Notes from Mama and Happy Birthday Cindy!

Well, like you, the tree has come down and the decorations stowed away until next year albeit for us, this was our first Christmas . . . too much food was eaten and we enjoyed many celebrations, two safaris, a second Christmas in Ndoombo . . . today though is quiet, despite the fact the children are home – a public holiday celebrating the unification of Tanganyika and Zanzibar now called Tanzania.  We slept later than usual, (all but Lohai who still rises with the chickens) and when the rain came (and when it does, it DOES), we practiced our new song, “The Ants go Marching”.  I’ll try to forward a video.  The children are hilarious mimicking my antics while parading around the compound. Amina visited us yesterday.  You remember 28 year old Mama Anjela and Glory, the mama I feared would have died months ago?  Well she is one tough young lady.  She shakes still but is so happy to have regained control of her body and she now knows who each of us is.  She walked here and let me assure you it is quite a trek from her home in the village to us here.
I have been too, too busy with paperwork and paying school fees and scrambling for last minute items for back to school but when I pause, working at my desk which looks out to the main house, I watch the children riding the bicycles we brought from home.  They have learned to ride this year and it brings me such joy to know that we made it possible.  Space is tight here and we hope to have a larger home one day soon and yes the children are forced to go round and round the house when they ride, but, well, they might have no bicycle, nor paved surface to ride upon, hmmmm and so I relish watching them double each other and squabble over whose turn it is . . .
The weather is mixed . . . sometimes very hot, high 30’s and sunny and we all race for the sunscreen, but some days, many days, it rains as it did today, and the locals worry that these extended short rains will impact the desperately needed long rains due in March.
Happy birthday to Cindy!  Mama Picha (picture) struggles with the food here and her birthday request was for bahgas (burgers) and so we just had to deliver!  It was our first effort and we need to make some adjustments, but all in all they were quite tasty, washed down of course with soda and followed with cake and ice cream!  Birthdays are a new and special event here. . .
We welcome Alison Murphy back to Tumaini House for her second visit . . . Alison is planning to teach at Amani Primary School where our older boys attend Standard 4, 5 and 6. Latifa is struggling with tonsillitis, Mary had to write an entrance exam for Makumira Secondary School and was accepted.  We were very concerned about placing Mary in a boarding school because her health is still delicate but the matron at school assured us that Mary will live in a special hostel for children who behave exceptionally well (as she does) and that her diet (of makande – beans and maize, and ugali and beans) will be supplemented with juice, eggs, milk and other fruits to ensure that she stays healthy.  The school is less than ten minutes from home and so we can fetch her if ever there is a need.  She was anxious and cried on the morning of her exam but is very happy to be attending a good school and big brother Raymond is there as a prefect, to watch over her and the other Tumaini children, Deo, Anna, Dula, and soon to be joined by brother Robinson and sister Redigunda.
Speaking of Raymond, he left us today to return to school himself and for me it was an emotional moment.  Raymond is one of the most special young people I have ever met.  He is kind and gentle and always generous with a joke and a smile.  He works tirelessly here at Tumaini, alongside Lohai, running errands, assisting with homework and is my regular translator.  He counsels the children in manners and uses gentle discipline to guide them and is not afraid to approach me with an issue over which he has a concern.  He always has the very best interests of our Tumaini family at heart and although I am happy to see him return to begin his final year of secondary school, I am always so very sad to see him go and couldn’t escort him with Amanda and Katy back to school.  Raymond is a shining example of what we pray for as we raise our own children and I love him very much . . . just too much moisture for this mama.
Christina was rushed to hospital yesterday after vomiting . . . she was complaining of a headache, was lethargic and then began vomiting.  In her case, having hydrocephalus, such symptoms are serious and could indicate a blockage in her shunt . . . but, after racing to KCMC in Moshi the doctor confirmed that she is fine and that we need only worry if she “projectile” vomits, an indication that the shunt is not functioning and pressure is building up in her body.
For the most part the children are wonderful . . . truly wonderful!  They change every day, their interests, their play habits, their choices.  We are all about choices here at Tumaini House, illustrating that when one makes a bad choice there are usually bad consequences and that we are, each of us, responsible for the choices we make.  Sharing is a big deal – toys, bicycles, etc. and we’ve changed up our dining practices.  The world here revolves around food – growing it – getting it – eating it and Tanzanians are famous for enormous portioning and I mean enormous . . . the foundation of each meal has been carbohydrates – mountains of ugali and more rice than I could eat in a week.  That has changed.  We eat less food per sitting and have inserted an afternoon snack of veggies and fruit.  So far no one has fainted but Raymond teases me incessantly with his comment, immediately after finishing a meal of, “Mama, nina nja”, “Mama I am hungry”.  He follows by wiping both corners of his mouth and then his belly and then shakes his head in the negative showing me he has not had enough. We also eat together as a family now . . . still some wrinkles to iron out but it is wonderful having dinner conversation and us adults bounce around from table to table so that we can interact with different members of the family . . . it really is special.
The house is full!  Laci returned home safely and we miss you already . . . Rachel heads home on Friday after a month, but Katy, Jenna, Amanda and Lucy remain to greet Alison upon her re-arrival and Cindy’s daughter Joelle visits us on Sunday . . . Karibu!
Baba Steve arrived and then went down ill but is up and busy today and had a push up contest with the children . . . I think Connie won . . . teehee!  And with Baba came our new computer from Fusion Youth in Ingersoll . . . Asante sana for your kindness.  We will Skype (cheriesz) as soon as it is up and running but do send our sincerest thanks for your kind donation.
To all of you suffering the cold of winter pole (polay – sorry).  We are so very grateful for your continued love and support and please know that each child begins to display a measure of confidence which comes along with the knowledge that they are cared about . . . you have made that possible and it is my simple, but very prestigious honor to pass along all of the kisses and tickles and cuddles you send . . . be well!
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