What a difference a few weeks make in the direction of our program. We are so excited to tell you about what has happened, and how God has answered prayers since I wrote last. I had previously mentioned that we were in the process of setting up meetings with the Ministry of Social Welfare to seek approval/direction for starting our daycare project. That meeting did happen, but before we get to that you need some background on what has transpired with our building situation. If you read the Big Reveal blog or heard us speak while we were in the States, then you know that we were hoping to get possession of a building through donation from one NGO (non-government organization) to Walk In Love. At the time we were very hopeful that this building could be our permanent location. As it turns out, this was not to be the case. Buying and owning property is a very complicated process in Tanzania. It is full of hidden pitfalls, two of which the previous NGO owner fell victim to when purchasing the land and building they were subsequently attempting to donate. Our lawyer discovered that there were several leans on the land. This means that the ownership of the land was being disputed amongst several parties. This is a normal process in land purchases and can go on for years. The other issues we found was that the government had intentions of repossessing the land in the next five years due to surrounding development. We were so glad to discover these issues before we spent a single penny on this property. Even if the NGO would be able to successfully give us the property, we would end up having to fight for it, probably to the tune of thousands of dollars. We have politely said no thank you to the donation and ran like crazy.
We do have a building that Walk In Love has been renting for the last three years. The property was originally used as a boutique to sell the crafts of local woman and a café. Walk in Love has a contract to lease said property until January 2020, so for two more years and some change. The property has some really great features, including a fabulous playground, which was a donation from a previous volunteer. It has a covered patio, decent sized kitchen and an ideal location right on the main road. This means that local parents could drop and pick up their kids easily. The downside is that the building itself is quite small and there is no attached bathroom. The fact that the bathroom is not attached is not really a big deal. Most schools, businesses and even homes in the area do not have attached bathrooms. We know that this building will not be our permanent facility, but we were hopeful that Social welfare would agree to allow us to start our first daycare here as we looked for a permanent home.
Two weeks ago, we were able to meet with one of the social welfare officers with whom we have an excellent relationship. So much hinged on this meeting and I was so very nervous!! Not only were we presenting our plan, but we were asking for her support and blessing on both the plan and location. We knew that our plan was in line with the direction that Social Welfare is moving. We wanted her to see our vision of small scale, affordable, reproducible daycare centers. Guess what?!?!? She approved both our plan and our location!!!! Cheers, clapping, tears, praising God! She agreed that our location was sufficient (although not ideal) for the following two-year period with the understanding that we would be looking for a permanent location. We do have to complete some renovations of the building. Those include re-roofing the patio, adding a second toilet so that we can have boys and girls toilet and adding a window to the building and fencing three sides of the property. We also plan to paint and tile the inside and add some lighting.
We have hired a fundi, contractor, to do the renovations and he has been hard a work for the last week. Matt did some serious measuring and determined that we could move the sink of the existing bathroom outside and add a dividing wall, second toilet and door. We will cover the entire area so that there is protection from rain for both washing hands and waiting for the choo (toilet). We are planning to add some local tinga tinga art to the inside walls. The additional window will add both light and airflow. We have already finished the roofing and fencing project. We probably have four more weeks worth of renovation and then the social welfare officer will return to (HOPEFULLY) give us the go ahead to proceed with accepting kids.
So now while we are waiting for construction to finish, we have been keeping busy doing other things. We have done a few interviews for the two nannies we need to hire. We already have five staff members that we gladly inherited from Walk In Love. I will introduce these fabulous people to you in my next post. These four will be our kitchen manager/cook, teacher/nanny, guard/gardener, nanny/cleaner and tailor for the tailoring project. They all have wonderful stories of connection with Walk In Love and we are so happy to be working with such a great team (missing from our team picture is Aubree Packard, the founder of Walk In Love. She is busy being a new mom, so she was unable to join us for the picture, but she is still an important part of our project!). We have been working on a new website for Walk In Love that we hope to launch in a few weeks. It is still a strange time of spurts of business punctuated by intervals of quiet. I am personally trying to learn to rest in this time and wait for God to direct our path.
In addition to the good news from Social Welfare, we also were granted the first and most difficult portion of our visa renewal in record time. Whoever has been praying for that, you guys are awesome, because no one can believe how quickly we received this good news. The portion we received is the approval from the Labor Department. We now have to submit the immigration section. The word on the street is that if you get your labor permit, immigration is smooth sailing. We are not taking anything for granted, and would still love prayers for the quick completion of our visa. However, we are feeling significantly less stress about the looming December expiration of our permits. Looks like we are here for at least another two years!
So here is what our prayer requests look like now:
- Praise that we got approval from Social Welfare for both our program and the temporary location!
- Prayer for wisdom and revelation of what that new location should be. Our options are either building our own facility or finding a rental and signing a five-year lease. As you can imagine, there are long lists of pros and cons for both options.
- Praise that we received our work permits in record time!
- Prayer for all the kids and families that will be a part of our initial daycare program.
- Prayer for wisdom in hiring employees. Specifically, locating a social worker/manager.
- Prayer for FUNDRAISING!! I wake up in a cold sweat thinking that this thing is actually getting off the ground and we are responsible for funding it. I know that God will provide, but the stress is real! We are specifically trying to plan a Christmas fundraise and need wisdom in that area.