Saturday, March 05, 2011

One month cold rainy grey dark Toronto the good....
I am reading over my blogs of the last few an email from a family member of a recently deceased director of one of the shut down corrupt orphanages imploring me to remove the name in my description of her brother's death, which i did. Now that he is gone, there is no point in naming him directly or dragging any of what happened up again, what was done was done. And i empathize with her, in that this man's children do not need to grow up and read directly of the deeds of their father.
Time to move on...and we all have.
I had no time to write of the last week in Tanzania before coming home...a great few days in Arusha where i met the director and scientist organizing the arrival of 40 international scientists coming from all over the world to inspect what they call Litolia, the feet of a mama, baba and toddler infused into rock near Ngoro Ngoro, a few hours away, reputedly 3 and a half million years old! These feet had been discovered 20 years ago, and for awhile had been uncovered and left to the elements, cracking and fading a little in some parts. Now, covered in moss they were about to be exposed to the best minds in the world to determine exactly how to perserve these feet. It was fascinating and so was this scientist I met at the Lush Garden Hotel.
Back to Mto Wa Mbu...working with Charles on our new brochure for Majengo to distribute to safari tourists at our new Majengo Visitor's Centre, he left the next day for Dar. The next morning beginning a typical day infused with frustration, my frustration, reminding me again and again, the merits of patience...ah....Up early to grab a bus up to Kiratu to the only bank which will spew money through my debit card, and WAIT! the machine is broken.. no money, then on to the ICA offices to meet with 4 Vicoba micro finance groups - the leaders of one are waiting outside under the shade of a tree..the door is padlocked, and after many calls and an hour later, we WAIT, Glory arrives with the key, her fiance had been sick and she'd taken him to the hospital. We get in but still with one group out of 4 represented, we WAIT...No one had told the other 3 groups to come, misunderstanding...we hold the meeting finally. My three canvas suitcases are not in the office as told. They were in the truck which went to the car wash, the bags thrown on the cement floor, and left there by accident...Kissa who is taking Charles' job has grabbed the all day bus to Moshi and back to pick up wired money arriving from the U.S., won't be back till nightfall, cancel meetings. But then...our last afternoon at Majengo:
We gather up all 77 kids and take pictures of them one by one in front of the grey stuccoed wall outside the main orphanage in groups: pre school live in kids, primary 1-2-3-4-5-7...all the live in kids, we take pictures of them alone and in groups, me with the camera and Peter sitting on a stool writing down their names and a description of their clothing: pinky shirt, Snoopie, uniform with shirt hanging out, one pink and one grey flip flop. Then we assemble them together with the staff behind and snap a few, make a little speech about working hard in school, and that we'll be coming back soon, and we love them so much, and we're shaking each little hand, or banging fists and some of us are crying and some of the kids too, little bodies racked with tears pressing up close to our legs, our is heartbreaking to say goodbye.
That last night, dinner at Pambazuko the other Children's home with those kids who were rescued way back in 2009 from one of the 'bad' orphanages, the kids i first hung out with before discovering exactly what was going on...They are magnificent. Here we have a family group of 16 growing healthy kids who have been together for years, at first under the direction of corruption, and now at Pambazuko with a great mama and baba looking after them.

WE did magic tricks...three little you know that one? showing them explicitly how to do it for friends at school....and then teaching them the Bunny Hop which they loved! Great singing and dancing for a few hours, pack up and the next day take off to Arusha with Peter, Kissa, Glory and Hamidu our to buy stuff for Majengo: kitchen and cleaning, all the uniforms, sweaters, shoes...the 5,000 litre rubber water tower tank and metal poles to build the tower, two pumps one to give as a thank you gift to the Catholic Mission next door who run an infirmary for delivering babies and who have been without water for the last three months!! and one for Majengo. What else...down the list...the truck filled with goodies, I stay in Arusha with Peter and the others back to Mto Wa Mbu...we get 1,000 brochures copies for $1 brochure, insane... remind me to bring them over next time from Canada...
And the long trip home...9 hours to Amsterdam...8 more to Toronto.
On the plane a fascinating guy whose an international marketing person, and a determination to drop my prejudices and join Facebook...maybe Twitter, hey why not!!
Time to get serious. We need help!!
Have applied for my Canadian registered charitable status..should get the results within the year. Got to get out there, make presentations, form a Team Canada, get the word out and introduce Majengo to everyone out there who wants to help the little orphanage that grew and grew...
I am so proud of our staff in Africa...if not for them, those 47 new kids would never be integrated so well into Majengo. They were abused, dirty, sad scruffy little stragglers, starving, without medical attention and certainly without attention and love. Today thanks to our staff at the orphanage and at ICA, those kids have come together as one big beautiful family, all 77 who live on our premises.
It is the government's preference to locate children into the community's homes of family, relatives or friends and neighbours rather than in an orphanage setting, so many of the kids coming from the 5 shut down orphanages have been relocated into homes in the community, but who come to Majengo for all three meals and schooling five days a week.

