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One Day

As I type this blog by special high powered Brookstone flashlights, I can not overstate the daily challenge of living in an “under-served” community.

The morning began with a meeting of the parents of the Kilimahewa students. About half the parents attended the meeting – a pretty good attendance given their circumstances and need to harvest the corn from their fields at this time. So just to mention one “issues” discussed at the meeting: As you know, we have begun a lunch program of makande for our teenagers. One of the main obstacles to overcome in such a program is procuring firewood. For environmental and other reasons, the government no longer allows the selling of firewood through most outlets. On the other hand, there is no alternative source of heat to cook their food. Therefore, the community has to figure out a way to gather enough wood to cook the beans and maize in the outside oven each day. Today, one of the students’ fathers donated a tree for this purpose and the community stayed to plan how they would chop, prepare, transport and store the wood for use when next year’s school year begins in January.

As an aside – you’ll see my husband, Peter, and I eating a plate of makande – for the students it meant a lot to see mzungas (white foreigners) actually eating their food – and it was pretty good for carb lovers!

Next, we surveyed the piping that has been laid for the water project. Of course, even though the project is serving a community that has no ready water supply, the local water company is none too pleased at our well and so without going into details, even when you overcome physical and financial obstacles, bureaucratic obstacles lie in waiting.

After Kilimahewa we stopped by the village ward’s office. Last week we were informed that a classroom and teacher’s cottage (in the most basic sense) at the ward’s primary school remained unfinished for several years because the local village’s funds had run out. The government in Tanzania issues educational orders – for example, that each ward must have two secondary schools – but it is then up to the village to finance the project. Many times, this places a great strain on the poorer communities. We were greeted by the children at the primary school, given a tour of the school, and then hosted to an afternoon snack where one of the leaders read a formal request of funding support to complete the two rooms. Of course, they handed Peter the letter of request 🙂 stating that it was their custom to deal with the man in these kind of issues. Fine by me!!!!

Next, on to several homes of our students. This blog is getting a little long but you will see one picture of a mud room that two girls are building themselves with their father in order that they have their own room in which to sleep. They have to finish the mud walls, stick and tin roof before the small rains in November or all their work will “melt” and they will have to start over.

And finally, our last visit was with one of our students who lives with her family in two rooms behind a gathering place where men drink local brew each night. Here she is pictured with her family. These are the circumstances in which our teenagers try to learn. All in one day.