September 13, 2010

The People at the End of the Road

MOSHI Land of Love Land of Beauty Land of Poverty

I have been struggling for a way to present a plea for support, and I still am at a loss. Part of the reason for my difficulty is that I have been so focused on the Moshi school children supported by KIWAKKUKI, that I never thought about the college aged children. What happens when the secondary school finishes and these young orphans manage to pass their exams and enter college. College is simply unattainable for most Tanzanians, and particularly so for an orphan who receives no support from any family member. Yet, is this not the aim of our school programs? What happens when we have a bright young person who supports other siblings, but who cannot continue in school because of fees. There is no such thing as a student loan like we have in the United States. Only if a boy scores in Division I at the end of the year will he be eligible for some amount of scholarship assistance, a girl Level I or II. What happens when you barely miss these levels, but your desire to pursue your degree is great? I just finished Greg Mortenson's second book "Stones for Schools" and have been moved once again by the power of his words. They particularly strike a chord with me because his father was one of the key builders of KCMC hospital, and his family were great friends of our dear friends, The Emmanuel's of Machame and Moshi.

So, I feel that "six degrees of seperation, and have read his books and taken heart in his words.

He quotes from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.” And he talks about listening. Listen to your community and listen to their needs. Whose agenda is this anyway? I have often said of KIWAKKUKI and other NGO’s that they have to follow the funding sources regardless of whether they are exactly what the membership of the organization had requested. An example to the contrary, that of providing the service that the membership had requested is our mobile voluntary counseling and testing. This request goes as far back as 2006, and finally it is actively occurring, at least in some of the districts.

So, when I was presented with a new young man on the last trip, my heart broke again. As Verynice said to me, “we supported him all the way through secondary school and he has done well. He walked 5 kilometers to see you when he heard that you were in town. He has no bus fare, and no food. We often let him help here to earn bus fare and a bag of corn meal for his siblings. Is there anything you can do?”

Because I have no answer for this young man, with his permission, I have typed his story for you and share his picture (with me and my short Alpesh hair cut)

My name is Peter Ancelim Amani. I am the second born in the family of four children with 1 sister and two brothers. I was born on 21st February 1989. It happened that I was born in a very poor family. My father is a tailor who lives in Moshi Rural in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. His income/day is less than 1 US dollar.

My mother did involve herself in subsistence farming and from this we got food and clothes. We have suffered many problems. When my sister was young, she suffered from measles. Due to the poverty of the family, she failed to attend the hospital for treatment and the measles caused blindness in one eye.

I started my primary school education in 1996 and finished in 2002. At this time, I had government support for education and we had to contribute very little. to make up the difference in school fees. However, at the time, my mother worked in a Shamba and it was her subsistence farming that allowed her to pay for my school fees.

Despite the fact that she was working in the Shamba, she also was suffering from frequent illnesses, though at the time I was young and didn’t wonder what the reasons were for these illnesses. She was advised by some neighbors to be checked out by the hospital because her health was deteriorating and it was then that she discovered that she was HIV-infected. When she disclosed her condition to my father, he was tested but found out to be negative.

Hardships in our lives increased after her discovery of being HIV-infected. I was the eldest in the family and therefore responsible for the care of my mother, and then my father separated from my mother because of the humiliation that she was HIV-infected. She was the one forced out of the house, and she decided to rent a room near us in order to see us when she could and when we could see her. And, it was during this time that I was first unable to get school fees. I thank God that I was smart in the class, and the head teacher offered me a scholarship to study for free after he learned what was happening in our home.

My mother was allowed back in the house when she became very weak. At this time I was in primary grade 5. On Wednesday, May 9th 2001 she passed away. Though it was very hard, I found the courage to go on with school until I finished my primary education in 2002.

I did very well with my primary school examination and I was selected to join the St. James Seminary for ordinary level secondary education (2003-2006). School fees for secondary are high, ten times higher than primary level. Because I knew that I didn’t have this kind of money, I started to lose hope of going on with school and tried to think of what I could do to raise income for my smaller brothers and sister. Fortunately, one of the neighbors came to me and took me to KIWAKKUKI to speak to the orphan’s department. The officers there took the time to listen to me and to verify my story, and they then agreed to pay for my school fees.

