Melon Harvest

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Compassion International (at least in Tanzania) has been providing training for their social workers to better equip parents to increase their incomes. Generating more income is arguably the best way to fight poverty. A little more income can make a big difference in the homes of the children Compassion serves.

At the Moravian center, our friend Julius taught workshops about business, then encouraged a group of parents to come up with a project. They chose to plant melons (matunda). The Compassion Center provided the land and water from their new well.

Last week they harvested, hired a little truck, and took them to the big concrete factory just north of town to sell to people getting off work there, who have more money than most.

500 melons harvested and sold. Planting again soon.




Letter Writing

Pictured: Sabrina is smiling in the center, Agnes (to her left) is one of the children sponsored by The Robbins. The others also writing include: Salma, Shasta, Abdulazack, and Shadya.

Pictured: Sabrina is smiling in the center, Agnes (to her left) is one of the children sponsored by The Robbins. The others also writing include: Salma, Shasta, Abdulazack, and Shadya.

Julius shared a video today of some of the children writing letters to their sponsor family. I love being able to picture where Sabrina was when she crafted her latest doodles for our refrigerator.

The letters are a surprisingly meaningful part of the Compassion relationship. These are what put a face on the sponsorship in each direction. When we first arrived at the Compassion center in 2016 and met “the Social Worker” (Julius), he was most excited about showing us the notebooks he keeps. On simple shelves in a small room with one window, he has a three-ring binder for each student with their number on the spine. Inside are their health records from annual check ups, and the originals of all the letters they’ve sent or received.

Before seeing that notebook, I remember being impressed that MJ ever found time to write a few notes to this child we had no hope of ever meeting. But when I opened the binder, in that hot little room, diligently organized by Julius, MJ’s brief letters on the paper Compassion provided to us struck me as miraculous. What are the odds of a woman in Asheville connecting to and caring for this one little girl, in a small village with no pavement, 8000 miles away? What are the odds Sabrina would grow up, being thankful for some woman in America, providing a scholarship for her to (of all things) attend school on Saturdays?

The content didn’t matter much. The miracle of the letters is in being noticed and responding. It’s in taking a minute, maybe two, for MJ to write “we love you” or for Sabrina to doodle a palm tree, and send it away to this person you will probably never meet, to tell them you care about them.

Neema

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

Neema is six years old. She lives with her parents and sleeps with her young sister Kamila. Neema is very bright in my class. She likes mathematics subject. She has a vision to be a pilot. She likes net ball. Her mother played football competitively and went to Europe with her women’s football team.

note: Netball is a bit like basketball without dribbling played on a field or court. (Some highlights on YouTube.)

Asha

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She is Asha Kuwala. She has ten years old. She is the only child to her parents. She is dreaming about being a nurse. English is her favorite subject. Her Father is a local carpenter who makes chairs. Her mother is a fish monger, taking fish from the docks, roasting them, and then selling.

Fadhira

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She is Fadhira Hussein. She is seven years old, and she likes chips as her best food. She's dreaming to be a doctor and she told me she will work hard to put her dream true.  Her parents have three children and Fadhira is the second born.  She's happy with their life, however there is not much good. Her father is a watchman of a shop,  he works during the night.

note: what we call french fries, she calls chips -- part of the British influence here. 

Sabrina

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She's Sabrina Mpatikene. She's in class three and she like biology. Her interest is to draw pictures and her favorite food is rice. She's living with her father and step-mother, however it is common for the step-mother to be cruel to the children but this is quite different,  since her mother treats the whole children equal, and Sabrina is happy being a family member. In her family they are five,  two children and one aunt who sleeps with Sabrina and her parents. Her vision is to be a teacher, however it can be dynamic since as the children grow the nature corrupts their dreams.  I keep on praying for her for the goodness on her life.

Gladness

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She's Gladness Gilbert, and she is ten years old. She hopes to be a nurse and she likes science subjects. She has a good behavior. Her extended family has seven members, but to her mother they are two and she is the first born. To her father she is the second born following her brother and young sister from her step mother (her father had two wives but now he has single wife.) 

Her mother has no job to do. Her father was a boda boda driver (motorcycle taxi.) Unfortunately he got into an accident and his legs broke up. Now somehow he is recovering  and he is working as assistant tailor so that he can get something to feed his family. However her mother lamented with great grief saying that it is common to them to eat nothing during a lunch. Hearing that I felt merciful. Anyways I gave them what I had.  

Thank your for this chance. It made me communicate with the Director of the Compassion Center for more consideration to this needy family.

My comment to Gladness was that she has to study hard so to rescue her family.

