Archive for the 'Moshi, Tanzania' Category



St. Timothy’s Update

by Lucia Crenshaw

looking+at+plans

When I wrote you the last blog, I said that I thought things were about to get moving really fast, and I sit here today, exactly one month after breaking ground on the school, completely blown away by just how fast they have gotten moving.

The new school, two months ago just a barren piece of land, is now a completed foundation, and the beginning stages of the exterior walls. So, needless to say, the past month has been extremely busy.

The more time I am here, the more I am aware of things that I take for granted—things both learned and observed. When it comes to the school, I have realized just how reliant I am on technology to build and cultivate things, and how here, almost everything is done by hand. This might not seem like a “no-brainer”—Africa is behind the times when it comes to technology. But after watching the progress of this school, I am starting to wonder if we are not the ones who are in fact “lagging behind in terms of development,” and by development, I mean actually building something from the ground up.

Building

In the past month, I have witnessed exactly this—a building process that is tedious; however, it is beyond resourceful and it involves the whole community. Neighbors store and guard the building supplies; women cook lunches and bring them to the site; and local masons combine their skill and expertise in such a way as to make it look effortless. Many of the workers are members of the community with whom Tanzania Children Concern does outreach with—some are masons who have worked on the current orphanage, others are parents of some of the students. I guess for all of these reasons and more, that is why I get the feeling that this project goes deeper than bricks and mortar. It is a true community project—designed by, built by, and sustained by the community that it will serve.

Tanzania Children Concern has been trying to build this school for over 5 years, but due to financial restraints, they have been unable to do so. James says that this past spring, he received a letter saying that St. Timothy’s must register (which means build a school) as soon as possible, and at the time, he had no idea what they were going to do. He then said, “I can’t believe that I am getting to witness this (the building of the school) in my lifetime! I am just so overjoyed; I can’t wait!” I am right there with James—I feel privileged to be a part of this!

To read more of my personal stories from St. Timothy’s check out my blog:
Luciacrenshaw.blogspot.com

James Nathaniel, St. Timothy’s is a refuge

This is a video of James Nathaniel, the Founding Director of Tanzania Children Concern and the headmaster of St. Timothy’s School in Moshi, Tanzania. Here he talks about what St. Timothy’s means to the children that currently attend.

Breaking Ground on the new St. Timothy’s School!


We broke ground on the new St. Timothy’s School yesterday, August 15th, 2009, exactly one month and one day after I first arrived in here in Moshi, Tanzania!

It was absolutely perfect–not a dramatic, public event (it was just James, a few village executives,the workers, and me)–but James’ excitement and enthusiasm felt almost tangible.

For the past three past weeks, James has worked endlessly to finalize the building proposal for the new school. A process that I have come to learn is more meticulous than even the most complicated college application (kind of sad that that is all I can compare it to, but you get the drift). After a lot of patience and some compliance on our part, the proposal was approved with flying colors by the Moshi municipal ministry of education, and it has now been sent to Dar-Es-Salaam (Tanzanian business capital) to be officially registered by the country government.


In the meanwhile, we were given the go-ahead to begin construction. And so yesterday, I met James in town. He had just purchased the piping for the plumbing, and together, along with a truck load of supplies that followed, we ventured to Newland. In the past month, I have made this drive several times, and each time, I am continually amazed by the beauty that is Newland. It is a beauty that has changed since I first got here. The sunflower fields have been cut for harvest, and in their wake, the wildflowers have taken over, reclaiming their land back.

We pulled up to the site of the new school to see the workers busy digging trenches for the plumbing. We got out to walk along part of the newly dug trench, and James stopped to take it all in. He said with a huge smile on his face, “You know Lucia, this is going to be where the classrooms are going to be!” And he pointed to the land right next to where he was standing. He then ran over to where one boy was rhythmically hoisting a shovel up and down into the ground, and asked if he could try. He laughed as he pounded the shovel into the ground, pushing the dirt over to one side.


