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This update comes from a very beautiful sunshine filled, crisp UK morning albeit freezing! I have just been for a walk wearing thermals underneath my clothing and still froze which I think will be a  recurring theme for my next few months here. I will start with the important details as I know these updates can be long but if you take away anything from reading this then please know that we need your help. I have purposely returned to raise awareness of the charity and our current projects and plans for 2024 but it is all about finding opportunities to share and people who are willing to listen and will hopefully support. If you are part of a group that you know would be interested in learning more about Hope and Soul and potentially supporting please do reach out and let me know. Examples include schools, churches, youth groups, local clubs, home groups, college, university and more. In the past we have also been fortunate enough to share with charity committee teams in larger businesses and had an incredible response. Please do not be shy to reach out, all ideas welcome and we would love to hear from you. On an individual note we still have children and young people that need sponsorship and we are always hoping to increase our social media reach so if you can share our posts and invite friends and family to follow and possibly even sponsor you can do your part from the comfort of the sofa :)

Rewind to the 3rd of December and I had a wonderful day of celebration with our incredible social worker Jenipha and her family as they honoured the confirmation of her eldest daughter and I was invited to the church ceremony and the family lunch that followed. I can not praise Jenipha enough for the amazing work that she does for us as a charity and it was an honour to be invited to the family event. Jenipha works full time for Hope and Soul and has three children of her own and a nephew that lives with her. Her husband works away for long periods of time but she is still always on time to work, gives her absolute all, loves our children and families as much as I do and is conscientious in all that she does. She is the reason that I can leave Tanzania for a prolonged period of time because I have every faith and confidence in her and her ability to care for everyone and everything while I am away, how incredible! 

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I knew that everyday following this day until I flew out on the 19th would be busy and looking back that really feels like an understatement. I worked flat out everyday from the 4th but there were so many days of blessings and moments with my little ones that have just made the time that we had together very special. I would take groups of children that live close to each other or study at the same school out to town to buy school uniform and supplies and although we always left the home with a huge ‘to buy’ list we had a lot of fun doing it. 

I have explained before that we do not have the equivalent to doing a ‘back to school shop’ in one supermarket but need to visit at least two areas of town and four different shops just for the basics. The city also gets busier the closer to Christmas it is with children returning from boarding school and families travelling back to their home cities. It became a game to see each day how close I could park to the first market weaving our way in and out of traffic and how early we could start to avoid crowds. We have a shop that we frequent for the uniform basics such as sweaters, shirts, hats and socks and then thats followed by another shop that now knows us by name to buy fabric for skirts and trousers. We then walk up to the tailor for measurements and dropping fabric, I really have no idea how they manage to complete all the work and match all the fabric with the names, we took over forty children to two tailors!  Then its over to the other side of town for the second hand markets to buy school bags and shoes as it is always better to get high quality used items from those markets. During this lengthy process although our children just love having a trip out to town with ‘Auntie Hope’ there are the most inconvenient time for ‘needing to wee’ requests and then after five minutes of being out the car suddenly ‘very hungry’ and so I also made friends with the guy selling juice and biscuits outside of the fabric shop and I would end up going in and he would just ask ‘how many do you need today?’ This life really could be made into a comedy movie. The cute smiles and the joy at a new set of pencils makes it all worth it and we have been so blessed by all our sponsors who have continued to think of their sponsor children all those miles away and send extra support donations for their needs. You know who you are and we hope you feel as special as you make your little ones feel.


8th of December was ‘pick up’ day for eleven boarding school children and normally a day that I complete alone and give myself a high five at the end of the day I actually had some very good company in the form of my friend Rhodes from Australia who has a sponsor child through Hope and Soul. I am sure he originally only agreed to a home visit to meet his sponsor child and family which we did do but first I signed him up to help me drop all the children home. He wrote updates to his supporters whilst in Arusha so let me just share his account of the first half of the day as I always love hearing another perspective to something that has become so normal to me… 

‘Hope picked me up and we went to pick up some kiddies to take them home for the holidays. As expected I was swarmed as I got out the car and the children were very interested in my new tattoo of the solar system. So we conducted a test and we all shouted the planets together as we went up my arm. We dropped the first round of kids and picked up the second. This round was 3 sisters and ‘A’. Our first stop was to take ’S’ to get some new glasses and then to get the girls some special Christmas dresses and shoes. As we walked through the market, Hope with two children holding her hands and two of the girls holding mine, we attracted many strange looks. I said to Hope ‘we are such a modern family dal’. It is particularly amusing to me when we walk into a shop or food place watching the vendors initial reaction when Hope drops fluent Swahili. Our shopping list was complete and much like my girl dad dream, market day was over.'

