It has been a few weeks since our last blog post. Things have been very busy at the Children’s Home and there have been some comings and goings.
During the month of June, we had the pleasure of getting to know Taylor Phillipi, a student from Kansas State University. Taylor is a Pre-Occupational Therapy major in his Junior year. He spent his mornings volunteering at the Rainbow School for autistic and mentally & physically challenged children. In the afternoon, he played with the children at the home. Many of the children and the child care workers became attached to Taylor in a very short time. His stay went by very quickly and we were all sorry to see him leave.
A second parting came four days later with the departure of Claudia Wallis, a German volunteer. Claudia came last year, volunteering through a German organization for about six weeks at that time. She felt drawn to return and came back on her own in February. Her six week stay this year was flying by and so she contacted her family in Germany to see if she could stay longer. She was able to postpone a semester of college and stayed on for five months! Friday morning, July 6th, we drove her down to Lushoto to catch a bus to Dar es Salaam. Many tears were shed by the students at the home. Claudia had become an important member of the home. She stayed at the hostel and ate her meals with the students. She joined with them in evening devotions and sang with them in the choir at church. Beside working with the children in the afternoons, Claudia taught math at the Irente School for the Blind every morning. And she could bake wonderful cakes. She taught the girls how to bake a cake on a charcoal fire. She will be greatly missed.
This past week, two new babies arrived. The first was Violet, a two month old who weighed in at 2.5 kilos (about 5 pounds). Violet was born in her village and her mother died. Her grandmother and some others in the village tried their best to feed her. Since they had no formula, they were feeding her ugi porridge. When they saw that she was not putting on any weight, her auntie brought her to the home. She is beautiful, with huge dark eyes.
On Thursday, a second baby came to the home. Her name is Marion and she was two days old when she arrived. She and Violet share the nursery. Marion is bigger and stronger than Violet, but both are eating well and already thriving.
We have also been busy working on a project with our Peace Corps friends. Last weekend, we traveled to Mambo View Point Eco-Lodge with four Peace Corps volunteers and a Tanzanian teacher named Frank. Mambo is a village at a very high altitude on the western edge of the Usambara Mountains. On a clear day, you can see Mt Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for us to see “Kili”, but the view was still spectacular. The owners of the Eco-Lodge work with their local neighbors in many projects. Glen, from Texas, had visited the lodge and arranged a return visit to teach perma-gardening with his counterpart Frank. Brittany from Ohio, taught a group of local women how to make their own peanut butter. Sarah from upstate New York, taught some people how to make a “light bulb” out of a 1.5 liter water bottle, water and bleach. Many of the homes here have no windows. Using a roof sealant, a plastic bottle filled with water and two capfuls of bleach is inserted half way into the corrugated metal roof.
The sunlight illuminates the bottle providing light in a once dark room.
This past weekend Glen, Frank, Brittany and another Peace Corps volunteer named Ezra came to Irente Children’s Home. They brought fifteen of their students with them. These kids ranging from 10 to 15 years old, along with students from the home, dug eight new terrace beds using the perma-garden method. They also learned how to make peanut butter and played some HIV-Aids awareness games. They also played soccer and Tom brought out his “American” football, which the kids enjoyed.
After the hard work of digging, we walked with the students to Irente View Point. None of them had ever been there and were really amazed by the view of the Masai Plain from so high up. They were very kind with us, worrying about how Bibi and Babu were doing, whether we were very tired. Climbing up, two girls held my hands to be sure I was okay. On the way down, one of the boys held my hand to help me. It was quite touching to be cared for in such a way by teenagers we had only met the day before.
We enjoy our time with the Peace Corps volunteers, a touch of home. They will return in September with a new group of students to dig more beds for the home. We are greatly impressed with the work of the Peace Corps and ask you to keep them in your prayers.