tuesday morning the nurse volunteers and i enjoy a visit to the kilimanjaro children’s foundation- a nursery school for the very poor, the orphans and street children in the community it serves.
the kilimanjaro orphanage was founded in 1997 by edward lazaro, better known as “teacher”, and later the nursery school was created – all a vision of his passion and heart to help orphans of AIDS and others that needed his help. although i have been here several times, today was the first time i have had the privilege to meet him – and indeed, he introduces himself as “teacher”. as he explains – i only have two hands. and with the hands of so many other people such as yourselves, i am able to help these children. it makes me cry just typing the words as his passion to help his people shines in his face, his eyes, his actions, his words. he is much younger than i would have imagined, as i know how much has been accomplished in the past 14-15 years. he has taken children into his home to care for them. he has paid for surgeries from his pocket, and like so many that i have met here – they do not operate from ego or their own needs. they operate from a place to build up others. how can we not respond from the heart when that is placed before us? his vision has been largely supported by donors in the US as well as from volunteers that come from organizations such as foot2afrika.
a retired physician from the US oversees the medical side of things, along with some local medical student assistance. however dr. greg (whom i met several months ago) is currently back in the states, anticipated to return in november. so there has been a bit of a gap recently. although our nurses will be doing basic health evaluations at two of our orphanage projects, we have been told that this nursery school may have some medical needs as a result of this interim gap, and so our purpose today is to determine what those might be and if we (the nurses, that is! ) can help.
aside from supplementing their first aid supplies at the school (which our nurse volunteers will do) he tells the story of some children that suffer from anemia, and in fact, one died just a few months ago from this. can you imagine – from anemia? something we do not have to even consider. but their diets are so nutritionally poor, this is a reality here. there are currently five children struggling with such conditions, at least one that is HIV positive. they do take an iron supplement but funding isn’t available always. our nurses suggest added vitamin c or oranges but families are too poor. after our visit, the nurses purchase enough iron supplement for the next month for the five children and are exploring the potential of purchasing and planting orange trees so that all of the children can enjoy healthy fruit. it is an enlightening meeting and we all hope that these small ways will help teacher and the children.
currently,there are over 200 children in this nursery school. during our few hours there, we enjoyed observing the ‘baby’ class learn numbers, then helping them with their writing assignments (as with any students, some did well, some were totally lost!). i slip over to another class and enjoy singing along with them during songs like “the wheels on the bus go round and round”!
after numbers class, they lined up for porridge break – this is often the only meal that some of the children will get for the day- and it’s a mug of porridge. they get their mug, go back to the porch, and sit quietly, waiting for their teacher to come and give the signal that it is okay to eat. they are precious!
the queue for porridge
here are more photos that i uploaded to the foot2afrika-tanzania facebook page (this is a public link so everyone should be able to view). you will catch a glimpse of the volunteers, more of the children, etc.
well it’s no secret that i love being here lol, and i am reflecting this morning on what i am grateful for today. however, since the power has been out all morning (it’s 10:15 am wednesday morning), i’m going to quickly finish this post with a few things, although it’s not a complete list. laptops have a limited battery after all.
- having the opportunity to work with people like margaret mponda, ‘teacher’ and others that give so much of themselves selflessly to help these children. i am always inspired by them.
- to be able to discover ways to help them in their causes, directly and indirectly (connecting them to resources, financial measures, ideas, emotional and spiritual support, friendship, whatever is needed).
- love meeting intelligent and talented young people from around the world who bring with them their own heart and soul, and willingly engage to help in their chosen project (it is awesome to watch them shop, create a idea of support, fall in love with the children and open their eyes and heart to new realities and perspectives).
- discovering for my own self new ways to give and shine, and grow. every day delivers a new lesson to learn. sometimes patience. sometimes cracking your heart open just a bit wider. sometimes boundaries. sometimes joy or perhaps frustration at the burdens people must bear.
- that my health is holding up so far, even though many of the others have been struggling with various respiratory illnesses (colds, allergies, what not). my immune system is protective thus far. and i popped a calf muscle yesterday sprinting across the street to avoid a car, gimping me up, but i am thankful that we have an occupational therapist in the volunteer pool that was very helpful in working on the muscle. (it was dumb on my part, i just ‘took off’ wrong and heard and felt the POP, you know what i mean?). i will have to take it easy a few days so it can heal up.
well, that battery indicator is getting low, so must finish this and check a few emails before powering down. wishing you all a fabulous day, whatever you are doing. find a way to connect to your heart and do a nice thing for yourself and for someone else, even if it’s a small thing. nakupende! XXXOOO
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
(Saint Francis of Assisi )