To the ends of the earth…and back!

A To-Do Scroll

Ellen and I have been so incredibly busy within the past few days scheduling meetings, attending meetings, creating a newsletter, writing endless emails and documents. I am nearly out of breath thinking of all of it!

Since my last entry, I paid off the remainder of the water bill but not without a fight! Ellen and I walked to the Maji (“water” in Kiswahili) building and sat for about 25 minutes. We were greeted by many of the workers as well as the gatekeeper, however we sat and sat inside the office. We helped ourselves to two orange Fanta and chatted until one of the women finally came back to her office. As I walked up to the “Reception” window, I tried in my broken Kiswahili to tell her that I’d like to pay the Shalom bill. I must admit I did a pretty fine job of expressing that. She looked at me and said, “Go to the cashier” pointing to her right, my left. As I chasséd over a few steps to my left, the Cashier window was dark and no one was there.  : D It was priceless! Thankfully within the next few minutes the other woman came in and helped me. Ah the adventures.

New Friends

Last week we also met with the founder of Tumaini (“hope”) Junior School and I almost hugged the man! He and his wife began the school a few years back and they do a stellar job! This past year actually, for the big exam in Karatu, for which 220,000 students sat, 7 of the top 10 scorers attend Tumaini! PLUS they have football (soccer), netball and volleyball teams for which the children can try out. The football team actually made it to regionals this year! Watch out!  Children start as young as 3 years and stay until they’re about 14, right before they enter Secondary School and all courses are taught in English except French and Kiswahili.

I’m in the process of laying out the Child Sponsorship Program and adding up the exact costs for individuals to sponsor our children. Our goal is to have every child enrolled. Ideally, we hope to solidify donors not just for a yearly commitment, but for an educational commitment—meaning that sponsoring wouldn’t be just one year, but for a few—through secondary and beyond should the children decide to attend university. Polepole though. (“slowly” in Kiswahili, i.e. baby steps) If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email us: and we can give you more details. ****EDIT: We are still in the process of determining the costs for our children to attend Tumaini as well as ensure their needs are met, i.e. medical costs, food, extra uniform, etc.****

We also met with FAME Medical Clinic and again, I fell in love! FAME is just about a 25 minute walk up the hill from us and they provide medical care for the local community. It was started by two fantastic Californians just a few years back and they’re in the process of doing some incredible additions to their building, namely an inpatient structure. A few years back the relationship soured a bit due to some miscommunication so Ellen and I were more than ecstatic to reestablish the relationship. So too were Dr. Frank and Susan, his wife. Seriously, love them. Before we left actually, we decided to schedule physicals for each of the 51 children here and Dr. Frank and Susan said the initial consult will be free of charge : D Plus we have an infant here, Diana, who needs her tongue snipped. I forget the exact name of the procedure, but basically the skin under her tongue needs to be snipped, she’s “tongue-tied”. Anyway, there’s a surgeon up there and Dr. Frank is an anesthesiologist by training so the procedure will be super fast and safe! Fabulous. We’re going to schedule this procedure soon too.

In this same meeting, Ellen and I learned the huge benefits of children taking just one multivitamin a day along with having at least one hot meal. A few years back, they checked some children at another orphanage and nearly 80% were malnourished. The Mama there changed the diet by making one meal a hot meal and by adding one multivitamin. Well in just one month of this change, all of the children were healthy as can be! We actually received a donation of some multivitamins a few weeks ago but we are all out now…as we go through them everything at a huge speed with 49 able to take them. (our two youngest are only 7 months each). Thus if you’d like to donate some multivitamins, please do email us for we’d certainly be grateful! We also learned that children need medication every three months for worms.

Lastly, as we were chatting with Dr. Frank, Susan and Caroline (a girl my age who is volunteering up there to help with development—she’s pretty super fab), they invited us to the local wazungu (White people/expat) hang out spot! Relieved, we happily accepted the open invitation and will take them up on the offer within the next few weeks once they’re back from a mobile clinic visit to Lake Eyasi and we have managed to stay abreast of the craziness!

Tomorrow we will meet with our CPAR friend—CPAR is a Canadian medical organization that provides relief too.  So excited! I’ll have more updates next week.

Call me Gene Kelly!