Rhodes was kind enough to join me again on the 10th December for our little ‘Christmas Day’ at the orphanage. December being the end of the school year meant that as Miss R had finished Secondary School she could join her older sister Miss A who has been having private tailoring lessons sponsored by Hope and Soul. Together they have now left the orphanage at the decision of the mama who owns the facility to return to extended family in the city of Moshi which is about a two hour drive from Arusha. These sisters have been at the orphanage for over ten years and we have watched them grow into beautiful young ladies that we hope will continue to flourish in their new environment. It is however like missing a limb, when children leave no matter how much older the group is getting it still feels like such a huge loss to the group. There are now eleven children remaining registered at the orphanage but an additional six children around during the day who are children of two of the workers. There is a current joke with the older kids that the little ones remind me of how I first met our big kids group and whenever they are dancing and playing together and the big ones stand around and get self conscious about not knowing the dance moves I like to remind them they used to be just like the little group! Emanuel now likes to imitate me saying it as a joke every time we are watching them enjoy themselves so care free. I love these children dearly, the reason I started the charity and always the place I go to ground myself and remember why I started despite all the challenges. Our ‘Christmas Day’ involved a lovely big meal of chicken and chips with all the trimmings, a fashion show of our new Christmas clothes, games which we were all in tears of laughter over and finished with watching ‘Hercules’ on the projector with copious chocolates and sweets for all. 


More school shopping, school planning, managing unexpected hospital visits and I had to take one of our mamas to the hospital when she was in labour! She gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Here in Tanzania when planning where your child will go to school it is less about ‘catchment area’ and more about the talent and abilities of your child. Every child that will transition from daycare to school this year has had to undertake an interview. We try our best to source good daycares that we hope will prepare our children for starting school and we are so proud to say that all but one who had plans for starting Primary School have passed and start as planned. The sad part is the challenges we are having for our little man ‘Y’ starting school due to his special needs. There are very few special needs schools in the city and our little man although he has cerebral palsy  and would qualify for those schools has actually been doing very well at daycare and absolutely loves learning. I honestly believe he would digress being surrounded by children with higher needs than his own compared to the ‘main stream’ environment he has grown used to. Having worked with children with special needs in the UK before nursing I have a small insight into the challenges faced by parents here requiring support with these kinds of decisions and gaining support so you can imagine how much harder it is in Tanzania. We want the very best for our little man and although we have no expectation for him to complete national exams, schools are not able to accept him without registering him for exams and then we have found already three schools not willing to accept him knowing he will not perform in those exams and it is heartbreaking. There is still so much to keep fighting for, for so many of our children and especially those with long term conditions and special needs.

On the 17th of December just two days before flying back to the UK I got my high heels back out again to attend the confirmation ceremony for our little Miss H, I have actually had the privilege of visiting the home of her sponsor here in the UK and seeing her photo on the fridge was such a wonderful reminder of how the gap between sponsors and child is not actually as far as I think.  Without our support this is a young girl who would most likely not even be attending school now let alone her church confirmation lessons which she has done so for the past year. The most special part of the day for me was seeing her relationship with Delilah and this photo really does sum up how much Miss H loves her. Delilah is employed by Hope and Soul to work with our most ‘at risk’ families, that can change week by week depending on circumstances but for the past six months she has been working to support the family of Miss H and her four siblings and single mother. Delilah is incredibly hard working and walks into any home and treats it as her own in a very respectful and loving way to all. We are so proud to have her working out in the field and representing us as a charity. As a single mother herself she returns home at the end of the day to her young son and is proud of the work and employment that she has with us. We are building a team around us of incredible people and in turn our children and young people are progressing towards brighter futures.

Please do not forget about my plea at the start of this update, we need your help to share the word about Hope and Soul and we are looking for any and all opportunities to do so. We have so many incredible stories and testimonies of our little life changers that are beating the odds in more ways than one and it all starts with a decision from a wiling heart not he other side of the world. We have sponsorship needs from £10 a month (thats less than three medium Costa coffees) and you will literally be chasing a life for the better. Think about it, it just makes sense really…

Thank you with all my heart,

Lots of love from Hope xxxx

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