Reward, Authum and yet another God story!!

God’s Work . . .

It is hot today . . . really hot, but last night a “breeze” (gale comes more readily to mind) blew through and at least cooled the night down and that “breeze” continues today. I hope the laundry stays on the line. We have no water again/still. (The 11 hours we enjoyed it were wonderful though). Our older children are at their schools (Amani, Haradali) writing month end exams and our first graders are completing their exams upstairs. Liadi and little Aisha are playing on our seesaw as a “flock?” of white butterflies glide past . . . there are thousands of them. I hope we’re not witnessing an infestation of the African gypsy moth or something . . .

Reward and I have been in touch this past week and he continues to improve. We still wait for his medical records from the doctors in Dar es Salaam. He is excited to begin his final exams this week and big sister Mary has begun hers already.

Athuman’s father has explained to us that his parents (where he deposited Athuman after taking him from his Bibi) want to keep Athuman with them as he is not an orphan (he has a father now), but we still need to see Athuman. We have insisted upon a meeting, face to face with Athuman to be certain this is what he wants also. A meeting with his grandmother on his mother’s side, who seemingly has custody, is later today, when we will explain to the family that if we don’t see Athuman by the end of this week we will be forced to go to the police. There is nothing more we can do if they will not be forthcoming with him and we must ensure he is safe.

Fundraising for the Lupia (Bibi, Lucia, Baraka) family I shared about with you a couple of days ago is coming along. Our initial need of $4,697.00 has been reduced to $3,800.00 because of your generosity. Thank you! I would ask that you please reach out to help us help this family. We can change every one (six children and five adults) of their lives . . . truly. A donation of any amount large or small will go, 100% towards securing their home and paying for Baraka and Lucia to attend school. We CAN do this!!! Please help. You can read about their situation in the preceding blog.

Yesterday, Oddo and I had a meeting with the head mistress of Makumira Secondary School where Raymond, Deo, Mzamiru, Rose, Redigunda, Anna, and Mary attend. Anna and Redigunda failed their Form II national exams . . . again. In fact, even after a year of boarding school, of quality teachers and teaching, their grades did not improve by even 1%. Both failed their first exam with a grade of just 25% (30% is a pass if you can imagine) and they did the same again this time. Traditional education is over for them and it breaks our hearts. Redigunda is Raymond’s sister, Anna is Athuman, Harriri and Liadi’s and without an education . . . Anna’s parents are dead and Redigunda’s are too poor even to have helped their brightest son get to school. While waiting for headmistress outside her office, I marveled at the attendance stats:

Form I Form II Form III Form IV Form V Form VI
28 34 59 42 19 38 Girls
31 43 84 57 55 108 Boys

How sad it is that, as the grades progress, the ratio of girls/boys declines, hmmm? Redigunda and Anna didn’t try very hard. They didn’t study; they didn’t reach out to our volunteers for extra help in English.  Headmistress put it directly and succinctly when she advised against another attempt at Form II. “Some children lack the fundamentals, some, the intellectual capacity, but unfortunately, some lack the drive, the determination needed to succeed. As educators at this level, we can only bring knowledge to them. Instilling it is up to them.”

We are meeting with their families and have asked the girls what alternatives appeal to them: cooking, sewing, some type of trade and will assist them in acquiring training in one such field.

After our meeting with Headmistress Oddo and I drove about to Shule Uraki, Kilimani and Leganga to pay school fees for our Mana OVC children, the orphan support group we outreach to. At Uraki, while calculating fees for “security, cook, building fund”, illegal fees for which the children are beaten and sent home if left unpaid, the head master shared with us the story of a young man who desperately needed our help.

Omari Said Mhando, age 15, completed the national exam for Standard VII and passed, with two A’s and four B’s. Considering his living situation, this is little short of miraculous. Originally one of six children, Omari’s father abandoned the family in 1999. Their mother followed suit in 2008, and two siblings left home shortly after her. That left Omari, a younger brother Abdi 13, an older sister Fatuma who fell sick while working in a flower factory and has never recovered and big sister Halima 24, single mother of two and day worker with two children, the youngest just five months. She is in the hospital with her baby who, it is discovered, has a heart condition. More on that another day.

What this left is a young man who worked his butt off to earn the grades he did but is now left with not a prayer at finding school fees for secondary school. With his sister in the hospital, food has even become an issue.

Soooooooooo. Oddo and I took the boy’s information and Oddo headed immediately to the District Education Commissioner’s office (whom we just happened to run into at Shule Leganga) so he remembered us. Oddo cajoled his way into a very busy office and explained Omari’s situation (whom he had not even met yet because Omari was waiting at Tumaini House with me). I think what impressed our friend the District Education Commissioner so much was that we have no connection to this child. He is not a relation of Oddo’s, nor the child of a friend. Until yesterday we didn’t know this child even existed. He was presented by his Headmaster as being (like our Chikira orphaned children, whom the headmaster is aware we are helping) in desperate need, having worked, under unimaginable living conditions to earn his way to secondary school and, who, short of a miracle (don’t tell me this is a coincidence!), would never get a chance to continue his education. (Don’t you just LOVE GOD stories???)
So, to bring this tale to a close, Oddo is out as I write this, getting the required paperwork for Omari completed and rushing a physical (I noticed a nasty rash on his chest when I took his photo). Oddo came BOUNDING (no less and for a man who suffered polio!) into my office exclaiming how we are “truly in God’s pocket dada (sister), truly!” having been granted permission for Omari to attend what the commissioner hopes to build into the flagship public boarding secondary school in Arusha District! I cannot BEGIN to tell you how good we are feeling today, Oddo and I (and probably Omari too!) . . . by God’s will, having been in the right place, at the right time, to help this deserving young man garner an opportunity at a future! THIS is what we can do . . . with God’s help and with yours! Asante!
PS If you’re looking for Oddo or me in the next few hours, look UP! We’re still levitating!!!