Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gender Bender Benedictor

We are currently feeding an 8 month old baby named Abdul. His mother died shortly after he was born. His father is a fisherman and can’t care for him and he got very sick for awhile. We pay for his formula and porridge so that a relative can care for him. Recently, Abdul’s father had a problem with the caregiver. Our boys Benedictor and Benard were home for the evening and helped us out. They acted as mediators between father and caregiver, delivered the food and cared for Abdul. Benedictor was more than willing to carry him on his back in a khanga. Abdul is growing slowly but surely and he liked the ride with Benedictor.

Men carry babies a lot in Tanzania, but they don’t carry them in khangas! Khangas are an essential part of every Tanzanian woman’s wardrobe. They are beautifully colored cloth with a Swahili proverb on them (see blog below by former volunteer Carissa).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Teen Talk

Aaron Kohn is not your average teenager. You wouldn’t know it right away, but the world map in Aaron’s brain doesn’t contain the same boundaries that a lot of people take for granted. At 16 he traveled all over the world and has already directed, created and edited his own documentary about San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert (check out www.kicktalk.org). Aaron’s work seeks to show that beneath all sorts of difference in musical tastes, income levels, education and skin color, etc. we are all more alike than we are different.

On his way to check out a school in Botswana that he may attend, Aaron decided to pay us a visit. He is creating a radio program and wanted to interview our boys about their experiences on the street, and hear what their aspirations were for the future. The boys were more than happy to share their stories and get their turn at the mic. For some it was a rare chance for emotional catharsis. Although the luxury of planning for the future is a bit new to them, the guys are getting used the idea and talking with Aaron facilitated that.

One day during Aaron’s visit we all took a trip to Kiwangwa Secondary school where one of our former street boys Yassini studies. It’s a bit of a haul on a very bumpy road. First we stopped to meet with some of the Wamangati, a tribe of nomadic pastoralists. They have a settlement just outside Bagamoyo. Unfortunately, most were at the cattle market, but we had a nice morning in a pretty grove of trees.

Off to Kiwanga School, situated in a town known for its pineapples. Yassini was so glad to see us! William, Benedictor and Emmanuel were happy to get a chance to see old friends. The school was in the midst of building 100 bunk beds. For the past few years students have been sleeping on the floor but now the beds are almost ready. On our tour of the dorms we found a girl with severe malaria so we took her back to Bagamoyo for treatment.

En route back to Bagamoyo the van popped a tire. No one seemed to mind though. The guys got out and made up the Baobab Home rap and Aaron got it all recorded. Thank you Aaron and family! Karibuni Tena.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Frida Doing So Well in School

We don’t see them often because they have other places to live, but the Baobab Home also sponsors two young women in secondary school. Frida’s mother and Siwema’s parents all died of HIV/AIDs. The Towndrow family of the UK paid their back school fees and now send $110 for each twice a year to cover tuition. Recently I visited Frida, pictured here, at school. Her teacher could not say enough about how well she is doing. The burden of not knowing whether she can continue school is lifted and that has freed up her energy to study and excel. She holds a gift from the Towndrows.

Tutaonana Lynne (we will see eachother again)

The picture on the left is not very clear but note that everyone is smiling in anticipation of Lynne Christenson’s chocolate cake. Lynne interned at the Baobab Home this summer and did so much to help us in many and various ways. She updated the website, tutored some of the guys in English, got them all started learning the computer, filed, sorted, wrote grant proposal material and did other office jobs that most volunteers want no part of when they come to Tanzania. Some of that may be forgotten one day in the annals of Baobab history, but Lynne will be forever known as the one who brought chocolate to the Baobab Home. She cooked cakes and brownies the likes of which no one here had ever tasted. The security guard nearly bit his own finger off eating her carrot cake. In the picture we are celebrating the collective birthdays of our (former) Street Boys. None of them know their real birthdays or ages so Lynne just baked a cake for all and they got to make their first birthday wish….

Thank you Lynne. We miss you! asante SANA. Karibu tena!!

Baby Steps

Our very first client, Asia, has been thriving for almost three years and her success continues to inspire us. When she told us about her friend Mwanaidi, we were eager to help Asia to help her friend. Mwanaidi is a mother of three. Several years ago she suffered from tuberculosis and believed that she was cured. She miscarried a baby about 5 years ago and was given some medicine by injection. No one knew it at the time, but tuberculosis was developing in her spine. The gradual lose of feeling in her legs she attributed to the injection she got after the miscarriage.

When Asia brought her to us she could barely stand up. We took her to the government hospital for a cyst removal operation but they didn't know what to do about her paralysis. During several months of waiting, Mwanaidi got worse and could not even stand alone. With the help of The Health Resource in Conway, Arkansas www.thehealthresource.com we were able to learn about her condition, called Pott's disease. Now Mwanaidi is getting the medicine that she needs and we are so hopeful and confident that she will walk again. Despite the fact that she is older than Caito, she insists on telling all the doctors that her name is Mwanaidi Caito (the daughter of Caito) because he takes such good care of her. Thank you Asia! If you would like to contribute to Mwanaidi's monthly travel expenses to Dar, please contact us at info@tzkids.org.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Smile! You're on camera

Jumanne (his name means Tuesday in Swahili) is taking your picture! He made his camera out of dirt and dried it in the sun. Having seen our son Justis using a nebulizer for asthma, Jumanne and his friends lately take turns playing doctor and " make" a nebulizer out of a rock, a piece of long straw and some cardboard for the mask.