To the ends of the earth…and back!

2011 Adventures

Students helping students!

I am always so inspired by students helping other students.

Over the course of my two years expanding the Child Sponsorship Program (CSP), I have come across quite a few students who have shown great interest and enthusiasm in joining us!

Here are three incredible stories:

1. Livonia Middle School students created beautiful posters for the Tumaini classrooms. From animal and plant cells to the human body, numbers and colors (to name but a few!), the posters were amazing. And, mind you, quite a few were in English, Kiswahili and French–the three languages the children learn at Tumaini! Here is a photo of some posters and Head Teacher Allan quizzing some of the younger children!

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2. Several months ago I was asked to speak to a youth group near to my hometown. The teens were thrilled to learn more about our work being done in Tanzania. They were motivated to become involved. I’m so excited to see how they decide to partner with us! Here’s a photo of my delicate self with the student liaison, Kelsey.

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3. Last year, I was contacted by a high school Key Club group near my hometown with the exciting news they wished to sponsor a child’s education! Since that day last December, the students’ commitment and energy has blown me away! Through several Spaghetti Dinners among other smaller fundraising initiatives, the students have raised more than $3,000.00! Additionally, many of them wrote wonderful notes to the child they support–which I delivered during my November visit to Tanzania. Glory was all smiles and more than ecstatic to respond to several of the students’ questions!

Earlier this week I had the privilege to return to MAST and hand deliver Glory’s responses to the students. As I thanked the students for their inspiring commitment, I reminded them that I too had been a Key Club member and president during my time high school. Dream big, kids!! Also, Key Club President Elizabeth and a Keyport Kiwanis member presented me with a check from their latest fundraiser!

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Stay tuned for 2011 Highlights coming in the next few days!!


Happy Graduation!

Last Friday, two celebrations were held: one for the Standard IV graduates and another for the pre-primary level students.

Two of our children, Charles and Rose, completed Standard IV, having sat for the national examination earlier this year. Both were quite excited and were congratulated by their fellow graduates and pupils.

See below for photos of the graduates, along with one of the teachers Madam Christine, and well as Mr. Bayo welcoming the parents to the Standard IV event. Note: initially the festivities were to be held outside but due to the heavy rains(which were still pouring at 9am), the certificate ceremonies were held separately.

I was asked to be a special guest at the Pre-Primary graduation so was lucky enough to hand the little peanuts their completion certificates and shake their hands. It was adorable.

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School is out!!

Yesterday was the last official day of school for the 2011 school term.

The children were ecstatic for a holiday and brief break at Shalom. We walked there this morning, lost in conversation and sharing laughs. The children will have just about a day at Shalom before returning to Tumaini for two weeks of extra tutoring. Then back to Shalom for Christmas.

The children took turns with the camera, snapping photos along the way!

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Driving adventures

Over the past several days, Karatu and other neighboring areas received much rain. Unfortunately there were several fatalities due to the heavy rains.

Some vehicles, one of which was a large truck, was swept away by the flash floods, which picked up as the truck attempted crossing. Crews have been hard at work to fix the bridge which was destroyed by the rains.

As we head to Arusha for the night, Caroline and I passed several of the badly hot areas, some of which still carried remnants of the copious amount of water. Likewise, we drove through mid-covered Tarmac where the water had carried the ground.

In addition to the waters, we had some visits from roadside companions!

Never a dull moment!!

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Baby Got Back

I learned last year that to be told you look “strong” is really just a euphemism for “Baby got back”, “Home girl, you like your food, don’t you?!” or perhaps you’ll even be told you look fat. Forget euphemistic!

Contrary to the NYC life to which I’ve grown accustomed [though haven’t quite embraced, thank you hips] one that is obsessed with thin, thinner and way thin, to have some meat on you here is often considered more beautiful.

Well, yesterday I wore a floor length striped dress that I suppose did the trick, for throughout the day, I received compliments. These comments though, were different from those I’d heard in years past. For example, one friend approached saying, “Where’s your tumbo (“stomach”)? When you were in the US you got thin. In Tanzania you were fat before.”

We both shared a laugh…then I used a choice restroom with the below photo showing…hello

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A picture is worth a thousand words

The children are in the their final few days of school so their teachers have been busy with revisions and final grades. The air of excitement as Friday (school closing day) approaches is evident.

In the afternoons I’ve been able to steal some time with the children and have been meeting with them in smaller groups of four. In addition to chatting with them about the school year, I presented them with photo wallets. Given their love for photos–both taking them and being in them–I thought it to be a fun idea. Also since they don’t have many (if any at all), this would be a nice keepsake. Though I only included photos dating back two years, that didn’t seem to matter as their giggles and squeals of delight echoed in the head teacher’s office.

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Raindrops falling on my head

It’s been raining during the night in Karatu. While I love listening to its rhythms on the tin roof, the walk to and from school proves more challenging. To add to the fun, just realized I didn’t pack my beloved foot brush. Karatu 1, the flower 0. Let the games begin!

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