Anitha

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She is Anitha Fenias Linyama. Her family is Christian. She is nine year old and is the second born to her family. Her sister is in the village with her grandma and grandpa. Their house is built on a hill. Anitha have a dream of being a teacher. The distance from compassion to their home is one kilometer while the distance from her primary school to home is two kilometers and a half. Her parents are happy with the behavior portrayed by their daughter. The subject she likes most is mathematics. I advised her parents to keep her on track to reach her dream.

Anitha's best friend is Waridi.

Waridi

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

She is named Waridi Uwesu.

She is the second born to her family.  She sleeps with her young sister.  She prefers eating rice.  The subject she likes best is mathematics (hesabu) and for sure she is good with the subject. Her mother is a fish monger so she lives away from her children and Waridi lives with her grandmother. The distance from the Compassion Center to their home is one kilometer with high elevation. And the distance from her primary school to her house is three kilometers.  Her best friend is Anitha Linyama.  I learned many things about Waridi by visiting her home.

Note - If you're wondering what life is like for a fish monger, our friend Daniel posted this snapshot from one part of the day for a few women selling fish in the market. 

Noshadi

A friend in Mtwara offers this update on one of the children from the Compassion International Student Center where Missio members sponsor more than 100 children. 

His name is Noshadi Ismail Manyereto. 

He is the first born to his mother and the third born to his father. He has a sister and brother from his step mother, and one young sister and brother from his mother. He is nine years old. His interest is to play football.  He sleeps with his brother.  His Father is a farmer who lives away from his family.  His mother is a tailor who carries the burden of caring for the whole family (extended family) without support from her husband.  She was lamenting for that character portrayed from her husband.

Noshadi is a good footballer among our students. He has attended several matches planned in our center. He likes making exercise through race competition. He is a Simba spectator.

note: Noshadi is a fan of the Simba Sports Club, one of the two big football (soccer) clubs in Tanzania. And "Simba" really is the Kiswahili word for Lion.

Health Screenings

Yesterday the students went through their annual health screening. This is a general physical exam, height and weight to check for malnutrition, vision and hearing tests, blood test to screen for common problems and so on. Over decades of research Dr. Heck has arrived at a short list of essential screening tests for children in developing economies. When we shared that list with Wema at the Compassion center, she showed us the chart of one of the children, demonstrating that they routinely administer all of these tests. Just one more way Compassion is an amazing organization.  

Jordan / Timber Worker

This post is part of our series on Work In Mtwara, to accompany the sermons on The Other Six. Photos above and narrative below by our friend Daniel, from his interview with Jordan.  

Jordan is working in timber production. He is an expert but works part time. He is happy saying that here in Mtwara there are only a few people capable of producing timber with a chainsaw. He is not the owner of the chainsaw, but the boss who bought the tree rents the chainsaw to him. He carefully sharpens the saw to ensure clean cutting.

The challenge is that there are few trees for timber production. This leads them to find any trees they can, even if they are not hard enough for timber, such as mango tree or coconut tree.  They are forced to use these though they are not preferred. 
He mistook me for a government officer and asked me to please tell the government “we need to work. We need the government to bring varieties of trees for timber production.” He means, they need to hire an agriculture expert to research the best kind of trees to grow in Mtwara for use as timber.

Mzee Ahmad / Market Seller

This post is part of our series on Work In Mtwara, to accompany the sermons on "The Other Six." Video above and narrative below by our friend Daniel, from his interview with Mzee.  

Mzee Ahmad is an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience. He is very happy and he is a charming trader who makes his neighbors happy.  I asked him why he is happy and he said to me, "My grandson, I like jokes, my business pays, I am running my life without being dependent on anyone.” Again he mentioned many positive contributions which emanate from his business: he has built a good house and owns five acres which are planted with cashew trees (korosho).
 

Almas & Joshua / Motorcycle Mechanics

Daniel writes:

Almas and Joshua have been trained as mechanics by their brother who works about an hour north of Mtwara in the city of Lindi. Having many customers makes it possible for them to run their life here in Mtwara town.

Here, their origin story doesn't begin with capital but with an investment of time from a brother willing to share marketable skills. Motorcycle taxis, called boda bodas, are the cheapest form of point-to-point transport. Their work keeps the boda bodas running, which enable many people to get things done. But in telling their story to Daniel, they emphasize it is their customers who make possible the lives they live.  

James / School Supplies

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Daniel writes: 

This picture is of James. He is working as a machinga (street vendor.) He got his capital from his Uncle and started this business long ago. The business of selling books is very important during the beginning of the school year. Many schools open on Monday (January 8) and many students need exercise books, pencil, pen. This is a good month to sell things for school. He is trying to get more capital so can  expand and get a shop of his own. In other times of the year he sells clothes, mirrors, combs, handkerchiefs, dolls, watches and other commodities. 

The equator passes through Tanzania, but most of the country is in the southern hemisphere so our winter is their summer. For primary and secondary school, the new year beings in January. (For college, they follow the European model of school years starting in September.) 

