Summer 2021 newsletter
Kevin and Marilyn McDonough, Tanzania
We are now in our third year in Musoma, Tanzania. We have formed many friendships and working relationships with all the people we live and work with every day. One does not live these experiences without being changed and transformed. Thankfully we have been able to stay reasonably healthy. As always, we cannot help but be humbled by the amazing people we live and work with.
I continue to have a busy schedule and often long days as I work with many of the Musoma diocese’s business enterprises and schools on financial performance, management structure and business software. I work with the diocese’s bookshop, shopping complex and conference center, several diocesan schools, St. Justin’s Centre for Children with Disabilities and the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa here in Musoma.
Thankfully all the projects that I have completed are continuing to operate well and sustainably. As we have worked in Musoma for some time, we now have established a network of contacts and colleagues that we can draw upon to get things done and deal with various challenges that occur daily. The work I do at St. Justin’s is especially poignant as the need there is almost overwhelming and these children deserve food, shelter, care and the opportunity to learn skills to survive in this world.
Six new students have arrived at St. Justin’s in recent months. One of the new students is 6-year-old Bahati. He is the youngest of six children and was born without arms. His father ran away three months after Bahati was born. Bahati stayed inside his house most of the time. One day Bahati told his mother that he could feed himself. Remarkably, he learned to feed himself and drink out of a cup using his feet.
His mother did not know that he could attend school. One day a member of parliament heard about him and visited the family and told them about St. Justin’s. The mother brought Bahati to St. Justin’s the next day for a visit. Even though they lived far away, Bahati refused to go back home. He said he wanted to go to school. Mama had no change of clothes for him, but the staff found some and he stayed.
We are very thankful that he found St. Justin’s. Bahati seems to be very bright. His conversation is way beyond his years, and he makes careful observations about others. He continually surprises me. He quickly became popular with the other children. He loves to play and sometimes gives another child a light kick to get them to chase him. I have every hope that he will have a successful life.
I especially want to thank the generous donors who enabled us to get wheelchairs for five needy children (see top photo on first page). They are Pamba, Tatu, Joshua, Marondi, and Esther. Marondi and Esther are not able to attend St. Justin’s, but they are part of our outreach program. We visit the families in our outreach program regularly to provide suggestions and support.
John, the fundi (skilled worker) who made the wheelchairs, is also disabled. He is now making special bicycles for Joshua and Tatu that they can pedal with their hands. This will help them develop hand and arm strength and allow them to move independently.
We have a Tuesday afternoon activity program to give the children another opportunity for sports and games. We recently added an additional educational component. Mwalimu Maiga (one of the sign language teachers) said that some of the hearing-impaired children were having difficulty learning to tell time and changing money. He fashioned two large clocks out of cardboard for a session on time. The next week, we set up 10 “shops” in the dining hall. The shops sold fruit, vegetables, dishes, pencils, notebooks, biscuits, and candy. I printed pretend money like Tanzanian money.
One child practiced being the seller and one practiced being the buyer. The children practiced making change with the different amounts of money. We did this for 2 weeks. The children especially liked being able to buy candy.
At the end of the term, we had a two-day seminar for the parents of the hearing-impaired children. We discussed children’s rights and spent several hours teaching Tanzanian Sign Language. In addition, each family was given a sign language book to take home. It is crucial for these parents to be able to communicate with their children.
Again, thank you to everyone who has supported our mission work, the children of St. Justin’s and the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa. We are so blessed to be in Tanzania and work with such extraordinary people. We pray for you every day and I hope that you will keep us in your prayers also.
Blessings to all,
Kevin and Marilyn