Panorama, St. Patty’s School, Successes, Sickness & September!
I’m home, after three months with our children and have much to share! To begin, ENORMOUS thanks to everyone who supported us throughout the month of December at our Simcoe Panorama of Lights cider and donut booth. This is a BIG fundraiser for Tumaini, 2018 was our most successful yet, and the proceeds are available to us at a critical time of the year so Ahsenteni sana!!! (Thank you VERY much!!)
NEW YEAR . . . NEW SCHOOL . . .
In January our primary graduates entered Nshupu Secondary ( , in our village, instead of to different private schools. We made this difficult decision decision for various reasons and to be honest, it has been a challenging start. The school is headed by a brilliant headmistress who was instrumental in improving another government school to become number one in the country. She is supported by some incredibly talented administrative staff and there are some brilliant teachers . . . but (Yup! There it is!) We struggle first of all with a few stick-happy teachers (yes, corporal punishment is still practiced and one teacher actually complained about how tired her arm gets when she beats a child). And yes, our children have suffered but we continue to struggle and try to educate, and provide alternatives to using a stick. Another BIG problem in this school is the effects of poverty (it is in every government school). Our children brought with them strong foundational backgrounds AND English (thank you supporters) . . . about 80 of the 231 registered Form I students don’t have any English background, and thus have entered a school whose language they cannot understand. We have just over 500 students at Nshupu and students and many teachers work hard to overcome this hurdle, but we need support from parents, government, teachers and of course students. Already Tumaini (with YOUR dollars!!!) has renovated 5 classrooms, purchased a copier and a printer, provided a number of computers, purchased texts and teaching aids, supplement the salaries for 4 new math/science teachers, provided VERY strong financial motivations to those teachers whose classroom performance improves WITHOUT the use of a stick . . . and perhaps MOST importantly, returned dignity to our students by renovating and providing water to their toilets and don’t forget (commenced in 2018) the ongoing and incredibly successful library project spearheaded by Mama Pam Burrows, and our girls’ hostel which has been FUNDAMENTAL in improving academic performance! (I happened to be at school when the national examination results were released and the teachers went crazy in celebration over the academic improvement of their students.) This combination of supports has returned hope and determination to those amazing teachers and has positively impacted many, MANY of the students!!
This last trip was another special one for a number of reasons and six of them are right here!
Francis, Angel & Neema wrote their Form II national exams last fall and we waited for results . . . Division I.7 for Francis and Angel (the absolute best a student can achieve) and, despite struggling through her studies with excruciating pain caused by lymphedema, Neema earned Division I.8! Incredible!
Rose graduated from teachers college and with some help from Oddo, landed her very first teaching job and SHE’S GOOD! Strong in math & science she is invaluable as a teacher in a country where only 4% of children finish secondary school. We are changing that!!
Omari and Godlove performed extraordinarily also. Godlove, on his Form IV national exams earned Division I and awaits Form V in June. Our district commissioner Jerry Muro heard about him (okay I ratted) and has promised, from his OWN pocket, school supplies for Forms V and VI and if things continue in such a positive direction, a computer for university, and Omari, I don’t even know where to begin with him . . . I had a chance for a visit when I was in Dar. He is studying at the National Institute of Transport and hopes to become a pilot!
SO VERY DISAPPOINTING . . .
Our 3rd, and possibly last container arrived from Canada and to say we were disappointed would be an understatement. With so much corruption in Tanzania the government has clamped down on imports and everyone, even the good guys, are being painted with the same tainted brush. This is how we found our container after “inspection” by customs authorities. We had a surprise TZS 20,000,00 plus surprise to deal with as it seems N.G.O.s no longer have any sort of exemption . . . the most surprising things grew legs and “walked away”, and a brand new battery and brand new underwear was “confiscated” (the battery “for testing”) but everything, we are told, will be “destroyed” in their various processes. . . but the good news is that there were bikes to go around!! Thank you, thank you!
PRAYERS . . .
For Neema who continues to struggle with lymphedema, causing excruciating pain in her foot.
For Said (top right), and Vitalis who continue to struggle with ulcers and for Connie (bottom right) who is currently being treated for appendicitis.
Our thanks again to Melanie Dykstra and friends for supporting Esther. She continues to heal from her surgery and her pain is now controllable.
And Ishmael, our little paralyzed guy, just got casts put on both legs in an effort to better position his feet!!
AND DID YOU KNOW?
That there may or may not have been some shenanigans going on at our St. Paddy’s Primer last weekend?
Enormous thanks to The Felicia McMinn Band who, as always, ROCKED, to outstanding D.J. Josh of Blackcreek D.J Services, to each and every attendee who enjoyed a wonderful “green” (and not in the environmental way) evening, to all the volunteers who keep coming out to keep helping our kids and a special thank you to our fearless GREEN leader, Bobbie Jo Griffin for leading the way . . . 2019 was our BESTEST primer EVER!!! Next year’s event? March 7th!!
One of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in recent years was speaking with the young women in the hostel at Nshupu. Shared with matron (who only looks for the positive), and a brilliant teacher who demanded that the girls, when approached by “street boys” looking for a little something, to respond with the declaration, “you can’t afford me! I am too precious, too valuable to waste my chances on you!” I LOVED it! We discussed other challenges. These girls eat the same food every . . . single . . . day . . . and Tumaini struggles for the money to even provide this food. Please, I encourage you to support these girls if possible.
This is a shout out to teachers: please don’t discourage even your brightest students from pursuing studies in the sciences “because science isn’t a subject for the poor” . . . or the “stressed”. I run into this all the time in schools and it devastates a student working as hard as they can to realize the only dream of a future they possess.
There is incredible determination in many students I meet. Battling incredible odds, they persevere, they search for support, they study in whatever means they can (think a secondary school with NO math teacher), and then, as they approach the end of their secondary educations, and begin to look down the road to furthering themselves, (A level, university, college), often they are slapped in the face with a painfully hopeless reality. It is our job at Tumaini to ensure these children have a fighting chance.
I will leave for Tumaini on June 2nd and I encourage letters, photos, etc. from sponsors. We have had an incredible few months at Tumaini and this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for even more excitement coming down the pike!!
And finally, this is what 500 students in debate looks like, AND, after competing against a neighbouring school – and winning – we took the team to the movies in Arusha . . . (many for the very-first-time-in-their-lives!!!)