In many of his interviews people share with Daniel 1) what they do, 2) where they got a little bit of money to get going, and 3) what they hope to do as soon as they can get a little more. In this economy, getting a job often requires starting a small business. 

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Fish Market

Daniel writes:

I had a conversation with four women, dealing with fish selling. This is Halima,  Sophia, Mwanagulani, and Subira. They buy from the fishmongers and prepare by removing the hard  skin cover of the fish and roast in cooking oil. Then they put into basin ready for selling.

Mtwara is a coastal city, and boats arrive each day with freshly caught fish. A few miles from Mtwara's big fish market, these women are selling cooked fish near the main bus station. 

The row of sellers in such bright fabrics reminds of the salt sellers in the Kenyan movie Queen of Katwe. I love that this brief video provides a glimpse of the community among the sellers, as well as a couple customers shopping for fish. The shoe salesman that comes by represents yet another part of retail commerce in Mtwara. 

Part of our Work in Mtwara, series in conjunction with our Faith & Work study: The Other Six.

Hassan / Builder

As Missio kicks off "The Other Six" a sermon series on Faith & Work, we are sharing a series of profiles on Work in Mtwara. Daniel, one of our friends there, has gathered photos, videos, and interviews to help us better understand what life and work are like in Mtwara, Tanzania. 

Daniel narrates the video. A transcript follows:

Hi my friend. My name is Daniel. The person to whom I have sent you a picture, his name is Hassan and he is a builder. The owner of this guest house (hotel) is fixing it up. Hassan mixes the mortar out front, then he carries it in the bucket to the worksite. This toilet in the guest room drains here to the septic tank. He was hired to build the chamber for the toilets. Hassan is building to cover the pipes. This job will take him almost one week.

Opportunities to Help

Our next trip to Mtwara is set for June 12-21 (click HERE to learn more about this trip). Much preparation is going on right now; check out how you can get involved without needing to travel! 

Medical Survey

On the June trip we hope to lay the foundation for a future Medical trip to Mtwara. Part of laying that foundation is getting a sense of the current medical services in the area. We’re not the first to have this question and it appears to my uneducated eyes that there are relevant journal articles available sharing the results of recent efforts to understand this region. We are looking for someone with the ability to conduct a lit review of medical journal articles to help our doctors, nurses, and PAs better understand conditions in this region.

Graphic Design

The cornerstone of our June trip is hosting workshops with the Nehemiah Project on starting businesses. The workshops make extensive use of workbooks which we have been working to get translated into Swahili. These workbooks have graphics which need to be redesigned with Swahili text. We need help with graphics ranging from flowchart style illustrations to icons to a cover.

Business Mentoring: Moris

Moris is one of the business owners we are encouraging in Mtwara. He currently runs a shop selling carvings which he buys from craftsmen in surrounding villages. He’d like to expand that business to help tourists see the best of his region. This tour business could benefit from a stronger web presence, some Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and clear offering of services. 

Gifts for the Compassion Center

We asked Wema, the center director, what kinds of things we could bring for the children. She was very humble in offering a few requests:

  • soccer balls
  • sports pinnies
  • keyboard
  • drawing colours (colored pencils)
  • plates
  • tailoring machines
  • a projector

A few of these we can take with us (e.g. pinnies) but the rest we should buy there if possible.

Monetary Gifts

In addition to helping us meet these needs, you can give financially. You can give by cash, check or online by designating your gifts to "Global Missions". Any monetary gifts designated “global missions” in the month of May will go straight to a small budget to help Wema purchase these things while we are there.

For more information about how you can help or to volunteer for these things, please email David Lindrum

Missio(n) to Tanzania June 2017

We’re booked! Sabrina McDonald, Thomson Meeks and David Lindrum are heading to Mtwara June 12-22, 2017.

We are working now to make the connections and preparations needed to:

Love on Compassion

  • Provide the center with some tangible sign of our love and support for them.
  • Visit the Compassion center on a Saturday to see it in full-swing, something we couldn’t see last time.

Support the Church & Provide Training for Pastors

  • Find Swahili books for the pastors while in Dar Es Salaam.
  • Worship with Pastor Sylvester’s church.
  • Lay the foundation for a potential medical trip from Missio in December.
  • Connect with Benjamin in the village to learn if and how MDC could best assist in evangelism.

Encourage Businesses

  • Support the Nehemiah project workshops and encourage Godly businesses to serve the commity
  • Connect with the entrepreneurs we are mentoring now, and meet those we’ll advise in coming months
  • Visit with the translators helping us and look for ways to strengthen and streamline the process.
  • Meet with community leaders to encourage connecting business people and sharing success stories.

If you’re interested in supporting any of these efforts, or have questions we might be able to get answered while there, please contact David Lindrum.