you are busy with Easter and our approaching spring, but, our car needs new tires and I wonder if someone might be willing to help us out by organizing a fundraiser specifically focused on generating approximately $1,000.00 so that we can purchase new tires. For those of you who have been here you know how hard the “roads” are on the car. The old ones are simply worn out.
The rains have come. Daily and nightly we experience a deluge for usually an hour at least. Things are green. We have water. There is no dust. We do struggle with the Nairobi Fly, a tiny, ant looking insect which when squashed on the skin (a natural tendency once discovered) emits an acidic body fluid which, within a couple of days causes the skin to blister and peel, like a streaky burn. It is not too painful, simply uncomfortable. Malaria will become more prevalent in this weather.
Welcome to new volunteer Line (Denmark) and thank you for running with our older girls. Other than complaining of aching legs they are loving the attention!! Thank you Mama Teri for visiting and caring and sharing and to Stine and Anna for your time here with us. To Mama Teri and Baba Gary thank you so much for sponsoring Nelson. As you know he is a very deserving young man who truly needs our help if he is to succeed in his studies as he so obviously intends to.
Please keep Baba Raymond in your prayers as he has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is fearful of “modern” medicine, opting for “traditional” cures. We are arguing with him now to come for proper treatment. Also, please pray for one of our Mama Mzungu who is struggling with recently diagnosed cancer.
There is some chance the container has arrived already although we have no confirmation of that and it is not expected until next weekend. As soon as I hear, you will. We wait patiently for its arrival and I now intend to return to Canada on May 2nd.
Your Tumaini children are well. We are all home and busy and having fun “on holiday”. The children watched “Home Alone” last night and Liadi does “the scream” perfectly! It is hysterical! Be well, God bless you and Happy, happy Easter!