April 10th from Mama . . .


The rains have been falling with just enough sunshine . . . Baby Junior is asleep in my bed as I write this . . .  The children have just returned from playing football and are sweeping the walk and taking their clothes off the line and upstairs to their shelves . . . I can catch the aroma of frying chips for our Saturday night chipsi mayai (french fry omelette) (we miss you too Shivaun) . . . Last night we enjoyed dancing and treats, our party after trying our VERY best for four weeks to be good children . . . almost ALL of us made it to the party . . . Haradali boarding students are home, Kisimiri boys will come shortly . . . Marko is home . . . we miss Raymond and Nelson . . .

Did you know that on Tuesday and Thursday nights we have bible study for our older children in my office and then they teach the youngsters on Saturday mornings?  It is FANTASTIC! Thank you Francis and Wema for being our teachers this weekend . . .

Almost all are well at Tumaini.  The rain falls (so desperately needed), and the children study (well most of them), and report cards are coming in (and most are strong), and virtually everyone is healthy so we have much for which to be thankful.

Esther has been struggling in the past few months with recurring, sudden and jarring pain in her knees, usually following vigorous play.  For those of you who know her , “energy” is her middle name for she is always running, dancing, playing, but lately, she will suddenly burst into tears, (surprising for she didn’t cry even after her surgeries), and collapse in excruciating pain.  It seems that her knee “locks” up and until it releases, sometimes hours later, there is little to be done except to put her to bed and give her pain medication.  The most recent episode took 1 ½ days to pass.

We have taken her for x-rays and nothing shows up but her condition speaks to the “fusing” of her joints.  We are concerned that the situation will worsen and she will become incapacitated.  We are going to need to investigate further surgical options for her.

Little Daniel, Martha, Anna and Gerehad, all formerly from Songea, Oddo’s village, will return for the first time since they joined us in 2010 to visit family.  Oddo is excitedly preparing and his eldest daughter Elizabeth and son Chi will accompany the entourage.  They leave Saturday morning and will be gone for two weeks.  Please include them in your prayers for a safe safari and that they manage the reintroduction to their old lives well.  We are a bit concerned with how they will process this transition.

You may remember that Daniel’s mother has died since he joined us here so things may be difficult, BUT, Martha and Anna will be reunited with their mother who was pardoned from prison for “killing” her infant.  (She accidentally rolled over and suffocated him but was convicted and imprisoned nonetheless.)  Gerehad will also be a bit of a study for when his brothers visited him here at Tumaini two years ago he didn’t want anything to do with them.  We wonder what goes on inside those little heads . . .

I must apologize to friends who have been trying to Skype with me this trip.  I just discovered yesterday that my Skype account was open on another computer and the operator didn’t realize it was my account.  She would, OFTEN, get calls from some of you, FOR ME, and we’ve only figured this out now.  I have not had access to my Skype account and until yesterday thought most of you just stopped loving me . . .

Congratulations to Kris and father Wil Van der Linden of The Netherlands who have just established Tumaini Nederland.  This family (and their friends) have already provided generous assistance to us here at Tumaini and now are “formally” registered (think tax receipts) and working hard to continue helping.  We thank you SOOOOOOOOOO very much and now have international support in Australia, U.S., Belgium AND the Netherlands.  Asante Sana!!

Thank you to Rolph Street Public School (Miss Chever’s class) in Tillsonburg, Canada for their donation towards school reading books AND, for the wonderful world map you sent us, AND for your letters!  We have written back to you and are still shopping for more titles!  Asante Sana!

And further thanks to the Kid’s Connection of Avondale United Church in Tillsonburg, Canada for choosing to sponsor our special girl Esther!  She has sent you her thank you and looks forward to getting to know you all!  Thank you!!

If you’ve ever wondered where God lives, Oddo and I are convinced it is right here at Tumaini.  Some time ago, we were asked, (more like begged) to make a home visit to see if there was something we could do to assist a boy named Goodluck.  His mother abandoned the family years ago and the father died last fall.  Goodluck (age 8-9) and his older brother Reginald (age 12ish) went to live with their aunt near the sub village of Kikwe (another family whose lives Tumaini has changed).

As is customary for Oddo and me, we scheduled a home visit and met first an uncle and the shangazi (aunt).  Goodluck was brought home from school to greet us and we were given a tour of the property.

The yard was pristine . . .  TOO pristine.  The original house has collapsed and the family is living in a modified chicken shed.  We discovered only today that the aunt is a school teacher and as this story unfolds, you will appreciate the horror of that fact.  Oddo and I looked around with shangazi, and another aunt, (the woman who pled with us to help the boys).  The yard didn’t have a piece of grass, not a weed, nor a stone.  It was an immaculately swept parcel of dirt and someone had painstakingly done that cleaning.

Goodluck was somber and although in uniform was terribly disheveled.  One sleeve of his shirt was missing; the zip of his trousers was broken; the belt he used to hold up his pants was waaaaaay too big for him and he had no socks.  He also had a nasty, festering sore on his foot, but it wasn’t the foot or his uniform or the condition of the yard that got to us  . . . we felt something we couldn’t identify and both of us decided to invite Goodluck to come and visit Tumaini.

