Happy Easter !!!

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Happy Easter wishes to our global Tumaini family!  This has been another incredible trip for me.  I was able to be with Esther for a corrective surgery on her drop foot.  She is convalescing well and will attend Usa River Rehabilitation Centre April 5th to have a wire removed from her toe.  Esther can now “touch down”, putting pressure on the foot and we expect will walk soon.  The cast comes off April 19th.

Our children’s reports came back this term VERY much improved for almost all . . . there are a handful who still struggle, and a very few who continue to “play” with the opportunity given them but for the most part improvements are remarkable!

Little Eliza was first in her class at Maua, and although we skipped Rukaya past “intermediate” and straight into first grade, her report is incredible, AND, SURPRISE – JUNIOR!  Our most playful, mischievous little kima shone on his first ever report card!

Harriri was number ten of sixty classmates, Reggie number twenty . . . Rashid, Said and Daniel (small) are all top ten . . . Paskali is number 20 of 226 students . . . wow!

Three-year-old Kelvin (blind and possibly autistic) is with us and we discovered he isn’t deaf also by chance one night when he began humming the tune to a Tanzanian gospel song!  He is adjusting to his new diet, new brothers and sisters (and my God are we proud of how our children embrace those less fortunate than themselves), a new gari (vehicle – or “walker”) and begins to speak simple words, “mambo, poa, Mama, and does he LOVE Reward!  Reward has a deep, deep voice and whenever Kelvin hears it he begins frantically reaching out for him, fingers flailing, wanting to be picked up, and, once in his arms, throws his head back and laughs crazily!

Little Glory, (3-year-old malnourished Glory) is doing extremely well!  She is sitting on her own, smiling regularly, she plays and most importantly, she is beginning to use her legs!

Glory, Kelvin, Winnie and Ismael (who bombs around independently with his new wheelchair) are scheduled to attend Monduli Rehabiliation Centre on May 5th for assessment and hopefully placement into appropriate schools if possible.  We continue look for sponsorship for each child. (A full sponsorship is $144.00 monthly but some of our children will have additional, special needs.)

We did an exercise yesterday before I left to return and asked all of our children to close their eyes and envision themselves in 15-20 years . . . where are they?  Who are they?  What are they doing with their lives?  I am so proud to share that we have a few teachers, a biologist, zoologist, two pilots, a lawyer working her way to becoming a judge, a safari guide, and a university educated Tumaini graduate, possibly in social work, returned to us and working with our children!  Whoa!  We discussed what is necessary to transition a dream into reality, the steps required, the discipline and commitment, and then we defined “pledge” and asked each child, to make a pledge to him or herself, and to take those steps and continue building their futures.  We are incredibly proud of where some of these kids are headed . . .

We have a new bus!  Oh my . . . Tumaini was born in September of 2009 and it has been until now that we have waited for this gift with ENORMOUS thanks to Stichting Tumaini Nederland for supporting this purchase, and . . . I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Reward who spent more than two weeks managing the purchase, insurance, ownership transfer, installation of guards, seats AND seatbelts, had our name beautifully painted on the side and took myself, Neema, Said and Rashid on our first test drive to the very mountainous “Lushoto” to visit Angela.

Oh, and Baba Dave and Mama Jackie we must thank you for our new piki piki (motorcycle)!

Once we can replace our very old and very fragile and did I say, very old, bibi (grandmother) of a pickup we will be set vehicularly and cannot express how grateful we are . . . and will be.

A note to past and future volunteers . . . we have adopted strict new policies and unfortunately you will not be permitted to drive any of the Tumaini vehicles in the future.  We apologize for this but have struggled in the past and our drivers are being held personally accountable for the condition of our vehicles!!!  Please understand.

We have news!  Mary (Dada Reward, Nelson and Kelvin) has returned to Tumaini to work in collaboration with Oddo and Raymond on the daily operations of Tumaini AND, she is matron to our new “teen” house!  The eldest of our secondary students are living down the street from Tumaini with Mary’s supervision . . . they will budget, shop, garden, clean and cook for themselves (Christina has already baked scones!) to provide them greater independence and an opportunity to discover their own special gifts.  To say they are excited is . . . well . . . Wow!!!

