Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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A month ago I wrote a blog about my home visit to Mary and her family. Today I was fortunate enough to see them moved in to their new home. Before they were living in a dingy one room house, with a foam "mattress" acting as a bed and an assortment of pots, dishes, and clothing decorating the floor. Now they are settled in to a two room home with tiled floors (sort of, it is more of just a covering for the cement but definitely a step up), real mattresses, sheets, pillows, and electricity!

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In the last month, since I have last talked about Mary, she has had many health issues to deal with and been in and out of the hospital. This is due to her sickle cell anemia. It was a close call but she is on the mend.

I should also mention, speaking of health, that Upendo has been recently tested for HIV/AIDS. Mary, who has contracted the disease, was breast feeding her until about 6 weeks ago. So there was a huge chance that baby Upendo would get sick as well. But all the tests have come back negative so far!! Very, very good news.

Because of her poor health the children have been living with neighbors and friends of the family. Denis, her 5 year old has been staying with Mama Olivia, a woman who works at Jipe Moyo, one of our CCS placements. We got to go and see him today and bring him to the family's new home. Seeing him again was just what I needed. He has the sweetest spirit and his smile steals your heart. I can not explain the joy that little boy brought me today. Despite everything he has been through in his short life, his smile still reaches his eyes and he trusts without hesitation. Clinging like a little monkey, he loves to be hugged.

Denis is very underdeveloped for his age, as are the other children in the family. Upendo is 11 pounds underweight and her older brother Shedrack, whom I met today, is 14 but appears to be 9 or 10. He has also been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, like his mother, and has not developed at a normal pace.

Denis has been slow to develop mentally as well. He has yet to be enrolled in school, as I have mentioned previously, and therefore is talking very little and does not know what most 5 year olds are expected to know. Yet he still remains very interactive and picks up on things very easily. I know that if he was given the chance he would succeed.

Therefore, my roommate Susan and I have been working with the family to find a school for him to attend. Last Friday, I went to Jipe Moyo (where they orchestrate the home visits) in order to visit the schools in the area of Majengo (the village where Mary lives). Mary wants Denis to attend a local day school and we want nothing more than that as well. He deserves the opportunity to learn and thrive.

We found a school called Saint Louis, about a 15 minute walk from the new house, which makes it easily accessible. It is a private catholic school. Amani, a founder of Jipe Moyo said that it is the school with the best reputation in the area and that it has very good facilities. We met with the administration and were able to discuss Denis's enrollment. He starts July 11 after the current break is over :)

I am so excited for him and hope that he is happy there. He is so smart that I do not doubt his capabilities. However, I do worry about how far behind he is and how that will effect his presence in the classroom. But this little amazing boy who had no chance at education is now on his way to new opportunities. People say that education is one of the keys to development and sustainability. I agree. I am happy that the family has this chance:)

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Since I am leaving in 5 days I had to say goodbye to the family today. I hope that I see them again in the future. Not really a goodbye, just see you later. I would love to visit Tanzania again!


Hope you are all doing well!! See you soon! xoxo

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