A Message from Mama . . .

I have just returned to Canada after 3 ½ weeks with our watoto (children) in Tanzania and whew were we busy! The lineup to visit was endless not to mention the sleepovers (sorry Steve I was sleeping with other men!!!) where four or five of us got together for a lala because all of our youngsters needed to lala with mama (on my last night we had a seven man and one mama “camp over” in my room)! . . . I think it’s the “crips” (potato chips) we share, I won’t kid myself!!!

Our little ones, for the most part are wonderful!  They work together, help each other and except for the odd blow up are doing their best to make good choices. This is FOR THE MOST PART, but we are experiencing some serious challenges from five of our little ones (Latifa, Connie, Pendo, Neema and Karol) after they were “guided” to disrespect our mamas, teachers and a few select children by dada Wema.  Thought corrected, it has been going on since mid-May and although Wema has since departed Tumaini (she will go to boarding school in September but will spend the August holiday break at her home) quite a bit of damage was done.  The little ones were convinced they need only care about Wema and not pay proper respect to others, including their caregivers and teachers which, for a child in this culture, could be fatal.  Literally, as it would not take much in the form of insult to prompt even a stranger on the street to beat a child severely.

We have struggled since Day I way back in 2009 with corporal punishment which is vehemently denied in most schools but widely practiced everywhere . . . in the school, the home, at work.  (Mary just intercepted a tiny child on the street with an enormous welt on the side of her head being chased by her mother, who, when reprimanded exclaimed, “bring her here!  I am going to chop her into little pieces”!  Why?  Because she had wet the bed in the night.  An underling is an underling and therefore open to any sort of abuse a “superior” deems warranted.  Corporal punishment is used even as a “motivator” in schools if you can imagine.

In any event, Oddo and I have waffled back and forth about the best way to discipline our children without the use of this form of punishment.  Neither of us advocate it but in some, rare circumstances, even I pause to wonder for an alternative.  You see, for some, and only SOME of our children, once the “threat” of corporal punishment is removed, the child “challenges” authority figures and refuses to do what is requested.  Even our little Nasma not only refused to do her classwork, she threw her exercise book (and her sweater) at her teacher!  In any other African environment such behavior would never occur and for Oddo and I, our alternative to a persistent refusal to respect our few rules must result, eventually, in expulsion, which, in some cases is a much worse consequence than even a beating.  I invite comments and suggestions for we simply cannot permit corporal punishment to be an option here at Tumaini.  There IS another way.

Oddo went to Nairobi to pick up Lohai’s visa to return to Canada and he is here now.  Raymond is home waiting for news of HIS visa to go to Australia.  Nelson and I spent several days researching and then applying for university as he received his results from secondary school . . . he is very happy with his performance in a difficult combination (physics, geography and advanced math).  We had hoped for a scholarship to a school outside of Tanzania but it didn’t come together and so now we pray for the University of Dar Es Salaam for his undergraduate degree in Engineering, and then, IF GOD WISHES, a post graduate degree from afar.  Mary Minja traveled to Dar to bring her Babu (grandfather) back to Moshi to visit family and then she is off to spend time with her beau!  (Please do ask her about him!!!)  Reward is working (and struggling) in sales, which is difficult anywhere and nonetheless so here.  “Mama”

Mary H. is caring for not only baby Junior but now little Elisha (read on)!  Anna has finished her studies and practical experience in hairdressing and is home waiting for dada Tine to arrive in two weeks and then she and another Mama are going to set up a salon (saloon in Tanzania!!) and will be open for business!  Karibu! Performances at school are exceptional for most.  I had dinner with all the children of Haradali last week (Lazaro, Angela, Athuman, Paskali, Vitalis and Emmanuel) and they shared that Angela is either 4th or 5th of 108 children, Lazaro is #12, Ema is #15 and Vitalis expects to graduate from primary school in top position.  Oddo is working to get him into Tengeru Boys Secondary School here in Arusha which is one of the top five secondary schools in the country.

Kelvin will miss his graduation here but is not worried because, in case you haven’t heard, he is coming to Canada for secondary school.  He is so excited that he had packed two weeks before we left and he tells me his face hurts from smiling!  I must admit that I am more than a little happy and we thank everyone who has helped facilitate this enormous dream of his. We have some TERRIBLE shillingi (ringworm) and two of our volunteers were plastered with the round, elevated rashes that identify it.  We are working to bring it, once again, under control.

