Final Notes From The Field

Photo: Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day – view from KCMC grounds

Dear friends,

I have been home now for several weeks now, and very busy catching up on activities around the house and the farm. In this update I will provide a description of my final couple of weeks in Tanzania and tell you about a couple of the newly sponsored students and their stories.

I traveled from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam (“Dar”) by plane—this was a pleasant treat after previously travelling by bus. I was in Dar for two days. Dar is a huge city with a population of around 4.4 million residents, terrible traffic jams and very hot and humid weather – not my kind of place!

I spent one evening with graduates from the Tukuyu and KCMC schools of nursing, two of whom I had not seen since 2010. I had a very pleasant visit with these students. I also had the opportunity to meet two 2015 Tukuyu School of Nursing graduates’ family and neighbors. Below is a photo of Aisha’s neighbor. The second evening I had dinner with eight nursing students (currently sponsored) at Muhimbili School of Nursing.

Photo: Scraping coconut. A scraper is held under the arm and she rolls the coconut half over the scraper blade. The neighbor’s cooking facility is behind her (charcoal cooker).

Bright and early the next morning I was ready for the bus trip back to Moshi.

While in Moshi, I stay at Tembo Tamu, a very pleasant B&B that I stay at each year, since 2010. This year (for the first time) I stayed in their large safari tent, set up in a private spot. As you can see below, it was quite comfortable in the tent.

Photo: View inside the safari tent (without all my stuff)

In my first email, I mentioned Saraphina, a 19 year-old Maasai girl. Her father had wanted her to marry, while her mother encouraged her to continue her education. Saraphina had arrived at KCMC at the beginning of the term with her belongings in a grain sack and no money. She had depended on others for assistance, including food. I mentioned that I had asked Prighet, a third year student, to serve as her big sister. We had made a long list of items she needed and left money with Prighet so the two of them could go shopping. I met with both of them on my return and learned that they had completed their shopping and had money left over. Saraphina was smiling and quite happy that her worries were over, thanks to TNSP’s sponsorship of her studies.

Photo: Saraphina

On my last day in Tanzania, I was sitting by myself at the KCMC canteen and Saraphina came up to me. I invited her for lunch and she talked up a storm. I was very happy to see her so comfortable.

At the suggestion of retired principal Juliet Chugulu, I also met another first year student at KCMC named Irene. Irene’s mother died last year, leaving four daughters. At 19, Irene is the oldest. Her siblings include Jeska (age 14), Catherine (age 8) and Nora (age 4). Jeska and Catherine attend secondary and primary school, respectively.

Irene’s mother owned their home, which is within walking distance of the school, but left no money and there are no other family members to care for them. Irene decided a nursing career would enable her to support her siblings, but required assistance for the three years it takes to finish nursing school. While Irene lives in the KCMC dormitory, Jeska is responsible for the household during the week. Jeska and Catherine attend school during the day while a neighbor cares for four-year-old Nora. I subsequently met Irene and arranged for a visit to their home.
Photo: (L to R) Catherine, Jeska and Irene
Photo: Retired principal Juliet with Nora

In sum, the family needed sponsorship for Irene’s studies and support for the family of four young girls.  The goal was to have a live-in “substitute mama” and support for ongoing living expenses during Irene’s three years of studies.

At this point, the story requires me to jump to another topic. During my last week in Tanzania, I hosted a group of five women from Western Massachusetts who were members of Sisters for Peace, a group inspired by Nick Kristoff’s book Half the Sky. One evening, they shared a barbecue dinner with the sponsored third-year students at KCMC. Over the next two days they visited a rural women’s group, which opened their eyes to issues faced by rural communities, such as poverty and healthcare. We also spent a day visiting second-year nursing students living in a rural village for a month, where they were practicing what they learned about public health issues.

Photo: Rural home visit with nursing students

Each of us accompanied a group of students and visited different families. We were able to assist families with much needed care in several situations.

Now back to Irene. The Sisters for Peace group also visited Irene at her home and decided they were willing to sponsor not only Irene’s studies, but also support her family. We interviewed and hired a “substitute mama” to live in the home with the three girls who everyone was happy with (we had interviewed several candidates previously, which did not meet our expectations). Meet mama Juma:

Photo: (L to R) Elizabeth, Sabrina, Jessica, Irene, Lilan, Juliet, Mama Juma and Caroline

Mama Juma is now living with the three girls and takes care of their day-to-day needs. Below is a photo of the family with mama Juma. I should point out that mama Juma is a lot older than she looks in the photo.

Photo: (L to R) Irene, Jeska, Mama Juma, Nora and Catherine

I recently and was told that all was going well with Irene’s family, so this truly is a happy ending. Much thanks to Sisters for Peace!

This brings me to the end of my 2016 visit to Tanzania. It was certainly the busiest of my trips, with much time spent traveling. It was very satisfying to see the appreciation students expressed for the assistance they receive.

I want to express my appreciation to all who assist with the sponsorship of these students. 100% of your contributions are spent on supporting students—all my travel and any entertainment expenses (i.e., student dinners) are on my nickel.


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