He, the two aunts and big brother Reggie met us at Tumaini and we showed them around.  Again I was struck by Goodluck’s melancholy.  He is a strikingly handsome little man but the sadness he carried was overwhelming.  For a reason I could not identify I knew we had to protect this boy and I invited him to stay.  He didn’t even go home to collect his clothes.   Fearful of not finding sponsorship I explained to the family that Reggie would have to wait until we could find support.  I was told later that he sobbed all the way home.

Yesterday, Nina,  one of our volunteers came to me asking what was wrong with Goodluck’s legs.  I called him into my office last night (Oddo was with me) and asked to see them.  He explained that he had burnt his legs on a piki piki (motorcycle) but it just didn’t ring true.  How do you burn the inside of both legs?  With a bit of prodding he confessed that his aunt had burned him.  She had locked his legs into the legs of a stool so he couldn’t move and then “melted” both sides of his inner calves with a red hot log.  The scars are long and deep and his legs still give him pain.  He will be scarred for the rest of his life . . . and why?  Because his teacher had kept him at school late (he is near the top of his class) and his aunt was angry.

The yard?  The melancholy?  All was suddenly explainable and Oddo and I rushed to the church and demanded that Auntie bring big brother Reggie immediately for we truly feared for his life.

Some of you will be familiar with the euphoria felt once mortal danger passes.  Both boys walk around here shaking their heads, mouths open, in marvel.  Reggie keeps taking my hand and shaking it, telling me thank you and Goodluck (who slept over last night with Harriri) cannot get the smile off of his face.  I repeatedly catch them gazing at each other across the yard or the table, (brother to brother) and then breaking out in laughter.  Goodluck keeps hugging me and won’t let go.  I believe both boys are still in shock.

I cannot comprehend (and we have no psychological services here) what has gone on in their heads since they were placed with this aunt.  I cannot imagine the pain Goodluck experienced while she burnt first one leg and then the other.  I do not know what the fallout will be for these boys but for now they are safe.  They are enjoying these new moments of laughter and freedom and boy, oh boy is Goodluck SMART!  I have not spent enough time with Reggie yet to assess him but Goodluck?  Wow!

Please include them in your prayers.  Please pray that they adjust well in their new homes and are not too haunted by what horrors they have endured.

And if that were not enough for one week, we had two more home visits.  One was rewarding and uplifting . . . the donation of a wheelchair to a crippled woman whose grandson our very own Christian had met while out for a “roll” here in his own chair.  (Christian volunteered with us for three months and hopes to return again.) He made quite a statement rolling down the mud streets of Usa River and he met and befriended a fellow whose grandmother was incapacitated and housebound.  Her chair has freed her and she can now become mobile.

The final visit was another horror story.  A little boy named Alen (7ish) pilfered the day’s dagaa (tiny, dehydrated fish, boiled and often eaten with ugali (maize “porridge”).   A hung-over “Dad” discovered the crime and as punishment held his hands over the fire burning the skin off the backs of both.  He is only just recovering.

Dad is in jail but it is suspected he will be found kichaa (insane) and then the courts will release him to return home.  Alen is not safe and thus, we again had no choice but to bring him to Tumaini. How do people do the things they do?  How could Oddo and I do nothing?

I have been threatened with terrible things should I bring another child into Tumaini, for, “there is no room at the inn”, and we are saving to build our new home.  I have been VERY good this past year, managing to provide emergency aid vis a vis outreach assistance for the most part.  We brought only Nasma to Tumaini, in January of 2013 but only after Mama Korosho offered to support her BUT, what could we have done with Reggie and Goodluck and Alen?

Many, MANY thanks go out to Tine Migerode of Tumaini Belgium and her supporters who have so generously offered to sponsor one of these children but we still need assistance for the other two.  Please, if you can, reach out to help us  . . . Ahsante!

Mama Angela and Glory is NOT well.  She has lost the use of her legs and there is really nothing we can do as the virus in her brain continues to spread.  We visited her today and the girls came home in tears.  How do you prepare two girls who have already buried their father for the loss of their mother?

Happy April birthdays to Anna (26th), Athuman (18th), Esther (23rd), Kelvin (26th), and Wema, , Karol, Martha, and Nasma who celebrate on my birthday (30th) because we are unsure of theirs.  If you would like to send a card/letter, please scan and email it to me to ensure it in fact arrives.

Further thanks go to the Arusha District Community Development Office (Martin Mtanda and Taphari Chalinga) who brought us incredible donations of sugar, rice, soap and cooking oil!  Ahsante Sana!

We are working on the updates for our new website pages and wait for sponsor photos.  I return to my Canadian family and friends on April 28th and look forward to reuniting with and updating many of you on our goings on.  Spring is in the air.  We have our rains here and so anticipate a successful crop year, God willing.  We are healthy and strong and our children work on their studies.  Be well and as always, from a Mama of many, thank you, thank you, thank you, for ALL that you do.