On the 12th day before Xmas . . .

On the 12th day before Christmas there was a beautiful young lady from Luxembourg named Mara Flammang.  She had visited Tumaini as a volunteer in 2012 and fallen in love with the children . . . their happiness, their hearts.  Mara returned home after her time with her new African “family” and carried on with her life, never forgetting her Tumaini experience in Tanzania. Now Mara had a family . . . Big brother Max, mom Sylvie, and a very loving father named Mett who, in her own words, “was a great man with a big heart”.  Mett worked at the civil registry office in Dudelange and his job allowed him to share beautiful moments in life with others . . . things like births and marriages. On the other side, he had to register losses in the deaths of others and he was well liked for his sympathetic character.

In his private life, Mett Flammang loved nature and sports.  He was a passionate hunter and taught Mara and her brother much about animals and the forest.  Mara’s dad Mett experienced a hearing loss which ended hunting for him but he continued to spend a great deal of time in nature.  His favorite place, besides home with his family, became Andermatt, a small village in the Swiss Alps.  There he enjoyed skiing and going on long walks with his Swiss dog “Sepp” in summer.

Mett also enjoyed sports, especially cycling.  He followed most of the season on television but Whenever he had the chance, he went to see the races live on the street with his best friends.  His favorites were the Tour de France and the Tour de Suisse. Recently, Mett became ill and required an organ transfer in order to regain his health which, sadly, did not arrive in time and Mara, Max and Sylvie lost their beloved father and husband on June 22nd of this year at the age of 62.

In celebration of his life well lived, and in support of Tumaini, Mara and her family decided to organize a memorial fund benefiting us, in lieu of flowers at Mett’s funeral and although most of our children cannot appreciate the impact of this gift, they do, unfortunately know loss and their hearts, and that of Oddo and myself reach out to Mara, Max, Sylvie and friends and family, in consolation, love and heartfelt thanks for including us in Mett’s memory.  A small memorial is being constructed and Mett’s heart and goodness will not be forgotten . . . not by his precious family and friends, nor by us at Tumaini.  To Mara, Max and Sylvie, we reach out to you to help you remember that your precious father and husband is celebrated by all of us at Tumaini . . . Asante.

On the 11th day before Christmas there was a young man named Omari.  Omari is an extraordinary young man because despite lacking ANY sort of parental support, (he lived with his sister, a day laborer and her young daughter and infant son), without electricity in his home (it gets dark at seven o’clock year round in Tanzania), unable to dedicate daylight hours to his studies for his need to work to find food, this young man graduated (miraculously) from primary school (an incredibly weak government school near our village of Usa River), with two As and five Bs!  UNHEARD OF!

Oddo and I met Omari through his headmaster who demanded we find a way to help this boy get to secondary school.  (Not a chance for him as his sister, who was JUST scraping by, suddenly found herself with an infant seriously ill with a heart condition!)

It was painfully clear to all of us, (sadly, frequently so in my experience), that Omari would NEVER attend secondary school, despite his obvious abilities and desire to do so without our intervention.  We met with the District Education Officer (a wonderfully dedicated woman named Mrs. Mchome, who, coincidentally, knew of Omari but could not find the money to fund his school fees.  WE at Tumaini managed that side of the equation and Mrs. Mchome got him into a VERY strong (maths and sciences) secondary school.  Omari, in the past two years has taken care of the rest!

This young man consistently gifts me with exam results in the 80s and 90s which is truly incredible.  He is a serious young man, possessed of a slight stutter, very slow to smile and painfully shy, but, when he does allow himself a moment (especially if I find him a bit of chocolate), or, in celebration of consistently amazing performance, his smile breaks and his whole face lights up! If you ask him, Omari will (with a little prodding) share that his dream is to become a pilot.  That means engineering . . . if you are patient and ask the right questions, he will explain that, “no one believes that a Tanzanian could ever become a pilot . . . I want to show people that we CAN.  We can be anything we want”.

We have scrounged together the funding to keep Omari in school these past two years, to clothe and house and feed him when he is not at school and to provide him with the basic needs required for his studies . . . HOWEVER!  If we could just find a sponsor, someone willing to help us support him, someone(s) to sponsor the balance of his secondary education (four years) and then university, then, this young man may just realize his dream!  He has and continues to do HIS part!  (Annual funding required to complete secondary school and provide personal support – $1,120.00)

On the 10th day before Christmas we caught up with some incredible Tumaini supporters . . . lonnnng standing Tumaini family members who have been with us from the beginning and a couple (Joan and Gerry) who were helping with Tumaini before there WAS a Tumaini . . . to Aunt Mayre, and Jenna, and Erica and family.  To Oma, and Alisha, and Isabelle and Tom and Christine.  To Auntie Pam and Uncle Randy and Dianne, and Robyn and Mom and Dad!  Whoa!  For Mariel and Tom and Diane and Robin, and Mary and Vincent.  To Bibi Margaret and Dave and Lisa, Ralph and Brendalee.  To Blair and Helen and Dr. Bruce, and Michael, and Deacon John and Father D., and Kathy, Brenda, Bonnie and grandkids.  HOW, do we say thank you for YEARS of support?  There are no words, so, as we VERY often say in Tanzania, “only God can repay you all that we owe . . .