It is now two weeks since my phone was stolen, a situation that is both violating and heartbreaking to loose a large amount of photos, however honestly I can only be very thankful that I was not hurt in the process. The following day after the incident I also became very sick from some food poisoning which resulted in a bacterial stomach infection and yesterday is the first day I have not felt sick and been able to eat normally in two weeks. But this update is not about me, Hope and Soul has never been about me, but it does relate as during this past week my home visits in comparison to my circumstances have been a basis for a greater feeling of thankfulness.
As winter is well on its way in the UK I start to see photos of friends and family on social media include warm winter clothing, icy mornings, seasonal Costa coffee and even Christmas activities! I am reminded that everything is so incredibly different and never would you feel that cold here in Tanzania (unless you were at the top of Kilimanjaro). This time of year is one of the driest seasons although we are supposed to have short rains before Christmas. There is currently no sign of rain and the dust and heat continue! This week I took Vicky and Rehema from the orphanage into town for Christmas clothing shopping and we got ice lollies half way through due to being exhausted from the heat!
Although I may be British the point of this is not to discuss the weather, I might not feel the wintery Christmas feeling but it is fast approaching. On a very important side note if you are living in the Portsmouth area and would like to learn more about what we are doing as a charity, do a little bit of alternative Christmas shopping and love homemade cake then please do come along to our annual fundraiser this Friday...
This week has been a busy one after last week being spent in bed. During home visits with my volunteers on Wednesday we met a mama who 20 years ago lost her seven year old daughter when she went to school and never reached school and never came home, after 20 years the story still brought her to her knees in floods of tears in her single room home with mud walls and dirt floor. This is just one of the five families we visited all with equally harrowing stories. If you are not following Hope and Soul on instagram (you should @hopeandsoultanzania) then you will have missed that our three Sanawari boys who have been studying hard for their final primary school exams all passed with overall 'B' grade!! They will start Secondary school in January and these are boys who have transitioned from life on the streets of Arusha to living in a safe home and returning to school, it has not been an easy road but I have never given up on them and I am so proud of the amazing results they have achieved.
I visited the family of Alima and Zuena on Friday to deliver a birthday cake for Alima. This family live outside of the city in a remote area that does not yet have electricity or running water. The girls live with their mother and father who are both elderly but extremely loving and hardworking for their girls, Hope and Soul has been working with them since Murusali their son was placed in the orphanage that we support. The father had taken Murusali to social welfare as he was struggling to care for all three children and asked that he be given support and so Murusali was placed into care. Our aim as a charity is to reunite him with his family but we will wait until he finishes his primary education next year so that his education is not impacted, in the time that we have we are working towards a safer home environment for all the children.
This family lives in a two room brick built house but the cement holding the bricks is a mixture of mud and cement and is severely eroded. The floor was a dirt floor but last year we paid for it to be cemented and it makes a huge difference to the cleanliness inside. This family of four lives under the light of one single light bulb. It is powered by a motorbike battery and a solar system that was all designed and engineered by the father.
I am just constantly humbled by the situations that people live in here and their gratefulness to God for all that they have. I am thankful that I live in a house with multiple rooms, with electricity and running water but wow did I have moments of feeling sorry for myself this week with a stolen phone and sickness, but why should I?! I have everything to be very grateful for and sat for a long time on the home visit humbled by this one single light bulb. How many bulbs do you have in your house? Powered by stable electricity?
Alima and Zuena are the sweetest of girls but they miss their brother dearly. I sat with the girls and looked over their English books, Alima will go into her final year of secondary school next year and wants to be a lawyer, she has a very good comprehension of English for studying in a government school and she said it is her favourite subject. Zuena who is in primary school wants to be a teacher, she looks just like her brother and when they get to meet they are obviously very close. Zuena knew that I was coming to the house so put on the dress that I bought her through her sponsors generosity. The girls are fighting for a brighter future with smiles on their faces despite the circumstances they face, one day soon they will be helping their parents and our aim is to support them in everything they dream.
The one single lightbulb echoed over to my second favourite home visit of the week to see Deborah and meet all her siblings. Deborah was featured in my newsletter 'a week of resilience' and living just a mile and a half away from Alima and Zuena it is becoming my favourite area to visit. Deborah and her family live in a home made of tin roofing sheets and our aim this Christmas is to build her and her family a new home from the foundations they have worked hard for years to build themselves. The holes in the roofing sheets that let in all the weathering elements, the dirt floor and the single bed that sleeps five children are some of so many reasons that this family deserves our support.
In the next few weeks I will be sharing about how you can help this beautiful family this Christmas. Please remember if you are in the Portsmouth area and can drop in on Friday the 19th to the fundraiser then please do, we would love to say hello and just enjoy some tea and cake with you. If you are able to help with sponsoring a brick for 50 pence for this family then we would love for you to be part of the building team!
And please, as you wrap up warm, as you open the celebrations tin, please remember those living under the light of one single light bulb...