The help from KIWAKKUKI assisted me to finish my ordinary secondary school, where I did my national exam and did very well. Thus, I was selected to attend Galanos Secondary High School for Advanced Level Education. The school fees were approximately the same, and therefore KIWAKKUKI continued to support me. I finished my advanced degree in February 2009, passed my exams well and was selected to attend University.

I am now at the Moshi University College of Co-operative and Business Studies (MUCCoBS) taking a Bachelor of Arts and Microfinance and Enterprises Development. (BA-MFED) My registration number is BA-MFED/06/09.

Throughout the time I have been in school, I have wanted to become a business entrepreneur, and had thought about the different activities in which I could be come involved. This has been ever since I was a young child. But life has become much more difficult now. University fees, accommodation and meals are all very expensive. I joined the university in October 2009 and have finished the first year. However, I was only able to pay 15% of the first year as that is the maximum that KIWAKKUKI can donate. The university fees and expenses are above KIWAKKUKI’s budget for one person.

In order for me to go on with my studies in October this year I am supposed to pay for the remainder of last year and at least 40% of next year.

I am writing this story with a lot of tears, asking anyone who might listen or think that they can help me. I beg your assistance your advice, your courage and anything that you might find to assist me. Education is the only think that I have now, and my only hope to save my family. My father is gone, we don’t know where, and I am the final one who is expected to help out.


Peter Ancelim Amani

These are the direct words of a young man who came to KIWAKKUKI to discuss ways of budgeting his college years. He lives in the Rau Ward of Moshi Urban, and walked about 5 miles to KIWAKKUKI because he didn’t have bus fare home. I am told that when he comes to KIWAKKUKI, he always offers to help clean or move heavy furniture or do odd jobs without even knowing whether or not he will receive any donation.

I am always impressed with the sincerity and work ethic that these young people have regarding school. This is something that we take for granted here. Primary and High School are free and there are loans and scholarships available for those persons with very low incomes. That is not the case here in Tanzania. In order to qualify for any assistance outside of non-governmental organizations, a young man has to score a grade level 1 on final exams at the college level, a young woman 1 or
2. (More young men are in school at this time than women). But here, is a young man who not only attends school but has to take care of his 3 younger siblings, one of whom has a disability due to the blindness in one eye. It almost seems impossible that he can succeed. Very few programs assist with University, especially when the father is alive, even if he is unwilling or unable to be located.

So I am writing this to ask for help for this young man. There are ways to donate to his school. One would be to donate directly to KIWAKKUKI using his name for college fees. (this way is fine except that it is not tax deductible because KIWAKKUKI is not a tax exempt organization recognized by the US Government. However, there are two other funds that are recognized and can take donations that can be sent directly for his assistance.

Global Connections For Change is a tax exempt organization in North Carolina that is connected with Duke University. All proceeds go to KIWAKKUKI. As well, the Duke CAB/Moshi Fund is another tax exempt code within Duke University that wires any designated money to Moshi for who ever we know is being sponsored.

The address for Global Connections is:
Global Connections for Change
PO Box 51162
Durham, NC 27717

For the Duke Fund is:
Duke/Moshi CAB Fund
Box 3112 DUMC
Durham, NC 27710
Attn: Artie Hendricks

You may also contact me at my gmail
As you can see, this is a dedicated man, and one who will do anything to help himself and his family. I hope you will offer help.


KIWAKKUKI Hang On to Your Hats!

Some of the KIWAKKUKI staff at lunch with John and me.
KIWAKKUKI is always a “hold your breath” moment. Something is always happening, but you don’t know what it will be until you walk in the door. Will there be workshops and everyone gone? Will there be people on leave? Will there be a grant deadline and you are suddenly the one who has to edit and send? What will it be? This visit was a mixture. All the bags of shoes and clothes that we dragged through Europe, overweight as they were, made it in tact to our A-5 home. Once five bags were divvied up, it seemed so small! As my dada (sister) Verynice made piles for the 7 districts I thought—well every district will get at least 4 T-shirts, 1 hoodie, 3 pair of tennis shoes, ½ pr of boys shoes, 3 pair of girls shoes, 2 pair of jeans, 2 small dresses, 2 large dresses. Wow-I think. How did those huge bags become so small? As I was unpacking the bags, I learn that one of my favorite projects is coming to a stunning grinding halt. The economy has caused the Spanish Government to pull the plug on Life and Living. This was a program that moved KIWAKKUKI beyond HIV alone towards helping young people learn about how to have sustainable work, the value of work, clean water, growing food, while at the same time teaching prevention and issues about delaying sex and HIV/TB. Yet, this program suddenly ends and all the staff will be given notices. These guys are dedicated, top notch young people who loaded up the car with materials day after day, and went to schools and meeting places to work with clubs and district and ward leaders to bring groups and clubs together to plan sustainable, healthy lives, pulled whoosh! Did I see tears from these workers? No, they are hopeful that something will happen. Surely it will, because they have really given their hearts to this project. Yet there is something distinctly East African in saying, “If God wills it”.

