John and Christine were happy to accept an invitation from Shaloom Youth Project to attend their Christmas celebration.
The project is our ‘next door neighbour’ and we have heard the children practicing for many weeks.
Performing is second nature to Tanzanian children; little Jennifer sang solo ‘You Raise Me Up’ to the tune of Londonderry Air.
Two little ones had the crowd on its feet with a dance duet and finally a fire eater scared the pants of us! Christine was on health and safety red alert. After the entertainment came the food. Rice, beans, goat and vegetable. How the children can at. They all come from families affected by HIV and food is not plentiful in their lives. The Shaloom project does a great job in educational and social support. There were two staff and about 250 children attended the event. Amazing! Equally impressive was the cooking done on a wood fire.
Earlier this year Busega Scotland provided curriculum text books for all the primary and secondary pupils at Mayega. How delighted we were, on this visit, to find slightly grubby and dog-eared copies in the library cupboard, as evidence of books well read. Inspired by this, Christine, and our educational consultant Sebahene, raided the many book shops in Mwanza, searching for story books in English and Kiswahili. ‘Raid’ is the correct word, as they bought up the entire stock of reading books in the town’s main book store! Children everywhere love reading but book costs, and a lack of libraries, limits opportunities in Tanzania. We are trying to change that in a small way at Mayega. On a positive note, there is a thriving newspaper sector with sellers everywhere. John and Christine enjoy Sunday morning with their copy of the Tanzanian Guardian!
A wee note about Seba. He is an experienced primary teacher who has volunteered to help us raise educational standards at Mayega. A fluent English speaker, he has just completed his masters degree in education at St Augustine’s University in Mwanza.
The sight of children using paints in Scotland is a common one from a very early age. Even if that means more paint on the child than on the paper and coloured water all over the carpet! These creative opportunities are not the experience of most children in Tanzania and certainly not, up until now, at the Mayega Children’s Centre. After the minimum of tuition by Christine off the children went, creating colourful patterns and trying their best to stay within the lines! The thirst for such activities is very striking – be that painting, crochet or drawing. The talent and creativity is there and it is one of the great sadness’s of Africa that such potential is not fully realised. We are determined to do something about that at Mayega and the children are certainly up for it!
After being lovingly packed into a suitcase by Christine, the Berkey water purifier has been safely installed at Mayega. It is miraculous the way the muddy lake water (it is particularly bad at this time of year due to the rains) is filtered into sparkling drinking water. The children still have to fill buckets from the lake, with risks of bilharzia, hippos and crocs, but progress is being made on a piped water supply.
John said the lake water looked like Mersey river water of his childhood – good he can still remember that far back! We were worried that the Berkey may change the taste of the water or the children might be suspicious of it.
No such problems and Christine drank the first glass for added reassurance. Thanks to all who contributed to ‘Walk Moray’ and made clean drinking water at Mayega possible.
One of the most positivedevelopments of the Igombe Family Support Project was negotiating a health insurance scheme for participating families. With a second FSP due to start at Chole, John visited the dispensary at the Bukumbi Leprosy Camp to chat with the ever so helpful Clinic Officer, Mary Chenia. Mary explained that a government health card, costing just less than £4 annually, would give up to seven family members cover for infectious diseases and accidents. This seemed like a good investment, that the Chole women would have a chance of continuing with, after the first year’s payment by Busega Scotland. The next step is to explore what can be offered at the government referral hospital or the local mission hospital, to provide a bolt-on and more comprehensive health care.
It was a tough meeting when Rev Deuli and Julieth Godwin, of Busega Scotland, met representatives of the Igombe Women’s Group – Stella Ndallo, Chair and Judith Majula, Accountant and supported by Alphonce Kagezi, of the Igombe Family Support Project. At stake was 350,000 shillings (£130) worth of investment in the group’s vicoba or credit union. There was a written agreement with Busega Scotland to be debated and Rev Deuli and Julieth scrutinised the group’s accounts. As the smiles in the photograph indicates, a positive outcome was achieved and the donation will be presented to the group in Igombe on 19th December. It will be used for business loans and to help cover family emergencies.