So far so incredibly good....
I write today three weeks after returning from Africa.

Charles is still in Dar, his father suffering a series of strokes, I wish his family all my love.
Kissa has taken over his job in Mto Wa Mbu, with Peter and Glory at ICA working with our staff at Majengo, daily visits, shopping, financial accounting, one on one meetings with the children. Helping with cooking, cleaning, we have lost two of our Masai girls who have gone back to their villages, Mayunga and Raymond, our government leaders on the lookout to hire more staff.
Sixteen kids and Peter got the chickenpox..a few have had malaria since i came home, with visits to Sister Monica at the Catholic mission next door. All good. They've added a snack at 11am for the little ones, in preschool...fixed the broken table and bunk bed...expanded the outdoor kitchen, built the tower for the water reserve tank, still waiting for the electrical hook up which we paid for in December. Shelves have been built and installed in house one and two, a fence now surrounds the compound. Our three watchment have uniforms, boots and a set of bows and arrows, instead of the guns they originally asked for, and flashlights. Done. A tailor has sewed uniforms for all 114 kids, shoes have been bought, sweaters and school bags. What else?

Money ran out to build the new Visitor's office outside Majengo and the outdoor dining room facility with the thatched roof and tables and benches for 100 people...waiting...

Just came back from a great three days in Warren...thank you to Pam at the McKissock offices working with me all day Wednesday on our new brochure..thanks to Maxine, Nancy and Judy for editing back in Toronto. A great dinner in the basement of the Presbyterian church and afterwards a presentation with a few slides and Matt and I up there talking about Majengo, those folks planning a mission visit in 18 months with 15 or so members of the church. By then we should be in the throws of building our own brand new orphanage facility, as our leases run out in 2013 for the three houses we now use. Jamie, Ian, Matt and all the folks at Warren Majengo, what a great team. We're planning an Art Auction/Majengo catch up in June, followed by my giving a two day art workshop geared for absolute beginners all the way up to advanced, easy, informative, fast moving...using all kinds of medium: paint, charcoal, pastel, paste, collage, coffee!! Hope to get lots of would be painters out there for that workshop..all proceeds to Majengo!
RE organized our budgets and wiring of money to ICA Tanzania...way more efficient, with monthly financial statements and narration of the kids due before monies are sent across. Much clearer and easier for Kissa there, and great for us to receive monthly updates. Ah...we move along slowly, but as my friend Nancy up here in Toronto said last week, the amount work achieved by everyone re Majengo in three short years is astonishing, considering the distance across continents, difficulty in communication, differences in cultures, language, perceptions, ideas, finances, illnesses, deaths...... Incredible!

Ian is going back mid March, with his wife Becky, his parents and aunt, for a week of safari and another working with the kids at the orphanage. I am as aways tempted to go over! We are having our 2nd anniversary party over there on March 25, a huge triumph! especially with all our new kids and staff...and i am supposed to be there April 8 and 12 to pick up the loan money from the 4 micro finance groups...we shall see............

Till then....thanks to Judy Steed I'm doing three presentations at the Central & in downtown Toronto in the next month, with kids from their youth group and at a couple of big adult groups. Open and available to talk to everyone, and anyone..please call me!
Or email:

Lots of love to you is almost spring!

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