To the ends of the earth…and back!

I get by with a little help from my friends…

School’s Out!

When I arrived at Tumaini on Friday 26 November, the last day of school for 2010, the excitement was palpable. I had to finish up some last minute murals so spent most of my time outside the Standard II classrooms, working on the walls. At almost regular intervals of 20-30 minutes, I was approproached by children from various classes and presented with goodies they had shared with the classmates. Each grade was having a class party to celebrate all the hard work of 2010. From lollipops to biscuits, the children would come close to me, almost in a whisper, with huge grins on their face. I could barely hear “Eliza” or “Madame” as they opened their hands or took the goodies out of their pockets.

Once classes were out for the day, many of the boarding students came and joined me in painting the murals. Likewise, some were enlisted to help me and Teacher Jimmy to create signs for the school grounds–such as “Parking” “Head Teacher’s Office” etc. The older children were more bold in painting and were not as shy in expressing their desires to paint. The younger ones seemed more excited to hold the paint brush and dip it into the paint tins. Regardless, I was so appreciative for the help and was successul in having some teacher by my side too! Here are some photos of the murals…

While the children were more carefree than on the other days which were filled with examinations and studying, the teachers continued to work hard to make sure all books would be marked and report cards completed. I was constantly in awe of the dedication of not only the teaching staff, but the groundsman, the chefs, the mamas/matrons who help do the laundry and care for the boarding students and of course the other school administators. I have never seen such dedication and was always motivated by watching these fantastic people.

Celebrate Goods C’mon!

On 27 November, Tumaini celebrated the end of the school year with a Parents Day Celebration. Each class presented a song, dance, poem, skit and/or short presentation for their parents/guardians and other special guests. A student choir, the French Club and the scouts also gave spectacular performances. Additionally, there were certificates of merit and other items like footballs presented to well-deserving students.
 
The children did wonderfully well and the teachers and guests alike were pleased and impressed!
 
Towards to end of the certificate/diploma presentations, I was honored to receive a certificate of appreciation as well as a giant (and especially beautiful) batik, presented by Mr. Bayo and his wife and some of the other school administrators.

 Standard IV graduate–shaking hand of Mr. Bayo, School Director

Young class performing poem “Hands and Feet” (note, originally was song I taught them, but poem worked better for the presentation. Upload of children singing the song while I play guitar coming soon!Baby class marching in to begin song and dance!

Older children Stndard IV graduated–soon to be Standard V 2011 pupils. Note, we have five pupils in this grade.

  

  

Football teamPre-Primary pupils who have graudated and will enter Standard I in 2011.

Pen Pals
As you know, I helped to propel the Pen Pal Program at Tumaini. We received word from one of the schools and a church in the US, confirming they had received the letters and photos of the children. As my days came to an end, I continued to benefit from the Pen Pal program, for on several occasions, children approproached me with letters they’d written for me. Most included beautiful pictures and brief little poems, along with the words of love they wished to express.
 
Additional Enrollments
Roughly two weeks before my scheduled departure, I was fortunate enough to meet a safari guide who sends his two boys to Tumaini. He arrived at the school to chat with Mr. Bayo and me, for he had brought some Australian women on safari who had visited Shalom and were interested in sponsorship. Much like myself, they were instantly compelled to help the Shalom children. To my delight, that morning in Mr. Bayo’s office, I chatted with the women and briefed them on the CSP, costs, details, etc. I had just enrolled two other children, bringing us to a whopping TEN!!, and they expressed interested in sponsoring another six! Needless to say, once the phone call had ended, I had scheduled another meeting with Shalom, placement testing for the children at Tumaini, and mentally prepared myself for the final weeks of adventure!
 
On two separate days, we tested students in Standards IV and III–the next elligible ages for enrollment. From a pool of about thirteen, we selected the six with the highest scores in English, Kiswahili, Math and Science. As is always the case, the English is the most difficult aspect for the children, for the local government school where they are currently enrolled has all classes taught in Kiswahili. Nevertheless, the children scored very high and even those who did not have the marks to be enrolled this year were very encouraged and ever more determined to study hard in 2011 so they might too have a chance to study at Tumaini in 2012.
 
Much like the final few days of my trip last year, during which time I ran around purchasing boarding items, having children fitted for school uniforms and depositing school fees into the bank, the last two weeks this year were just as busy! If only there was a Costco or other equivalent place to buy boarding items in bulk for 16 children! Thankfully my command of Kiswahili is much better than it was last year so I’m able to (almost) seamlessly navigate the markets and negotiate prices. (Note, it’s normally higher for me as I’m a mzungu, though after this four month stint, local shop owners are aware of my work and have given me more of the local prices). Likewise, I’m ever grateful for the help of friends, especially Ali, Bridgette, Caroline, Jonathan and Malicky, without whose help the work could not have been finished. From recommendation of places to buy items in bulk, to transporting my delicate self and a car load of items for the 16, to just supportive words of encouragement when I became overwhelmed, these special people are super fab!
 
Anyway, a bunch of trips back and forth to the markets in both Karatu and Arusha, and the extra bedroom in my friend’s house was jam packed with boarding items for the Tumaini 16. Likewise, the children and I were able to finish introduction and thank you letters for sponsors. (check back for photos from this) Needless to say, when I boarded to Dar Express bus, for the last trip to Dar of 2010, the 12 hour drive did not seem so bad, and indeed I had a lighter step, having known that eight more children are headed towards a brighter future.
 
Stay tuned for additional updates in the coming days, including more info on the newest enrollments!!!  In the meantime, here are photos of the newest tumaini 8…
1. Pendo
2 and 3 Naomi & Frenk
4.Anna
5.Aurelia
6.Baraka
7.George
8.Japhet

Thank you for your continued support!

p.s. Thanks especially to those who donated to JOS during the month of November, as part of celebrating my 26th Birthday. We raised over $1,000.00!!!!

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