Lent 2021 newletter
Kevin and Marilyn McDonough, Tanzania
We have been back in Musoma since September 2020 and have been fully engaged in our various roles here. We are busier than ever here, and the pace of work seems to be increasing as well. The weeks seem to fly by.
Thankfully we have been in reasonably good health, apart from a recent bout with colds.
We have heard from many reports that a second wave of COVID-19 has taken root in Tanzania in all the larger urban areas. There are also anecdotal reports of the virus in Musoma as well. We will do our best to be safe while maintaining our various job responsibilities in the places where we work. We are avoiding crowded gatherings of people and other safety precautions.
I am extremely busy with jobs going on in many places at the same time. Work at the bookshop continues quite well as the changes we implemented in 2019 are continuing with the local staff handling all matters. I converted the shop to Quickbooks software, which is easier and cheaper to sustain. Now that we are about 15 months from the end of our Maryknoll Lay Missioners contracts, my major objective is to put systems and practices in place that can be sustained long after we leave Musoma.
I continue financial management work at the diocese conference center and shopping center as well as Quickbooks implementation at an outlying primary school. I have now taken on another responsibility, which is installation of Quickbooks and financial systems at St. Justin’s Center for Disabled Children. This implementation is going very well as the staff at St. Justin’s are learning and adapting to this quickly.
The main theme in all my work has been implementing financial management structures, transparency and accountability so that these businesses can grow profitably over the long term. In addition, in all these sites I have been driving the effort to modernize the physical buildings, internet connectivity, work flows etc.
I am dividing my time between the Immaculate Heart Sisters in Makoko (library, wellness center and infirmary) and St. Justin’s Centre for Children with Disabilities. There is always so much work to do. Each day is a new opportunity.
We are getting more students at St. Justin’s each week. One of our newest students is Joshua. He is actually 10 years old, but he is the size of a 2-3 year old child. Joshua has a ready laugh, likes to draw and count and loves music. He is a “normal child”, but I believe he has a type of osteogenesis imperfecta, “brittle-bone disease” (we do not have an actual diagnosis from a medical doctor).
Joshua started school last year in a regular primary school, but he had to be transported by piki-piki motorcycle since the school was a long distance and he missed too many days of school due to broken bones. The school authorities suggested that he come to live at St. Justin’s Centre since Nyrigamba School is nearby.
One of the first nights at St. Justin’s, Joshua fell out of the bed and broke his arm. (He had only slept on a mat at home). We decided to use money from our mission account (about $250) to have a special small bunk bed made for Joshua and our 4-year-old student Aloyce. There are sides on the bed with a little gate that Joshua can open and close. Now, the boys are safe, and they have their own special place to sleep.
Kevin and I are working very hard to help St. Justin’s with their many needs. Five children need wheelchairs with tray tables ($250 each). A little money goes a long way in Tanzania.
We are very grateful to the many of you who have contributed to our mission account.
On Valentine’s Day, we spent the afternoon with the children at St. Justin’s. All of the children love to dance. We had popcorn, groundnuts (peanuts), mandazi (doughnuts) and soda. The children had so much fun, and Kevin said it was the best Valentine’s Day he had ever had. The children at St. Justin’s really capture our hearts.
May God bless all of you now and throughout the 2021 year!