Wednesday, Feb 10...amsterdam airport...8:45 am...hopefully..on my way!! This morning at the crack of dawn...snow covered highway a little icy, Merit and i driving into Schiphol airport...a great 2 days out at Ophmert with Merit and Hans, with their brand new little Dutch water puppy Nell, thank you guys for looking after me, albeit with a nasty flu and cold, coughing and sneezing and blowing for two days, exactly what i envisioned on this first leg before Africa!It seems to be waning, and theoretically, all set to go! I book in and am selected by random as one of the 'lucky 18' who got put on standby for today's flight!! they overbooked!! Nothing to do but hope, and wait, and write...finally...
Charles, and the creation of Majengo orphanage, and the 52 little kids on the mud floor, and our commitment to try to build a new orphanage, April 08. Just down the road, we found a big house 90% finished owned by a woman from Arusha and did a contract with her: we finish renovating her home, and we get to move the children in for 4 years...cost, $12,000. My Swedish friends, Kerstin and Berndt who'd been badly burnt as I on that first orphanage, went in for half..Tom E. from Minnesota, a Rotary man drawn in by that first orphanage en safari, checked me out on this blog, promised the second half...Charles back in Tanzania, took over the contracting, and we were on our way. By December 08, with skyrocketing building costs, we ran out of money. I hit my email addresses, and by Jan. 09: 40 new donors came through in a week with another $8,000., enough to finish the job! thank you everyone!!
Enter Matt McKissock!!
Just days to leave, I get a phone call from a guy from Pennsylvania who want to rent our family cottage for a week that August...ok, great! but we have to do it in a hurry, i am leaving for Africa in a couple of days...Oh, said he, and looking back, this question would be one that would change his life: "what are you doing in Africa".
I didn't have a lot of time, but i spead through the excitement of what we were doing over there, building a new facility, raising money for the refurbishings at this point...the 52 little kids, Charles, all of it...I emailed him the cottage contract, attached some pictures of the kids as an afterthought, and to my delight along with the contract he sent me a donation the very next day! wow!! what a great guy! I called him back to thank him...that was Friday. I was leaving the next Wednesday. On Monday morning early, the phone rings..my house is filled with things to bring and a to do list - I am racing...it is Matt. He invites me to drive down to Pennsylvania to meet with he and some friends...they can help us, tonight! No...i cannot go. My daughter and her partner are coming by to teach me how to use the video camera. He is insistent. But no. The next morning this guys is calling again. WE can help you. We want to help you. My wife and i will drive half way to meet you tonight!! dinner...But no. My kids were having my going away dinner...i couldn't cancel. I was sorry! Who was this guy!! I said, Matt..."if you are so interested in what we are doing in Africa..you are just going to have to come over to see for yourself!!" Well..of course he wouldn't, couldn't....he called that afternoon, with two hours of questions fired as if from an explosion!! I could answer most of them, except maybe, in hindsight, the most important. What was my operating budget for this orphanage? I had no idea? None...I was not concentrating on how in earth we were going to keep this place going, my only concern was getting it built!! It didn't occur to me, the other...i had no idea. I didn't know how many kids we would have, or what anything cost! Budget. I couldn't possibly make a budget till i got there...but i knew i would, as soon as the place was built. I had to get there first, to check everything out, to find out what we needed, how many staff, everything..then i would know..of that i was confident. But now..no. I couldn't even possibly guess. and that was that.
WEdneday night i left for Africa, dropping off into Gotleib Sweden for two days for meetings with my Swedish friends..they had just been over a month before with so much to tell me, pictures of Majengo...and great news that they had opened another orphanage home and managed to bring 16 children from the 'first orphanage' over to form a new family. We formed a team and vowed to work together on both orphanages. We were ecstatic!
9:30am...boarding at 10...this is going to be rushed...bear with me!!
Mto wa Mbu 2009...Majengo...rough, walls done, roof now...but no bathrooms, kitchen or finishing...empty, no furnishings. we got out our measuring tape, made a plan of the house, ordered 12 bunk beds to be made, 3 dining tables, 36 little desks, benches, chairs...ordered 24 mattresses covered in plastic, sheets, towels..imagine outfitting a house...in Swahili! the women from the neighbourhood arrived with hoes cleaned up the entire outside, and began to build an outdoor kitchen.
He was coming over!! with two friends. they would be arriving in a month!! what did we need!! Was this really happening?? Who was this man? What kind of person would fly all the way over to this remote village in Tanzania..to see what we were doing? What in earth was happening? It was a miracle. Matt, the miracle man. Was coming! We made a long list of everything we needed, our hope list...
I just lost 15 min of writing!!time ran out...luckily the above was saved!!
So...very briefly....all of this is down in detail on past blogs, but very briefly!!
Matt, Bill and Ian arrived a month later...with 8 duffel bags of everything we asked for....we all fell in love with each other.
Day one, our grand opening with 40kids and 8 wonderful staff..with village elders...our ica tanzanian staff people....neighbours friends....the next day a safari with 32 little kids who had never been on a bus before, let alone seen a giraffe, 10minuts from the orphanage....Matt and Bill and Ian went on their own safari, came back, made a video of the kids..went home, and made an incredible commitment to back the financing of this orphanage for one year! It was a miracle.
I visited Warren in April...met the McKissock clan, how warm and wonderful they are, and so enthusiastic with everything we are doing...we gave a presentation. Matt opened the Warren/Majengo foundation..and just last month we got our IRA tax status as a charitable organization. Now everyone donating toward Majengo will get tax receipts, hurrah!!
Matt told me in the summer at our cottage that this was the most important work he had every done...he hoped, all going well, to make of goal of going from these 40kids up to 1,000 in 5 years!! Incredible!!!
I visited a month ago, and stayed with Matt's mom..Diana...
She was dying to go over...but was afraid...i wish i had more than 3 minutes and 1 second left to describe that conversation..but all i can say is that i too was very afraid four years ago, as i embarked on a four month journey, to Zimbabwe, KENYA and tANZANIA...I understand her apprehension...more later!! from Africa...!!