Monday, January 24, 2011

Hi everyone!! a freezing cold day in icy grey Toronto as I squeeze the last few things into my bag. Packed and ready to go!
Very exciting..
Three huge black duffel bags with wheels, $15. at Kensington market a total find! Maxine and i for two days...first of all at the Goodwill on 'half price' Friday! Max at one end and me at the other the cart in between, we had a blast! Incredible kid's clothing, great quality and so cheap, unbelievable. Four big garbage bags later we are out of there, back home, rolling and packing. Oh and the other great thing, my good friend Sylvia Safdie's son Dov owner of American Apparel shipped 250 t shirts up last week, printed on the back MAJENGO...packed.
You get two bags under 50lbs. I have three...with one overweight, but it's worth it..88 little kids over there with almost no clothing! we are desperate...!!
The other great thing..i've spent all week back and forth with Jeff at McKissock on the email, writing, gathering bios, photos, newspaper clippings and today, finally! Got them into my lawyer up here as our MAJENGO CANADA Charitable Registration application..yeah!! we have a board of 5 amazing people...all ready to go once we get approved..keep your fingers crossed. If i get it, we will be able to offer tax receipts on every dollar donated - a huge benefit to us, and to you!

Sister Sue from the Catholic mission just called to tell me they have a few thousand dollars collected for me when i get back....and a safe and wonderful bon voyage! Yes!!

Meeting Matt and Ian at the airport at 2...this is a huge trip for all of us..short..with Matt and Ian only one week, but what a week it will be...
Meeting Doris, director head of ICA Tanzania for breakfast Wed am to iron out both of our responsibilities and finances for the orphanage, with Charles...and on to Mto Wa Mbu. Meetings set up with the government to get our numbers down. They brought 60 children to us a few weeks ago...but we can realistically only look after 40 new kids as well as our 28, well. We've want a GREAT orphanage, not a big one! Some of those kids were brought down to MtoWaMbu from cities and villages hours away to pad the director's pockets...some weren't orphans..and others have guardians living hours away who should be taken back to their home towns, and put into orphanages there. It makes sense.
We are now looking after 117 children....88 living in, and the rest out, but being supported by us with educational needs, uniforms, medicine, etc....too much!!

So government meetings...but right away off to Majengo to be with the see for ourselves how it is, how these new kids are coping...they have been abused for years by corrupt directors, malnutrition...poor health...but a few months down the road i know they will improve. I'm told these kids are so very happy! Huge smiles on their being together with all the other children of the orphanages, 5 of them, that were shut down. And what about our first kids..the 28 living in with us for almost 2 years! How are they adjusting with the 'invasion'...oh it will be amazing...
And our are they, cooking and cleaning for 100 people now every meal...3 x a day! With three houses, not one. I can't imagine.
And many at our pre school now? We have Glory and Grayson teaching, but do we need a fewmore teachers? How many going to primary down the road. What are their needs: uniforms, sweaters, bags for 100 kids! Shocking!
But we will do it...
I am thrilled Matt could take the time off work...that Ian is coming to shoot wondeful pictures of the kids..their new houses..
I can't wait to see Charles, and Peter...everyone much to see, and learn and talk about..and finally, budget time....up until now, $41,000 annually for about 55 kids and 12 staff...and now...double that? we shall see! And oh, we paid for electricity in all three houses a few weeks ago...will there be light?
Got to run..a few minutes to go....
Next time..from hot sunny Tanzania....
Take soon....xxLynn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

To those who have generously donated toward the huge expansion of our Majengo Orphanage...!!!!! With your help, we have raised $8, 685. up here in Canada over the last few weeks, and I can't thank you enough for supporting us at this very critical time.

As I have written the last few blog posts, the Tanzania government shut down 5 corrupt orphanages on the safari route through the middle of our village, three weeks ago, and dropped off 60 new kids to be added to our orphanage! In many cases these kids have been badly abused, neglected and intentionally kept sick and poor in order to lure in more tourist dollars.

We now add these 60 new live in kids to our current 28 children - between the ages of 9 months and 13 years - totaling 88 living in children we now look after. (plus an additional 20 children living-out with relatives, assisted by us either with educational needs, food, medicine, etc. ) Totalling well over 100 children! Plus staff!

Your contribution will go a long way to helping pay for:
Food, shoes, uniforms, medicine, educational fees, basic needs....!!

This is an emergency....
And a triumph too, that the Government of Tanzania closed down 5 corrupt orphanages on the safari route., and entrusted those kids to us.
We opened and renovated two new houses next to our main facility, in October.
We built 17 bunk beds per house, with new sheets, blankets, mosquito nets and mattresses.
We've moved 25 kids into each house...both with a mama matron.
We're operating out of one outdoor kitchen, with 4 cooks, creating 300 meals a day.
4 cleaners, to wash sheets, clothing, houses and kids.
2 teachers dealing with with 43 preschoolers.
A secretary and treasurer who pull it all together, pitch in and do everything.
2 security guards.

