Our first month back in Tanzanian has flown by. It has been a process of figuring out what it means to actually start a new program. The progress is slow, punctuated with bursts of forward movement as we accomplish short term goals. Our primary goal is to have our first daycare up and running by the end of the year. As you know we have partnered with the organization Walk In Love. Walk In Love is a registered 501c3 in the States and a Limited Liability Company here in Tanzania. What that means is that it is a registered non-profit in the States so all donations are tax deductible. Here in Tanzania we are a company because we have women who make and sell crafts. Also will eventually receive some income from our daycare. We are still not-for-profit, because these incomes are very small compared to our overall costs. This is one of the questions we were asked many times when we were speaking in the States, so I thought I would mention these details again here.
Currently we are starting the process of meeting with Social Welfare officials to get approval for our daycare plan. We are hoping that they will catch onto our vision of starting a small daycare of around 20 kids that will be easily replicated by interns from around the area that come to train out our facility. We want our daycare training center to be very ‘Tanzanian’ meaning no fancy building, no western stove, no refrigerator, etc. Why, you might ask, would we do it like this? Our desire is that any local woman will be able to walk into our facility and feel familiar and confident with the environment. Our hope is that they are able to envision starting their own daycare. We will buy all our food locally and cook using traditional methods utilized in every middle-class home in Arusha. Our biggest priority is the quality of care the children receive. We want to teach the best care methods for children ages 0 – 5 focusing on development, gentleness and consistency. When kids ‘graduate’ from our program, we want them to be ready to enter into the best schools in the area and thrive because they have been so well prepared.
We have been working with Aubree to transition all of the management responsibilities to Matt and myself. We are developing a new system for book keeping, re-issuing contracts to the current employees, meeting all the sponsorship kids and their parents, and also orienting ourselves with the craft projects. We will be operating a booth at the local Christmas fair selling Walk In Love items. This is way out of our comfort zone. It is a project that Walk in Love has run since its beginning, giving jobs to mothers and fathers through art and design. Two of the women we employ are excellent tailors and are busy preparing stock to sell at the fair. This is a project we envision increasing in the coming months.
Currently Walk in Love is operating a thriving school sponsorship program of 40 kids in two English Medium schools. English medium school is just primary school (grades 1- grade 7) taught in English. English Medium schools are not free, whereas government schools are free. In Tanzania government primary school (grades 1- grade 7) is taught in Swahili and then all government secondary schools (grade 9 – grade 12) are taught in English. Kids who are able to go to English medium school are able to transition to secondary school taught in English much more successfully. This program is going to be overseen by Kelly Mollel. We are so excited to have Kelly join our Walk In Love team. We have worked with Kelly for the past three and a half years. There is no one whom we would rather start a new era in outreach with than Kelly. She has a passionate heart for the culture and people of Tanzania. We are so excited (and relieved!) to have her on board. Here is her blog announcing her joining with Walk In Love: So a New Adventure Begins!
In addition to working on project goals, our days have been full of setting up a new life in Kisongo. Initially we have been trying to get our house into a ‘livable’ condition. Primarily this means we have been fighting with our water. We moved to Kisongo, a village right outside of the Arusha city limits, a week before we left for the States. Kisongo is very dry and much warmer than Arusha. We have a two-story house and the bathroom/toilet is on the second floor. The water is supplied from a line that turns on twice per week during the morning. The water is stored in a three-story water tower. In theory, the water was supposed to come through the line and fill up two tanks, one to supply the first floor and one to supply the second floor. Unfortunately, the water pressure was barely enough to get to the first tank and not a single drop was making it to the second tank. This translates to not a drop of water in the bathroom. We got very good at hauling buckets of water to the second floor for flushing the toilet and taking bucket baths. Matt has been working with fundi (workmen) and we now have a primary tank on the ground and two water pumps to get the water into the second tank and into the house. We also had to install a hot water tank and hot water lines. It was all worth it. I took my first hot shower today, one month after arriving!
We started our 2017 school year a few days after arriving back in Tanzania. Camille is in fourth grade and Tabitha is in second grade. We are studying all the basics: math, spelling, language arts, handwriting, typing, etc. We are also doing a literature based early American history and chemistry. We LOVE chemistry! It has been so much fun to see my girls fall in love with science. Tumi, who has been the girl’s teacher for the past two years, moved out to Kisongo with us. She is starting to work with some of the kids from Walk In Love in the mornings and then comes to teach the girls in the afternoons. In the mornings I teach Chemistry, Bible, History, and language arts and then Tumi teaches the remaining subjects in the afternoons. This allows me to focus on Walk In Love work in the afternoons.
We are also doing Swahili class. If you have followed our story from the beginning, you know that we did not take the typical route and focus on language learning when we arrived in Tanzania. Instead we jumped right into our management duties at Neema House. This was just us doing what we had to do for Neema House. We have always had English speaking employees that could help us with our poor Swahili. Now that we are doing more work in the community, speaking Swahili well is a must. We have found an excellent teacher and are diving headfirst into becoming proficient in conversational Swahili. The girls are also learning Swahili from Tumi. They have been resistant to this in the past, however after our trip to the States, they realized how much they love living in Tanzania. This realization has helped them to be more motivated (less resistant) to learning the language.
Here are our biggest prayer requests:
- We are asking the Ministry of Social Welfare to approve the building that is already rented to Walk In Love. It is a small building, so they will have to be able to get on board with our vision of a small initial training center with focus on planting multiple daycares around the greater area. We will have to do a little bit of renovation work to make the building a good fit for a daycare, but the potential is there and the location is amazing. It’s on a nice highway that leads to several major game parks.
- We are reapplying for our residence visas. This is a long process that can be full of roadblocks. We are praying that the process goes smoothly and quickly.
- We are praying for all the kids and families that will be a part of our initial daycare program. We have already had several mamas stop to ask about the daycare program. The need is great!
- We are praying for wisdom in hiring employees. Specifically, we need a social worker/manager. We are not ready to hire immediately, but we know this position is the most important and we want a great fit.
- We are praying for wisdom, like an overflowing fountain of wisdom. We face so many daily decisions, some small and some that could change the overall direction of our program. We need an abundance of wisdom.