January 19th from Mama . . .


I am getting settled back into life here at Tumaini after some adjustment with the time change (8 hours) and weather.  We, (Mama Korosho and I) left -20 degrees and woke up to +30, no water, VERY sporadic electricity and an “iffy” internet and phone network, but . . . Karibu Tanzania!

The children are wonderful and getting settled into their new school years but what a week it’s been! Let me start with the bad news that Oddo’s email and Facebook accounts have been compromised and someone impersonating him is asking people for money.  Please do not respond . . .

We have seventeen new fourth graders attending Amani Primary School and that experience has been, well, an experience.  On DAY TWO, a math teacher (Nikko), beat virtually an entire class of our little guys for not leaving the class quickly enough to receive their porridge (they haven’t got the system down yet) and the next day, little Anna was beaten so severely for something she didn’t even do, that she couldn’t bend her hands until the next day.  THAT beating was thanks to a “teacher” Isaac, who has a reputation for enjoying beating little people.

It sickened Oddo and I, who had hoped to partner with this school, but unless something changes quickly (we had a meeting with the General Manager/Owner who assures us he will take positive action immediately), we are going to have to remove them.  How can a child learn when they sit in terror?

On a (for the most part) happier note, (and Izzy you will FLIP over the news) we have results from Form II (10th grade) national exams.  Unfortunately, Bruno has dropped out of school and gone with his brother to work.  Abdi, Anna and Issa passed, but only just and have been warned that things MUST improve, and Allison I am sorry but the same is to be said for Marko, who has really let us down . . .  but Joseph! Izzy, Joseph!!!  Joseph was 9th out of a class of 189 children with two A’s, five B+, a B and only one C and he received the status of “Distinction”!  This is a boy (the only member of his family to EVER attend secondary school), studying maths and sciences and Izzy, (originally a volunteer but now a dada of Tumaini) worked very hard to help these boys GET into Kisimiri Secondary School!  Mzamiru, completed his first term and will finish secondary school in June.

Our own Francis was made Head Boy or Prefect at school and we can only say congratulations and Omari left yesterday to return to classes after sharing past exams ranging from the high sixties into the high eighties.  A VERY serious student! And speaking of Omari . . . two nights ago he was heading home (in the dark) from Tumaini when he met a young teen girl crying in the street.  After enquiring, he learned that Fadhilla (her name), from Singida (let’s just say, FAR) had travelled all the way to Arusha to beg for school fees.  She has been orphaned and lives with her bibi (grandmother) and the two of them collect firewood and charcoal remnants and sell them in order to eat.  She passed her Standard Seven national exam but there is no money for fees and she collected enough for bus fare to get her out of her small village and here “to the big city”, where she believed her prospects to be better.  Thank God Omari found her and not someone with less honorable intentions.  He took her to his sister’s house/room where she slept the night and then he brought her to us.  A police report was completed and she is staying here until Oddo finishes doing HIS stuff!

Oddo, (despite being computer hacked), has worked his magic (he may know EVERYONE, not just everyone) and located the regional education officer in Singida who is locating a school for Fadhilla to attend.  We will require school fees for her also (approximately 1,000,000 shillings or about 700.00.)

And do you remember last April(ish) when Oddo and I took a wheelchair up Mount Meru to a housebound bibi who has lost the use of her legs and met a VERY SMART YOUNG MAN named Godlove?  Well . . . he too, begins Form I this week and he too requires our help . . . again in the approximate amount of 1,000,000 shillings.  Godlove is another Nelson, or Francis or Joseph or Rose who JUST WORK HARD . . . and efficiently . . . and who have performed to extraordinary levels and we simply MUST find a way to help them along . . .

Vitalis has completed his Pre-Form One Classes (#2 in his class of 101 students with TEN As and two B+ and is knuckling down to classes at St. Joachim Boys Secondary School, with the full financial support of Babu Cal.  (Thank you Babu). And Rose . . . Rose Samwenda is a scholarship recipient we initially began providing school assistance for in 2011.  Rose attended school here in Usa River for her “O” levels and earned a desk at Shule Kaliua in Tabora District.

In advanced level studies (Forms V and VI) a student takes a General Studies course and then concentrates on their own specific combination of three courses.  For Rosie, that is PCM or Physics (C), Chemistry (B+), and Advanced Math (B) and holds the distinction of being the highest performing girl in her class, surpassed only by four male students who notched her out of top position!  We could NOT be more proud of these efforts!

Mwanahamisi, I am afraid, will not be returning to Haradali.  You may remember it was discovered she has HIV last year and instead of heeding the counselling she was given at our DREAM (AIDS) clinic, she chose to torment her fellow students with threats of infecting them and was advised that boarding school would no longer be an option.  She was staying with her sister who, after becoming frustrated with her behavior has rescinded that opportunity also . . . she will be returning to her mother in a remote village and attend a weak government school.  It is so very sad to watch some of our children throw their chances away . . .