This has become a massive undertaking, and scares me to death!
I am going over with Matt (see below) for a couple of weeks, leaving January 24th.
I’m in touch with Majengo everyday, they have hired 4 new people to keep up with the unbelievable demand of work, especially cooking and cleaning for 88 children, 14 staff day after day, week after week!! I can't imagine!
We will work on budgets, who and how many kids are going to what schools? Measuring uniforms. Shoes. General clothing.. How many in our in-house pre school?
Do we have to hire more teachers?
Pictures, bios, histories of the new kids.
I toss around all night worrying about this, but from them, I'm told that they are coping!
That the kids are happy, with huge smiles on their faces!
But it must be crazy.
I'm dying to get over there and see it for myself.

In March 2007 I was taken to see 52 little kids, all orphaned by HIV AIDS, on a mud floor foyer, one small window, no furniture, leaking roof with pools of water here and there.
One teacher, Grayson.
The neighbours pulled this daycare together, bringing in bits of food for lunch, the women cooking over a fire in the back yard. One outdoor toilet, a hole in the ground.
Together with local NGO, ICA TANZANIA, we decided to take this on.
We found an unfinished house down the road to fix up.

In 2007-8, thanks to the 250 people who helped out, we raised $25,000 to renovate and furnish this house - we have it for 4 years, rent free.
So engrossed to get Magengo up and running, I wasn’t thinking, staff, food, education, medicine, upkeep!
Operating costs!
Matt McKissock of Warren, Pennsylvania called to rent our cottage that summer three days before I was leaving for Africa.
He was fascinated. What are you doing? How many kids? Tell me more!!
With the cottage contract, I sent pictures of the children we hoped to help.
He fired back a cheque for $500.
Over that weekend, he became obsessed. He couldn’t get those kids out of his mind.
On Monday, he called three times: what were the operating costs??
I had no idea.
We didn’t know how many kids, how much staff, cost of food, uniforms, shoes...I would know when I got over there.
He kept calling. Tuesday, Wednesday. Could I come down to Pennsylvania. No.
Who was this guy?
Finally. I told him, if you are so interested in Africa....why don’t you come and see for yourself!!! Right! I left for Tanzania Wednesday night.

One month later, he arrived with two friends, for one week, with 8 duffle bags stuffed with everything we asked for: computers, clothes, shoes, school materials, maps, ABC charts.
They met the kids, played, sang, and did juggling tricks, got to know the staff, village leaders, our ICA local organizers....and made a movie.
Matt went home and made a commitment.
To raise funds with family and friends, to cover our operating costs!!

When I got that email, I bawled my eyes out!
$41,000 a year! 28 kids living in; 25 living out but coming to our pre school with breakfast, lunch and dinner. At that time 10 staff. And these wonderful people were committed to supporting us fully, not just now, but for the years to come.

WE demand four things from our staff: to love the children, 100% honesty, competence and to be hard working. We pay them well, and support their own children’s education.
Up until now things have been running smoothly.
But with 60 new kids!!
It is a HUGE DEAL, Our budget will double this year.

I have promised Matt that I will help...and again, for those of you who sent checks, I thank youy so much!! Every bit counts, believe me! I am in the process of applying for Charitable Registration in Canada. So that soon I hope to be able to offer tax receipts.
But until then, I can not.

For anyone who wants to help out, please send checks payable to:
Lynn Connell, 284 Major St. Toronto, ONt, Canada M5S 2L6

and in the United States, where they CAN provide tax receipts:
The Warren Majengo Foundation, 218 Liberty Street, Warren, Pennsylvania. 16365.

Majengo is a hands on operation in Tanzania...There are no ‘middle men’.
Every cent we raise here goes straight to the children..

I am putting together a group of people here in Canada who would like to get more intimately involved: to get the word out, to help with fundraising, to help organize speaking engagements, to involve their families and friends. WE need all the help we can get!! Please call me if you are interested! It is the most important and worthwhile work I have ever been lucky enough to be part of.

I wish you all the very best in the new year...and again, thank you so much for helping to change the lives of these 88 little people...truly...I wish you could come over to visit yourself!
And if you can...please call me!! 416-951-6528.

Please pass this along to friends....if I could do a slide show presentation at any of your organizations, groups, friends, let me know!!!

The picture above is of the new kids who just arrived from the corrupt orphanages.
How different they look from pictures we have posted of our 28 live in kids who have been with us for 2 and a half years...thank you again!

And on a very sad and sober note...
I've just learned that TomEberhardt and his wife Elenor and their dog, while flying in their small plane from Minnesota to Texas the day before new visit family...went down in a farmer's field, with all killed. I am devastated...

Tom and Elenor gave us $6,000 right at the beginning to rebuild and renovate our orphanage facility....he belonged to the Rotary Club...keeping them in touch with everything we have been doing...even the night before the crash, he stood up at a meeting andtold them ofour expansion, the government shut downs...
He had promised to finance our new facility to be built by 2013....a commitment he made to Charles and I on one of his visits up here terribly sad...
Tom and Elinor will be in my heart forever..such wonderful people and i extend my deepest wishes to their family and friends....I am so so sorry......