Goodbye Sunny Tanzania, Hello Massachuetts!

At the Union Cafe in Moshi on my last day in Tanzania

At the Union Cafe in Moshi on my last day in Tanzania

Dear Friends,

My last week was spent in Moshi, at a very pleasant B&B called Tembo Tamu. Over the years it has become my home away from home. In the photo to the left, you can see me sitting at the nearby Union Café, having a cup of Kilimanjaro Coffee.

During my last week, I selected students for sponsorship at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) School of Nursing with Edith Macha, our student coordinator in Moshi. Unfortunately, it is not possible to directly request financial information about the family as would be done in the U.S. nstead, when selecting students for sponsorship, we rely on information in the student’s file, input from staff and a personal interview. Students are assigned to a particular nursing school by an agency of the Ministry of Education. The first introduction the staff at the school has to the student is when s/he shows up on the designated day. The documentation that accompanies the student is very limited. It indicates if the parents are alive, married or divorced etc., parents’ occupation and the number of siblings. The student is instructed to bring money for school fees and a uniform. Very quickly after students arrive at the school, they are asked to write an autobiography and statement as to why s/he wants to become a nurse.

So, how do we go about identifying candidates for sponsorship? Several factors may lead us to believe that a student is in financial need:

  • Staff and teacher perceptions of a student’s economic status – dress, appearance, etc.
  • The amount of money brought for fees (students may be sent home to raise more money)
  • Family status (single parent, orphan)
  • Family occupation (peasant farming – this is typically subsistence farming on a small parcel of an acre or so with small amounts of cash raised from selling part of the crop, street vendor)
  • Autobiography – the student typically describes living conditions at home, struggles to pay school fees in secondary school and education of siblings
  • Personal interview

This year at KCMC we wanted to select six students for sponsorship. We started the selection process by reviewing the files of 23 students. We noted key information using an Excel spreadsheet and made a summary of what we have learned from each autobiography. We also gathered input from the staff member who was designated class coordinator for the first year student group. It took us several iterations to develop a list of six students (more on the individual students selected in a future newsletter), each of whom we wanted to interview.

We subsequently scheduled a meeting with the group of selected students, explained the sponsorship program and invited the students to complete an application. We then reviewed the applications and scheduled each of the students for an interview. During this interview we obtained a better understanding of each family’s economic status. For example, we ask about the construction of the home, the number of rooms, the size of the farm, what is grown, what is sold and how, education of siblings, ages and employment of siblings, who pays school fees etc. I believe we get a pretty good picture of the family’s economic situation by this means. Our application includes a “Privacy Disclosure” with an “opt out” option and I also provide a verbal explanation to the students how we may use the information they have given us.

Here is a photo of the six students selected for sponsorship from KCMC:

Selected students at KCMC Nursing School in Moshi

Selected students at KCMC Nursing School in Moshi

On Saturday, 3/21, I invited the six students for a dinner. Two of the instructors and Edith Macha, our student coordinator in Moshi, also attended. Following dinner, we had a grab bag event with flash drives, English dictionaries and a selection of scarves. The students were very quiet and shy during dinner. However they loosened up substantially as the evening went on, as is evident from the photo below where they are wearing their new treasures.

Students modeling their new treasures

Students modeling their new treasures

Following this the students insisted on a group prayer for me, as shown in the photo below. I was asked to sit in a chair and they circle formed around me. Two of the students are muslim, so the prayer session became an ecumenical event.

Students in a prayer circle

Students in a prayer circle

Since this was my last week in Tanzania, members of the teaching staff at the KCMC Nursing School treated me to a dinner at the Uhuru Hotel in Moshi. The outdoor restaurant specializes in barbecue. It was a very enjoyable evening for me.

Barbeque with KCMC Nursing School staff

Barbeque with KCMC Nursing School staff

Dinner with sponsored nursing school graduates

Dinner with sponsored nursing school graduates

Another very memorable event for my last week was dinner with a group of graduates from KCMC School of Nursing who are employed in the Moshi area. It was very pleasant for me to see a group of confident and happy young ladies. It was again a barbecue at the Uhuru Hotel, however on this evening we experienced the start of the long-awaited rainy season and we had to move under cover.
Overall, it has been a very satisfying (though much busier) visit to Tanzania than in the past. It has been great to visit old friends and to meet new people, particularly at the two schools where we are sponsoring students for the first time. I want to thank all those who have supported the sponsorship of these young women in Tanzania. Finally, I want to say again that all the travel costs and the entertainment etc. of students are on my nickel. In our next newsletter we want to tell you more about some of the newly-sponsored students.

Sincerely,

Tony van Werkhooven

4 Responses to Goodbye Sunny Tanzania, Hello Massachuetts!

  1. tegemea patrick

    It had been a very wonderful moment meeting you again Tony,aim very glad that we were able to meet this time.Thanks everyone for the great thought you have for African women.I assure you that the English say which states that ‘saving one woman is saving the whole community’ is becoming real to all the students you are sponsoring.GOD bless you.

  2. Heather van Werkhooven

    Thank you Paula & Lillian, for your kind replies! As always, his trip seemed to go very quickly with a much traveling, lots of food and visiting with both new and old friends (hopefully I will make it next year!). Its thanks to people such as yourselves that this is possible and we all have the joy of sharing these beautiful young women’s accomplishments as they grow and learn.

  3. Paula Schutzmann

    This year’s letters and pictures from Tanzania have been so beautiful and eloquent! You always do such a great job, Tony. I miss you all and hope things are going well with the grant, donations, etc., I hope to soon
    be able to make a contribution to the very best non-profit organization in America!

  4. We had a great academic activities with you Tonny here in Moshi.
    We hope to see you in the next sunny 2016.
    Lilian.

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