Hello from Marko!

IT IS COLD!  Really cold here and Oddo tells me THIS is the historical Arusha, not the balmy August weather I am used to.  Brrrr! Angela and Glory’s mother has lost her battle with AIDS and on Saturday morning, we went to visit her grave and lay flowers.  We had a sleepover, just us three, on Saturday night and we talked about their loss.  Glory, having lived here most of her young life seems less affected by her mother’s death than Angela who remembers their father’s death also.  Angela is serious and acknowledges that now she must study harder than ever as she has no parents . . . we remind her that she has all of us here at Tumaini and that comforts her BUT . . .

Glory and Angela have a little brother, 3 year old Elisha who lived in a terrible state with a very old father.  After a meeting with our staff and children, we have decided that it would be safer and better that he (and Mama Korosho you will be SO happy to hear this) Junior, will stay with us here at Tumaini. Junior, you may remember, came to us critically ill, and unable to walk despite his almost two years of age, because of an acute protein deficiency.  Junior walks now and has begun to talk and the children are SO incredibly loving towards him, and will be of Elisha, and we simply cannot let Junior return to, nor Elisha to remain in dangerous environments.

When he initially came to us Junior’s hair was red and he had the distinct hard belly distension we so often see on television, side effects of serious malnutrition.  His hair has darkened and is soft, like Liadi’s, and so is his belly, and last week Junior “went to school” which translates into him walking around with a tiny backpack on his shoulder.  The children “give him homework” and all of us love him terribly, soooooooooooooooooo, that is going to mean that we need two more sponsors.  Please consider helping us! Oddo and I will meet with the village chairs, but I fear we are back at the beginning.  The new District Executive Officer is going to reinvolve the third village who absented itself from negotiations in protest and which was accepted by the district office initially, but the two supportive village chairmen work hard to continue our negotiations.  Agggggghhh.  Karibu Tanzania . . .

Bad news.  Most of you who have spent time at Tumaini recognize the recurrence of sickness(es) with Mwanahamisi.  She was home in April with an ugly growth under her tongue which eventually passed and we brought her home again sick, three weeks ago.  Mwanahamisi has tested positive for HIV (she is just 13). Her mother is positive and may have passed the virus to her daughter but  Mwanahamisi left home often and lived on the street before joining us here at Tumaini two years ago and she has run away from her school a couple of times (she is a bit sneaky and often dishonest) so nothing is certain.  Oddo and I met with our local DREAM (HIV) clinic in order to arrange for counseling and to start her on ARVS.  This is a heartbreaking reality and I am really worried for her as she is not a personality who will manage her HIV status very well.

Naomi and Harriri

I am playing “catch up” with my blogs and will be posting regularly this week so stay tuned! There are many thank yous to pass along! First of all to all of you who continue to love and support us at Tumaini, thank you!  We cannot continue without you and are VERY grateful! To the Sunday school class of children at Waterford United Church here in Canada thank you for embracing our children at Tumaini with your prayers, pennies (nickels) and future endeavors to help find us support!

To new sponsors Brea and Chase for embracing the needs of Harriri, thank you SO much!  Your photos and letters were very much appreciated and we have a letter coming back to you! To Ella and Maya and Baba and Mama for your (much delayed in arrival) Christmas letters and gifts to Anna and Martha, thank you!  Unfortunately your gift arrived just after I left last November but they received it and you too can expect a letter shortly with their thanks!

AND MARK THE DATE!  Sunday September 14th is the date for our 3rd annual Scotiabank Tournament of Hope and WE hope you will join us!  Please contact myself, Bonnie Wardell, Lisa Engelhardt-Robinson or Charlene Cleland to register but hurry!  Registrations are filling!! Finally, after much work and waiting we are VERY pleased to announce that Tumaini has just acquired its’ charitable status in the United States!  We will introduce the Board of Directors and administration next week but would like to take a moment to say thank you for further support!

I will be in touch but please know from Mama, and Teacher Oddo in Tanzania, that we are so incredibly grateful for your love and continued!  Talk soon!