#JoinHandsForAfrica in Tanzania: What Have We Been Up To?

I would like to start off by apologising for our negligence towards this blog and towards all of you that have been constantly visiting hoping to find something new. To compensate, here is a photo summary of all the work we were able to do in this humble city of Dar Es Salaam.

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Our work has been mostly focused around the children’s institute, run by the sisters of Mother Theresa in the Mburahati district of Tanzania’s capital city. A relatively small compound split into 4 sections: the children’s ward, the adult ward, a seperate area for children with special needs, and the sisters’s own quarters.

It is mostly populated by orphans whose parents either abandoned them at the sisters’ doorsteps or – in one very gruesome case – found in the midst of a rubbish dump, the child’s face half eaten by maggots.

The others are children and adults that have found comfort with the sisters, when they couldn’t find it elsewhere.

The institute runs solely on public donations. Everything from water to mosquito netting is provided by the generous hearts of the surrounding community. Helpers work for less than €10 a week and they work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week!

None of the following would have been possible without your constant support and contributions, that are detailed ahead, and we are forever grateful for all!

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By far our most satisfying work has been when we were working directly with the little ones. They welcomed us with open arms; literally, because the moment they saw us they came running to us, arms outstretched, hoping for at least a warm hug.

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Neema, the girl in the middle, who’s cruel beginnings I mentioned earlier, has a surprisingly outgoing attitude. Witnesses claim that, when found, maggots had not only chewed the left side of her face, but had also started feasting on her left eye. Luckily she was rescued before the damage turned fatal.

Luckily, the institute provides them all with food, shelter and genuine care.

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The bulk of our time was spent with the homely children in the special needs ward. At first, we were quite green as to how we could actually help, but the workers quickly eased us in. We fed them, took them for walks, engaged them in several educational games to keep them company. It is very pleasing to notice how well cared for they really are. They all have a very good relationship with they carers and their smile is always present.

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Through #JoinHandsForAfrica (which you can read all about HERE), for a total sum of TSH 1,110,000 (~€540), we were able to reconstruct metal roofing for a small playground they have in their backyard. Moreover, we were able to buy them a whiteboard and some educational puzzles for TSH 120,000 (~€60).

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Taking photographs of the children in this ward was against institute policy, except for special occasions. When we asked as to why there is such a rule, the workers informed us that it stops the visitors from turning the place into a zoo and so the kids never feel as if they are just for show. Therefore we only have but a handful to show you.

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The compound we are staying at also boasts a nursery school and, although we didn’t spend any time there, we thought of improving their learning experience as well. We learned that their colourful textbooks have accompanying cartoons that they can watch off YouTube; therefore we decided to donate a TV worth TSH 459,000 (~€220) fully loaded with these videos and more. We even threw in Disney’s The Lion King for good measure!

They seemed very happy with our gift..

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Our most humbling experience bar none was when we visited one particular family, living barely 500 meters away from our compound.

Bernard, a father of two teenage girls, has been living alone for over 10 years. His wife abandoned him and the children when the oldest was just 6 years old, when she refused to move house to take care of Bernard’s disabled brother. Needless to say, they have have had a tough couple of years. The father buys and sells toys for a living making enough money to eat and pay the rent every month. The children mostly take care of themselves, and the oldest, Maria, has even made it to her final year in secondary school!

At first, we wanted to help them by sponsoring their further education but we learned that the sisters were already taking care of that. After several discussions with family friends, we decided to help Bernard directly by investing a sum of TSH 700,000 (~€350) in his business through a custodian who’s going to help him expand his business to something more financially rewarding, giving him the ability to save up for a rainy day.

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We were also able to provide the family with a new set of beds and mattresses, a bunkbed for the daughters, and a double bed for Bernard, for TSH 500,000 (~€250). We couldn’t actually communicate, since the father doesn’t speak English, but we could easily see how grateful he was.

Another longterm project by #JoinHandsForAfrica!

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Continuing from where we left off in Kenya, we were able to sponsor three teenagers’s education for TSH 2,125,000 (~€1035). One of them, Eriki (below right), comes from a very poor background, brought upon by the early death of his father. His mother (below left), is one of the workers at the institute. Although the wage is meagre, the sisters give them rice, flour and other basic foods to balance it out.

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A couple of weeks ago we even attended an inter-religious school celebration, where a Muslim and a Christian school met and had a form of sports day for their children. As with all other African outdoor activities, it quickly turned into a dance off! Neither sun nor dust seemed to bother them in any way.

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Our cause prospered in Tanzania thanks to the constant contributions from all the humble hearts of Malta and Gozo. If you want to see how YOU can make a change please visit our Facebook page here – #JoinHandsForAfrica.

We will not be updating the blog again until we arrive in Zambia next week but we will keep in touch through Facebook, so make sure to like our official page.

On Thursday, we leave for a 35 hour trip from Dar Es Salaam to Lusaka, Zambia where we are expected at the City of Hope.

Stay tuned!

Androo, Alan

Graduation Ceremony for the ECD Students (& a small Library Project Update)

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Today was a very special day for all ECD (Early Childhood Development) kids at this school. All their parents came over and, for the first time in the school’s history, were treated with a graduation ceremony! Next year they will officially start their primary years.

It was very similar to what we are used to in Malta, apart from the obvious lack of pomp due to financial restrictions.

The little ones even had a lovely dance prepared for this occasion.

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After the certificates were handed out there was a small celebration. This was one huge moment of reflection for both of us. The kids were each given a pack of biscuits and a soda, a one off treat, and the joy on their faces was heartwarming. We have grown in such abundance that we tend to forget how unbelievably lucky we are.

It was even more striking to see all of them handing one biscuit to each of their teachers – even though it will be quite a while before they receive anything close to a whole pack of biscuits again.

Gratitude and appreciation seems to have eroded from our “modern” societies.

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PROJECT UPDATE:

Work on the library keeps moving at a steady pace. Today, the whole floor was levelled and we are now waiting for the cement and sand to start the plastering.

Stay tuned!

Androo & Alan

A Case for Education

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“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

Education, the love and thirst for education to be precise, is the reason we’re positive the library is such a necessity. One has to remember that in Kenya, education is NOT free, not even here..

Yet, fortunately, this little place works a little bit differently. Those who can afford to pay the small monthly fee do so to compensate for all those – and there are many – who cannot afford any kind of education!

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School will soon be closing for the holidays so we made a small visit. The upper primary students were busy doing their final exams,

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The ECD (Early Childhood Development) kids, those between 3 and 5 years old, where happily playing along and got really excited when they saw us! They are a true joy to be with – always smiling, not a care in the world – and all of them really wanted to shake our hands (and see their picture on the camera!). They have so little, yet they give so much.

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We hope they have a safe holiday and we cannot imagine the looks on their faces when they return to school next year and find our little surprise all up and running!

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Stay tuned.

Androo & Alan