And about our little ones?  Well, after a serious division of loyalties here spearheaded by Wema and involving several of our younger girls, I am so very relieved to see them smiling, happy and optimistic in their studies again.  Wema had convinced some of them to grieve lost family they couldn’t even remember!  It was ugly for several months and many of us worked hard to diffuse things.  Our little ladies are playing and studying and growing up and about Angela and Glory (and little Elisha) whose mother died of AIDS last year?  Each is adjusting to their loss very positively . . . I haven’t seen Glory affecting positive decisions and behaviors . . . well, perhaps never.  She grieves her mom but is beginning to accept that the illness had taken her long before she died (she had developed brain tumors which deteriorated her memory, ability to speak and walk and both Angela AND Glory are ecstatic to have their little brother Elisha here, BUT, not nearly as happy as we are to have him.

Elisha’s and Junior’s daily care is still an issue for we had anticipated that Mary would be better able to cope with the management of their care but she is not and so we are looking for a new, special “mama”, to love and tend to them . . . and WOW, are they a joy! Junior, whom, you may remember just began walking in May, is non-stop, motion, showmanship, charm and a bit, but only a bit of a temper.  He has not entirely adjusted to having “competition” in the neighborhood but he is learning . . . AND, although we still struggle a bit (Elisha had an accident this morning) Elisha has graduated potty training and Junior, I expect is right behind!

Elisha is a quiet little cuddler (he reminds me VERY much of Harriri in his temperament and behaviors) and Junior is a showoff . . . dancing, finger waving, giggling . . . they are both beautiful gifts to us at Tumaini and they are talking up a storm!  Elisha is more advanced, but Junior just today, was learning to count in my office . . . he likes to say, “twooooooo”, with a full pucker so sometimes we don’t get to THREE!

Baba Kaka and Jenny are here, and they, (who have been away for two years) and I notice such positive change in the children . . . they are kinder, gentler and more respectful of each other . . . (don’t think we delude ourselves).  They are easier to study (most of them) and sometimes even keep their things together although Baba Kaka almost lost his mind when he was on “shoe retrieval and reconciliation” duty and if someone asks Mama Korosho for another thing, just fifteen seconds after she’s closed the containers for the umpteenth time . . . well, let’s just say it could get hotter outside!

We are so well here at Tumaini and THAT has so very much to do with you and your continued love and support.  Stay tuned because we’ve got some great updates forthcoming but please know how grateful we are . . .To the Avondale United Church in Tillsonburg for finding the money for Esther for another year, and to Townsend Mutual Insurance for donating their “dress down” day money to our kids (Asante Bobi-Jo for suggesting us).  To Wil who is working SO hard to get us a desperately needed vehicle and the Stratford family for their incredible kindness both via donation and support to help the ebola struggle . . . to Gordian Global Marketing for their

Donation of multi-vitamins AND some other goodies for our family here . . .to all of you who braved the (much less than last year’s life threatening) weather and came out to help us at the booth and to Simcoe Rotary who is spearheading a long term project and hopeful affiliate clubs in The Netherlands, and U.S. (so far) to HELP US BUILD OUR SCHOOL AND PERMANENT HOME!

I was so very fortunate to spend Christmas at home with my Canadian/Tanzanian family and friends, and was able this year, to witness the many blessings YOU gifted us throughout the holiday season.  It has been incredibly heartwarming and inspiring as we begin 2015, and so, in closing, if I may end our Christmas story of last year with, “on the day of Christmas our Tumaini family enjoyed an outing with dadas Erica and Holly and then an enormous Christmas celebration on the 26th (Lohai’s birthday).  Love and warmth (and some gifts from Holly’s family in the U.S. were shared.

Children who have extended family within visiting range did just that . . . visited!  New Year’s was celebrated and shortly after Mama Korosho and I arrived to a heart(y) welcome (think chalk art with love messages from thirty five kids), and a mass of “whisper” squealing boys lunging through the front door of Tumaini house at me as I passed on the way to my room . . . hugs and giggles and kisses and cuddles and good health and warmth and much happiness shared and THAT, my friends is because YOU love US, sooooooo, as we delve into 2015, may I humbly share, that from Oddo and I, and of course our munchkins, it is our heartfelt prayer that this year, each of you will enjoy the VERY same sense of being loved, appreciated, missed and needed that I did on yet another late night arrival here at Tumaini.  I marvel every time at how my next greeting might surpass the last, and yet, with so many little hearts full of sooo much love just bursting forth, they find a way to do it . . . every single time! Come, and see for yourself and Happy New Year!