It is New Year’s Eve and I am here with most of our Tumaini family. Some of our older Lutherans have gone to church and Lohai drove them. The children had a choice tonight to begin their new year’s celebration with a movie (Merlin) or dancing and they have chosen the movie. They are enjoying peanut butter “scones” and apples with popcorn on the side and we will wait for the Lutherans to return before we light our fireworks. I was fortunate to find sparklers at my spice and cashew store (Korosho you remember)? Our big celebration will be tomorrow.
Our volunteers are across the street “lubricating” but in a much milder fashion than the norm and they will, I am certain, join us for our dancing festivities. We have already lost Nasma to lala (sleep) and four of our children will miss our celebration for bad choices they have made but the rest of the gang are terribly excited to bring in the new year!
It has been a busy year. We have struggled with AIDS for Mama Angela and Glory and she is terribly sick again. She will attend the Dream Clinic in two days to be assessed and to see if there is anything we can do. Glory’s CD4 dropped precariously and without explanation and both Mary and Neema decided at one time this year that they needn’t take their dawa (medications) and we had to take a “strong” stand in “correcting” their attitudes. It is pretty simple. Without proper adherence to their meds they will die . . . and we have told them as much.
We have our enemies and they attempt to hurt us but we have been fortunate enough to discover their intentions and thwart them enroute. We work to stay together as a family.Our children grow and change and for the most in good directions. We continue to struggle with rage and grief and tabia (attitude) with some but there have been some beautiful developments in this past year. I always worry about “spoiling” our children. They had nothing when we met them and now have so very much and sometimes struggle with their need for gratitude. Our volunteers and some of our children went down into the village and handed out dollys to children who have nothing and we will visit another orphanage to remind our children just how much they have.
Our volunteers . . . wow. Loving, giving, sharing, caring, and yet they must work hard to remember that we are the guests in this country. It is so very easy to impose ourselves upon the people of Tanzania, child or adult . . . our judgements and prejudices . . . our lack of faith, and these impositions are incredibly dangerous in a country where so many have nothing BUT faith to hold onto. Each volunteer is a teacher and each child a vacuum . . . seeing and hearing EVERYTHING and this country, this culture hits most first time visitors right in the face. The need, the differences elevate our own emotional issues and force us to look hard inside and assess. Coming to Tumaini is ALWAYS an emotional journey.
One of our friends was murdered and has left two children without care or support.. We lost a bibi we loved and cared for. We acquired a new teacher and she is capable and promising, although we must work to iron out some philosophical issues that contradict our policies at Tumaini. Oddo, my partner is well and happy and working hard to facilitate the many things we count on him for. His newest son Reuben grows and is walking and just beginning to say a few words.
Our dream of acquiring our own land is just days from reality and that opportunity will open new doors for us, our children, our future. And finally, to all of you . . . I struggle to find words (I always do) to express our gratitude for the continued love and support we enjoy from each of you. We are just a tiny, shoestring charity, living from month to month on your contributions and a faith that they will continue. We struggle every day to care for our family here and to ensure that your dollars are spent wisely and we are grateful.
Until you join us here, until you see firsthand the blatant need, the absolute destitution and squalor so many poor Tanzanian orphans struggle with daily, it is difficult to realize just how important your support is, but please trust me. Without you, without your heart and your dollars we just couldn’t continue.
I began four years ago on a wing and a prayer and my partner Oddo brought his skills and his heart. We began caring for 24 children and have grown to more than fifty. Good food, a safe and healthy environment, quality education and medical care . . . EVERY DAY. Love, lessons, kindness and empathy. A fair but firm hand in the lessons of life. We work hard, very hard, every day, and we do it because there is simply no one else to care for these children who need us so desperately. We have saved lives and changed lives and we build lives, opportunities where none previously existed and we CAN do that because people like you help us. We are grateful . . . very, and we ask that you take a moment tonight, on New Year’s Eve, as we welcome 2014, to applaud yourselves for your commitment to us . . . for your hearts and your love.
We cannot continue without you . . . we cannot grow and so we take this moment to send our thanks to each of you. Asante sana . . . thank you very much and Mwaka Mpya, Happy New Year, from more than fifty children in Africa, and their Mama . . . thank you.