Summer 2021 newsletter
Kevin and Marilyn McDonough, Tanzania
We are now completing our third year in Musoma, Tanzania, and are being transformed and humbled by the amazing people we live and work with. Thankfully, we are continuing to be productive and stay healthy.
Every week is a bit different here in Musoma, while the pace and scope of work has been increasing with the various diocesan institutions. I work on improving business operations and accountability. Time has flown by, and our contract with Maryknoll Lay Missioners ends in May 2022. I am now working on training and developing plans with the people I work with to carry on the work we have started so the transition goes well after we depart Tanzania.
My work is spread out among the diocesan bookshop, the shopping complex, the conference center, individual diocesan schools, St. Justin’s Centre for Children with Disabilities, and the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.
The work I do with St. Justin’s Centre in finance, business development and sustainability and accounting is especially poignant as the need is almost overwhelming. These children deserve food, shelter, care, education and the opportunity to learn skills to survive in this world. When you help these most vulnerable children and improve the financial stability of St. Justin’s Centre, you can see the immediate impact of your efforts. I really enjoy just hanging out with all the children and staff at St. Justin’s.
Every day that I am here in Tanzania, I am awed by the spirit, the perseverance and the positive attitude of the children of St. Justin’s Centre.
One such student is 19-year-old Josepha. Both of her parents died from AIDS when she was young. After primary school, Josepha passed the exam to qualify for secondary school. However, her health soon took a turn for the worse. She was born with sickle cell anemia and almost died in the hospital during a sickle crisis. Her leg became infected, and she required an above-the-knee amputation. Then she went to live with her older sister, and their house collapsed during the rainy season. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Next, she joined St. Justin’s Centre to learn sewing skills.
Last November on Siku ya Walemavu (Day for People with Disabilities), a European organization partnered with an orthopedic clinic in Mwanza to make a prosthetic device at a reduced price for any child who visited on a certain day. Stephano (our assistant director) got appointments for Josepha and Sungura (another amputee).
Unfortunately, when they arrived, we found out that there was not enough money to cover all the cost for prostheses for above the knee amputations. They said we would need to pay $300 total. Fortunately, we had enough money in our donor account to cover the cost. It took many months to make the prostheses because supplies are now scarce in Tanzania due to the pandemic.
Finally, the doctor was able to get the materials from Uganda, and in July both students were fitted with their prosthetic devices. They are now able to walk around very well. Since January, Josepha has been taking sewing lessons at St. Justin’s. Her health has stabilized, and the staff are hopeful that one day she can teach sewing at St. Justin’s. She is very bright and a quick learner.
On August 8, the students celebrated Nane Nane (this is the day to celebrate the farmer). The children gave presentations on soil and how to make a plant irrigator. They had a debate on the importance of agriculture vs. the importance of business. (A hearing student translated for the hearing impaired.) There was much dancing and drums and good food to eat. We especially wanted to celebrate this day as the students work hard in the school garden, and many will eventually return home to help on the family farm.
On September 10, we had a celebration for the nine students who completed the Primary School Standard 7 final exam. Some of them will continue to secondary school, others will get vocational training, and some will return to their families. Tears came to my eyes when I saw the children walk under the graduation arch fashioned by the Sisters. I am thankful every day that there is a special place like St. Justin’s for these children.
May God bless all of you as we are blessed to be working here. We are thankful for your support.
Kevin and Marilyn