Last week we received our first bit of rain. Tanzania normally has a short rainy season in November but it came a bit early this year, thankfully! In fact, every day since, we have received rain, either at night or during the day. It’s really great because we need so much, very badly. The one downside is that all the dust we previously had is now mud. Hm, I’m still not certain which I prefer: dust-on tan or mud-bath exfoliation!

Hey Mr. DJ, turn the music on…

Ellen and I have started the fantastic tradition of end of the work day Dance Parties! It brings just joy to my heart, I cannot even express it! The children just adore the extra time they have with us and certainly love to shake it. We actually had some of the staff, including Mama Warra AND the two Maasai warriors, show off some of their moves. I’m not even sure pictures could fully do justice to the awesomeness! Their fave artist is Beyoncé, as they constantly go around saying, “All the Single Ladies”. (In fact, last week during the first night, one of the little girls, Agness (she’s arguably the most promising female English-speaking child at Shalom) came up to me and said, “All the single ladies, this song is for you Eliza.” How right she is!) Even some of the boys will go around singing the words, constantly coming up to me saying “kucheza” (“dance” in Kiswahili) or simply they’ll just start to bust some moves with HUGE smiles. Probably my favorite dance move I’ve passed on is the running man. Ellen and I keep vowing to capture the DP’s on video but we keep forgetting. Promise to make this happen soon! Around 6 or 615pm each night, you can feel the excitement in the air as they children know the DP is about to begin.

Nanny 911

So we have begun dealing with the huge undertaking of discipline and behavior. Unfortunately we only have two formal caregivers at the moment. Of course all staff members take turns helping with the children and showing them affection; however it is such a huge job for just two women, and tiring! Within the past few days we have really seen some need for discipline. The children crave attention, which is normal. But unfortunately they also love bad/negative attention (again, normal) which happens when they purposely do not listen and choose to disobey. While ever frustrating, we cannot help but have patience because they have not been taught before about and HELLO they’re orphans and want lots of attention.

A few nights ago, I had some of the older boys help me by leading by example—as the younger boys mirror the behavior of the older ones. The older ones were more than ecstatic to lead and have some responsibility. Positive reinforcement never hurt anyone! I must admit my Kiswahili is still sub-par for explaining the importance of obeying, but the older children help us, as does Isaac with translating. Furthermore, a few nights ago when the kids were their worst, and I do mean, THEIR WORST, we took away the dance party as punishment. It saddened me so much because of the joy it brings to them, but lessons need to be learned.

A Weekend off…

Ellen and I are off to Arusha this weekend for a family wedding—Mama Warra’s family. Don’t worry, I’m not getting married, though it seems many are trying to change that! We will be wearing the beautiful outfits Mama had made for us so I’ll update with a photo next week. Since we’ve been working weekends since we got here, it’ll be a nice break to get out of the dust/mud for a few days. Also, Ellen’s friend Michael lives in Arusha so we can hang around with him a bit and see Arusha. On a selfish note, I’m really looking forward to the Indian Restaurant in Arusha. Now if only we could find a thai restaurant…

Newsletter Coming Soon

We expect to have the Newsletter out within the next week or so as I’m just finishing up the edits. We recently received all of the emails from the email accounts Mama used to use so I’m also sifting through all the messages for contacts who need to receive it…sorry for the delay my friends!

Viona Update

As you know, Viona is our little girl at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam. She has a germ cell tumor for which she is receiving the treatment. She had a blood test on October 18 and just received her second round of chemotherapy treatments this week—Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Likewise, Mama Mdogo, one of our faithful staff members has been staying with her since September. Viona and Mama M will be staying in Dar until February because of the six required treatments for the child. It is pretty crazy accommodations, as each bed in the cancer ward has two children and is flanked by their respective caregivers. No extra rooms are available for the caregivers so often, the beds are for four people to sleep…

Ellen has visited Viona twice and we both will be going around November 16 or 17. Whilst there we’ll spend some quality time with them and give Mama Mdogo a break, both emotionally and physically.


2 responses

  1. Barb Mueller

    Elizabeth, thank you so much for the up- dates. I love to read about your life there and will try to remember some of the Swahili words! Would you like us to bring stickers to help reward good behavior?

    22/10/2009 at 19:07

  2. Susan Martin

    You’re so awesome! I hope you already know you can count me in as a sponser! So glad to hear you met with Dr. Frank. It was just bad communication keeping two great organizations apart.

    24/10/2009 at 17:34

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