My dada and I headed out to the rural hills to find sweet Jacinta and the head master of her school who had taken her into his family to live. It was a dusty day as usual & we had near death experiences with speeding trucks and dala dalas.

It is Wednesday afternoon school sports day in Kirua and "football" is the place to be.

It is Market day in Kirua and people have been drinking mbege (banana beer) as they sell their corn and bananas and millet.
(I had never seen millet on the plant)
We tread carefully. We arrive at the school hopeful to find Jacinta and the headmaster with whom she lives, but we find that his wife had died just this morning, and he had gone home with Jacinta. After pondering carefully, we decided that we knew the headmaster well enough to pay respects.

What did I expect of this headmaster’s house. He runs a small private school. He always looks immaculately dressed. I expected a Shantytown fancy house. What we found was a small house down a long steep path (only on foot) that was mostly sticks and mud that had one small cinderblock area with a small living room, two rooms off from that. Outdoor toilets, some other living rooms with stick and mud. Our headmaster looked as if he had lost 20 lbs. He sat with another friend on the traditional stools outside. From inside came the wails of his oldest daughter who had stayed at KCMC for the last night with her mother. Dada Monyo and I did our best to express our condolences. We heard the story of the death of a dear wife and mother. We heard from this wonderful man, the conversation with the KCMC doctor who offered the family the possibility of letting the wife go without pain. For many families, agreeing to pain management rather than treatment is impossible. This man loved his wife enough to let her go. Wow. We brought Jacinta up the hill to talk to her. She looked great. She was sad, but said that she loved school and loved being with new friends and being able to be a teenager, not a wife. (You might remember from previous blogs, that Jacinta had run away from her grandfather’s home after she found that as soon as she graduated from Primary School at the age of 12, she had been sold to be married to an old man.) The whole trip was one of sadness and hope.

As we moved down the mountain to visit Judith, we found another situation altogether. We met with Judy’s grandmother, an aunt and two children in a desolated area of immense poverty down another long footpath. Judith had just left and her grandmother didn’t know where. When we reached her mother, we learned that Judy had been sick repeatedly and had to stop going to school because she was getting so far behind. Now it will be impossible for her to pass her exams, she will have to repeat. Additionally, her CD4 count has dropped below 200 and she has been sick off and on. Their house fell during the rainy season, and they have been allowed to live in one small room with the grandmother-4 of them while her mother tries to support the family by selling used clothes and shoes.

Judy had gone to Arusha to stay for a short while with a relative who could offer her a warmer place to stay, but she could only be there for a week or two at the most and would return. She waited for us to come until the last dala dala left for Arusha and thought we wouldn’t be coming. Of course, she couldn’t have known about the tragedy just above her in Kirua. We talked to Judy’s mother about the need for Judy to start going to the Child Centered Family Care Center at KCMC and to return to school even for catch up. We made a plan that she should repeat her grade so that she could pass her exams, and have faith that she is cared for by her donors Kathy and Candy. Her mother sent her huge thanks for our visit, even though we weren’t able to talk to Judy. We were unable to take any pictures because we were right beside the mosque, and would give a bad perception to the worshipers.

(Judith in better days)
We returned from our trip, weary, sad, disappointed, and worried. Will Jacinta be able to remain at the headmaster’s now that his wife has died or will it “look” bad. Will the headmaster return to his position? This happy joyful young woman has no idea of the potential pain lying ahead. Will Judy’s family get a new roof for their sticks and mud house? Will Judy actually go to KCMC? How can she improve her CD4 count, go to school and stay healthy?

KIWAKKUKI has hundreds of these children, each with their own stories. I can only be involved with a few. It is a privilege and a curse. As a social worker for more than 30 years, I have seen my share of misery and tragedy, what KIWAKKUKI adds to my portfolio, is a little more understanding of the human condition.