Settling back into school and… Something about Mary!

Things have been . . . well, hectic to say the least with us trying to get all of our children back into school with everything they need to be successful.  School shoes don’t fit after we measure foot sizes, text books are changed after the teacher gives us a list of needs, fundis (tailors) make uniforms but they don’t fit or need to be delivered and all of this takes a tremendous amount of time.  Haradali students headed off first and required soap (body and laundry, they do their own laundry), toilet tissue, shoe polish and brush, socks, underwear, toothbrush and paste, pencils, pens, sharpeners, erasers, exercise books, etc.  Mwajuma, Evalin, Angela, Margaret, Eliza, Emmanuel and Lazaro settled back in mostly without circumstance except that Mwajuma was sent home sick last weekend and then Emmanuel had to come home with problems with his eyes.
He will return to the specialist next week to see what is going on.  They have settled back into their routines and we are taking them to dinner this coming Friday . . . imagine 4 or 5 of us adults and volunteers piling into the truck, picking up the seven of them and all of us driving to a nearby restaurant, mostly likely for chips kuku (chicken and fries) an all time favorite of African children.
Young Roses students went back also and were joined by Vitalis and Paskali, Lohai’s brothers who are settling into Tumaini very nicely. 13 year old Vitalis seems to be an outgoing and cheerful young man with ten year old Paskali equally sweet but very shy . . . more like big brother Lohai.  Neema needs to apply herself more but has been one of us who went down with a nasty bug and she is only just coming around.  Latifa has been sick with tonsillitis, brothers Harriri and Liadi were both so ill that their breathing was compromised and I had to take Liadi (accompanied by Canadian visitors Cora lee and Kathy) for a double injection of hydrocortisone which burns like crazy for about twenty minutes afterward and he writhed and sobbed, “ana mwa”, “it hurts” all the way home! The nurse and Peter had to hold him down for the injection and even Cora lee who is an ER nurse teared up watching little Liadi suffer . . . it was terrible, BUT, the injections were effective for both boys who are well on the mend.  Neema is just beginning to feel better and so we are, for the most part, a healthy family once again!
We are still searching for the right academic fit for Christina.  She is too bright for the special needs class she was attending but when we placed her at Young Roses, with her short attention span, she was simply too disruptive and so we are looking for volunteers to help her in class  . . . she so wants to attend  . . .
Speaking of volunteers?  Cindy and Kal and Jenna and Lucy (thank you for painting the living room bella!) and Joelle headed out on safari to Ngorongoro Crater and will return tomorrow night . . . safari njema!  All have been struggling with teaching the children basic arithmetic and we continue to work on English . . . it is deflating  and frustrating for us to have brought a child out of harm’s way, made him/her healthy and safe and only to stand by, feeling somewhat helpless, while a child struggles to understand the fundamental concepts of thought . . . processing, progressive construction of foundational learning without rote (repetition).
I, and I am not alone, have had a few down days, feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the magnitude of need here for children to learn, but we do have our gifted children . . . many of them!  Zawadi and Francis and Aisha excel at school and Gerehad is coming along and willing.  He just needs some time to catch up.  Connie was shining here, yet struggles to retain knowledge now that she has left home for school.  Vitalis will be just fine once his English improves and Kelvin is coming along.  I read with them yesterday and asked that they translate the book into Swahili from English (the children can read the words but often don’t comprehend), and Kelvin, Francis and Aisha had no trouble.  We are progressing!

And what about Mary our young lady who’s CD4 count dropped to 87?  Little, happy, shining Mary has been at Makumira for just over a week now.  See her photos!  She is settling in with Rose (our Mana OVC scholarship winner) whom, when I asked if she is raffiki nzuri (a good friend), Mary replied, “Sana, Mama!”, “Very!”  It allows all of us to breathe a bit easier because we are concerned about her.  Her CD4 count was tested recently and she is improving, but the food at boarding school is BAD (boiled beans and ugali or “makande maji” I call it . . . boiled beans and maize, every day . . . there is no meat, few fruits and vegetables and little milk, all of which Mary needs in order to remain healthy.

We have set her up with a local farmer who is to provide her with milk daily, fresh from the cow and boiled in the school kitchen and then put into her brand new stainless steel thermos.  We send her with ten eggs – two per school day to be boiled (she is so generous she will give them away so we insisted she take two and that she MUST eat at least one herself!) again in the kitchen.  We have prepaid a school account and pre-booked her ndizi (banana) and parachichi (avocado), and, for this month anyway, we are bringing her home every weekend to EAT MEAT!  Christina will be so jealous!!  She is ecstatic to be at school and Rose and Anna and big brother Raymond are all looking out for her!  Redigunda (Raymond’s sister) has joined them at Makumira School and Athuman’s brother Deo, after a very poor performance on his national exam has been warned that he has just one semester to pull up his socks . . . there are simply too many children with too great a need for us to waste our time and resources on a child who is not willing to apply themselves.
All of us are well and healthy (mostly) and very happy!  Most of us are working very hard for and with each other.  The weather is sunny and warm and very windy (upepo) but we don’t complain . . . I hear there is a ton of snow and it is barridi sana (very cold) back home . . . pole (sorry)!  Sending love and hugs to all!  P.S. Thank you to Tracey and Libby for providing the aid for our last home visits . . . they and we are very grateful!
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