Back in Musoma, with renewed hope - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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December 2020 newletter

Kevin and Marilyn McDonough, Tanzania

St. Justin’s children are lined up to draw water from the 5,000-liter tank for their showers and washing. A new pump supplies water from Lake Victoria.

We returned to California in late March, due to Covid issues worldwide, and then subsequently returned back to our work in Musoma, Tanzania, in mid-September.

It goes without saying that this time in California, with varying degrees of government-imposed lockdown, was surreal, to say the least.

The good part was that we were able to get re-connected with our family — under virus restrictions of course. The bad part was that we suddenly left all our work that was underway for the Diocese of Musoma and for the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.

Now that we have been back at work in Musoma for over two months, we are happy to say that our Tanzanian colleagues here welcomed us back with open arms and our work has resumed. We now are both involved with more tasks and challenges than before we left, and the pace of work is significant. We did not want retirement, and we certainly got what we asked for.

They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle’s wings;
They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint (Isaiah 40:3).


From Marilyn:

Hope is all around me here in Musoma. When coronavirus hit the nation, President Magufuli asked all of the people — Muslims, Catholics, Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventists, etc. to go to their places of worship to pray. The president asked them to pray for three days, asking God for help, and then for three days, thanking God for His help. Many, many people did this. Scientists will give you a number of reasons why coronavirus is not a big problem in Tanzania — a young population, much of the time spent outdoors, etc., but the people just believe that God answered their prayers. Their hope and trust is in God.

Early in the morning, I hear hope as I walk to St. Justin Centre. A young woman is working in the fields and singing as she hoes. I see hope in the eyes and hearts of the mothers who rely on St. Justin Centre for help with their children who have disabilities.

Mama Moshi with six of her nine children, Sister Catherine and Marilyn during a home visit to Mama Moshi’s house

The staff at St. Justin Centre do outreach to isolated villages to find children who may need our services. Recently Stephano, Sister Catherine, and I went to visit a mother named Moshi, who has nine children. We walked over some rough terrain to get from where the driver left us to Moshi’s place.

Moshi can braid hair and make maandazi (doughnuts) to sell, but with the floods and the coronavirus she has not made much money this year. The family lives in abject poverty. The father abandoned them. Her 15-year-old daughter, Esther, has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. Moshi has never had any help with Esther. Our mission was to determine what kind of services we could provide.

After much discussion, we decided to help the family with insurance so that Esther could be seen by a doctor and get medicine for her seizures. St. Justin Centre will continue to provide support and encouragement to the family. I heard no complaints from Moshi about her difficult life, but I think she was left with some hope for the future. Every day I am thankful for the hope that St. Justin’s Centre gives.


From Kevin:

I am continuing to work in many areas where business and accounting/financial management help is needed: The Diocese of Musoma bookshop retail management, implementation of accounting software in the diocese’s 29 schools and business management at the diocesan conference and shopping center. For the IHSA Sisters, I do accounting training and projects.

Finally, I help Marilyn with children’s activities once a week at St. Justin’s Center for disabled children. I also recently completed a solar-powered water pump and a 5,000-liter tank project that now supplies water from Lake Victoria to the 100 children and staff at the St. Justin’s Centre. In addition, this solar-powered water pump and storage facility provides irrigation water to the center’s 1.5-acre garden, where sorely needed vegetables for the center are grown. Access to water sustains life and brings hope.

I have seen hope all around me in Musoma, and if you open your eyes and ears, it is very humbling and educational. In everyday work life, people are doing jobs with a severe dearth of resources and with no complaints at all.

Tanzanians deal positively with the reality in front of them and make small steps daily to have hope for the future. I pass by a street vendor daily who does not have use of his lower legs and he provides shoe repair services to all the neighbors under a flimsy plastic tarp, rain or shine. He always has a big, wide smile when I greet him as I pass by. He is so inspirational and gives hope to the rest of us.


Marilyn and Kevin McDonough
Kevin and Marilyn McDonough serve as Maryknoll lay missioners with the Diocese of Musoma and the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa in Musoma, Tanzania.