We have a wonderful group of students joining us at Tumaini in July from Belgium and they (with a little help from a friend) will be building and furnishing us with a chicken house!

Did you know . . . that in our District (Arumeru) of thousands of citizens there are only TWO social workers?  Did you know that despite government efforts, there is often, not enough money to provide even transportation for home visits and that our two social workers (Restituta and Elizabeth) must draft and verify all applications for assisted medical aid?  Never mind child or spouse abuse, never mind elder abuse/neglect, never mind family counselling.  Two social workers for THOUSANDS of families!

Well!  Tumaini recently received a significant donation which will not only complete the renovations on the new offices (1.7 million shillings or just over $1,000 CAD), we’ve got enough to assist with salaries for one additional social worker and an assistant!!  Woohoo!!!  (Thank you Mama and Baba you-know-who!), BUT, (there’s always a BUT with me isn’t there?)  We need more help.  Please consider helping with either a one time, or ongoing contribution towards sustaining the provision of much needed social assistance in our District.  Alexi’s abuse was stopped because of our social welfare department.  Hadija, Hussein, Swalehe, Malki, Rukaya and Sumaya’s safety was protected by our social welfare office.  Queenie came to us through social welfare and social welfare intervened and is trying to protect Winnie.  (Two salaries for one month =

I am returning to Canada and will be updating you further on our latest . . . greatest . . . escapade . . . but think better public education . . . student safety . . . nutrition . . . sufficient water supply . . . textbooks . . .  science teachers . . . computer labs . . . dining halls and dormitories and think wow . . . there are some very dedicated teachers at this little, local, government school who want to help their students!  Nshupu Secondary School here we come!

Sponsors we are going to ask that from now on, you don’t send personal gifts to your sponsored child.  Letters, photos, etc. are absolutely wonderful but not all children have a sponsor and not all those who do receive personal gifts and it’s just not fair . . . sooooo, you are welcome to send a few dollars with a card and we will either take or send your child shopping for something personal AND/OR, we will use your gift for a joint present which your sponsored child can then share with his brothers and sisters.

The greatest gift you can give your sponsored child after your support is connection . . . a note, a skype date, a card, some up to date photos . . . a connection.  I know you understand.  Asanteni!

There is a person in my world, someone I love very much, who lives without hope . . . who struggles with the whys and why nots of every day life, of the resulting logic behind one’s sense of purpose. This person carries a sadness and a loneliness around and it is heavy.  Holidays can be lonely times when we feel our hope is lost, or we cannot reconcile our purpose . . . and so, to this person in my world who struggles today, and to anyone else reading this, if you share in this loneliness, this sadness, and even if you’ve never given a moment or a dollar to Tumaini in the past, I ask you to pause and think of our kids, think of the safety they will enjoy today and the wonderful meal  they will eat, the laughter they will share and the prayers of thanks they will remember to give for the lives they are blessed with, think of the health they enjoy and that in another week they will return to good schools and continue in their studies, building their futures . . . perhaps then, you could pause and give thanks on their behalves, find a place of peace, of love, of safety.  For that is where the hope of tomorrow lies, for them, for this person I love who is struggling, for you.  That is where we, where I find the strength to get up every day, after people I love and thought I could trust let me down and pick up the pieces and begin again, our work of accomplishing the impossible at Tumaini, and guess what?  We DO achieve the impossible . . . often!  We restore hope in families who have nothing but a dying child without money for food or medicine . . . we give hope for a future to children who, having lost their parents, see no option for securing a future because there is simply not enough money for school fees, we give hope by feeding grandmothers and grandfathers who have no other means of support, having been abandoned by family members, waiting for them to die . . . and so I ask you to pause and reflect and borrow the absolute beauty of our Tumaini hope and let it seep in . . . let it envelope you and let it bring you peace for just a moment.

To all our crazy, loving, wonderful, generous, (did I say crazy), blessed Tumaini family, from your lovingly grateful Tumaini brood (who will eat turkey and chicken and chips with love and thanks to Babu Cal, Dada Kara, Uncle Lauren and Mama Sara) and cake (baked by Mary and Christina) and ice cream from mama, we would like to wish you a love filled, blessed Easter . . . Mungu awabariki sana wote!  Pasaka njema!

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