Sometimes we need to take a moment to pause and reflect on why we do the things we do . . . we need to “remember the reason”. I am full of doing just that these days. Why did I travel to Tanzania six years ago and begin, with who would become my Tz. brother (Oddo) helping twenty four children, who, for various reasons were in dire, even critical need of care and attention? What was the vision, the lonnnnnng term objective?
To be honest, we didn’t start with a clear, long term picture . . . the need was everywhere and so obvious that Oddo and I just “dug in” and got to work finding food, shelter, medical care, school fees, (did I say school fees?) and stability for some pretty desperate little ones. We were so busy (and still are), much of time that the day to day kept us hopping and many, MANY of the early steps were taken “on faith” that our needs would be met and we’d be in a position to continue to care for our family.
Fast forward six years . . . Tumaini has grown to more than one hundred if we include our outreach families . . . most of our initial twenty four children are still with us, growing, learning, and most important, (because they know they will eat every day and be provided loving care should they get sick and because they attend GOOD schools) they are confidently living their lives and building their futures. All this because Tumaini has given them the security and stability needed to enable them to dream! Raymond has a remarkable story about learning to dream . . .
Some kids are amazing! They REMEMBER from where they have come. They REMEMBER their previous struggles and they appreciate the safety and security they live in now. They are grateful for (most of) the hundreds of volunteers who have come to Tumaini (and in some cases returned to Tumaini), bringing their own gifts and skills to contribute what they can to our children.
Some of our kids . . . well, some have made choices which have precipitated their departures, some have “graduated”, both literally (Mary, Reward and now Raymond) and moved on into their “adult” lives (Mary is getting married and beginning her family, Reward has started a safari business and Raymond has made the decision to return to Tumaini and help Oddo and I) and figuratively, (Anna and Gaspar) who have taken independent steps towards the futures they have chosen. Some of our kids SHINE academically and some continue to struggle (and some always will), but, in a very big way most of our family is progressing in a positive direction, particularly this year, and there are special thanks due . . .
I left Tumaini in March after three months with the children. After three months where our Tumaini systems had run efficiently and effectively and our children knew their roles and responsibilities and lived by them! Tumaini’s beautiful dada Tine (a daughter from another mother) stayed at Tumaini until my return in June and day after day after day after day she supported, maintained and even implemented a few improved systems which allowed our children uninterrupted, unchanging, and continuous support! When I returned in June it was to, FOR THE FIRST TIME in six years find our kids more stable, living with more structure and happier than I ever have seen them! There was no “month or so” of “readjustment”! There was no time lost in catching up to where we had been before!
Raymond is at Tumaini now continuing our practices. He reports almost daily on the children and how, for the most part, they each continue to thrive!
We do, of course, have struggles. We continue to struggle with Glory for example and Liadi struggles sometimes I am told, in my absence, but, for the most part, our, YOUR kids are SHINING! I thank God (and Oddo, and Tine and now Raymond, and of course our staff) EVERY DAY for this! Now, none of this is accomplished in a vacuum. Even people as remarkable as our Tumaini team cannot manage the lives, homes, medical and educational needs of more than sixty kids without help!
We have had extraordinary support from our volunteers, many of whom are “repeaters”. Minke (sponsor for Mulki and Busaina) is on a return visit right now with “newbie” Kim – – – Rebecca (sponsor for Gerehad and behind the scenes administrator for Tumaini Australia) with her other half Mike – – – Sophie has returned to Tumaini and just took the children to an adventure park for a day of fun and her sister will join her for a couple of days! Each of these people (like Meghan who just returned to Canada after invaluably assisting our secondary school students in daily tuition while they were on break) brings their own gifts and skills to the children of Tumaini and we are so very grateful!
And although Canada is the mother of Tumaini as its founder, our children are blessed with “brother and sister” organizations which were established by former volunteers who saw our need, returned to their homes after their time with us at Tumaini and began looking for ways to help us help our kids . . . Holland (Kris and then father Wil) and Belgium (Tine, family and friends), the U.S. (Pam and then friends) and Australia (Michael, quickly followed by mother Rebecca) are organizations committed to helping find solutions to the endless need in Tanzania, and in many cases to helping in the direct support of our Tumaini children and there are no words to express our (Oddo’s and my) gratitude for this help!
Tumaini is a TINY charity in the grand scheme of charities BUT, and this is a biggie – more than 90% of every dollar earned goes DIRECTLY to the care of our kids! I do not take a salary for managing Tumaini, nor does any of our Board of Directors! Neither do any of the incredible people VOLUNTEERING with our brother and sister organizations! We GIVE of our time, energy, and yes, money, so that we can ensure our/your Tumaini kids receive as much assistance as we can possibly give them and we have some pretty incredible news to share (Oddo and I pause to reflect back on that dream six years ago) BUT, for that . . . you will have to WAIT!
I thank each of you for loving us at Tumaini! I thank our volunteers, past, present (I am working on our Christmas scheduling) and future, for your contributions large and small! Good, good, GOOD things are happening at Tumaini these days . . . Oddo would like to credit MOTHER MARY who made a grand safari from China, through the United States to Canada, then through Amsterdam to her new and permanent home in Usa River Tanzania but you will need to wait for THAT story also! We send love and prayers for health and happiness!
Two things in closing: Oddo is from Songea in southern Tanzania as are Connie, Martha, Anna, Gerehad and small Daniel. The village needs (desperately) an optical microscope to test for the presence of the malarial parasite. Just before my return in July a villager died as a result of mis/non diagnosis of malaria. And secondly, should you find yourself in the neighborhood of southern Ontario on September 13th, please consider joining us for our 4th annual Scotiabank sponsored Tournament of Hope. We are still looking for donations for our prize table also!