On the drive into Newland, James told me that when he was a child, public school cost one dollar per year. At the time, he did not have the money to pay for it, and he had to sell his bike so that he could go to school. He explained that this is one of the reasons that he feels so called to educating the “vulnerable children” in Tanzania. Watching James swing that shovel into the ground, I could see how determined he is to help these children, to make this vision a reality. He has come a long way, and now because of this school, others like him will now have an opportunity to receive an education. It was pretty amazing to witness.


The plumber and his workers say that they expect to finish digging the trenches and installing the tubing in the next few days, and after that, construction on the school will officially begin! James says that he thinks everything is about to get moving really fast, and judging by how fast the men were working yesterday, that is an understatement!

As for me, I have been busy working with the children at St. Timothy’s and helping with some of the Tanzania Children Concern outreach. I am planning to meet Nyla and Bryce in Kisumu, Kenya this upcoming weekend, and together we are going to launch the Rita Rose Drip Irrigation Garden! I look forward to keeping you updated on the school construction and everything else that is going on over here! Thank you again for being a part of all of this!

Yours In Hope,
Lucia Crenshaw

Taking time with the kids



“To the children St. Timothy’s has been a refuge… for safety and to feel relieved from the pressures of the day, from the pressures of the night. …the school has been the place to run to for security and safety and for hope.”

James Nathaniel, Headmaster St. Timothy’s, Founder Tanzanian Children’s Concern

It’s easy to approach a group of playing children and take their happiness for granted. It was in my second week at St. Timothy’s when the schools headmaster opened up about what the school really means to the children and the community. He told me, “these children are the happiest when they are in school and during their break they are just counting down the days until they can return and be well taken care of.”

Last week, the students finished their finals on Tuesday and had the rest of the week to play and celebrate while their teachers corrected their exams. Up until this point we had been occupied with community meetings about launching the new school and had not spent time with the children. Fortunately, the end of their exams happened to coincide with handing off the project to the community, which gave us time to hang out with the students.



To help the teachers out we decided to hold a field day where we did every relay race we could think of. The next day we taught the kids different songs and dances. I went way back into my head to remember every song that I learned at summer camp. We even taught them how to do the Macarena, which was a huge hit. By mistake while I was dancing I started a conga line (for the big kids)/ choo choo train (for the young ones) that took over the whole playground.

The last day before their break, we played every game under the sun until we were so exhausted and the kids settled down for story time where Lucia recounted the plots of Sleeping beauty, Aladdin and finally Lion King. They sat there mesmerized. You could have heard a pin drop.

St. Timothy’s school is a special place. By taking care of the most vulnerable children in the community it gives these children a chance to have a childhood. During their break they might be faced with the realities of their situations, some will have to go to work to help a sick parent care for their family. Some who were so dependent on the meals they got at school will go hungry. But after the break they will get to return to school and be kids again.



Many times I get so wrapped up in the work that I have to do during my field visits that I don’t get enough time to spend with the communities that Mama Hope supports. I am so happy that I had this opportunity to be reminded by the children how important it is to just laugh, dance, sing and play. It allowed me to remember why I started this organization in the first place.

Yours in hope,

Nyla

“We are together now”



Dear Friends of Mama Hope

For the past two weeks, I have been living in Moshi, Tanzania, working with Nyla and Bryce on Mama Hope’s most recent project, the new St. Timothy’s School in honor of Vince Mulroy. How this whole project got propelled into action, I am still unsure, but I am going to do my best to try to explain.

Three months ago, I sent Mama Hope an email asking if they could help to build the new St. Timothy’s School. My email explained that a few summers s ago I volunteered as a teacher at the St. Timothy’s school. Currently St. Timothy’s rents their facility, and due to a Tanzanian law they must build a school of their own. In my email, I emphasized the sense of community that I felt in the Newland community. Before I knew it, Mama Hope had agreed to take on the project, I had a plane ticket to Tanzania booked, and the rollercoaster of a ride had officially begun.





Last Wednesday was the community meeting with the Newland village leaders. It was in a small one-room school. We squeezed onto about 5 benches with 16 village leaders. At one point in the meeting, almost every single village leader had their hands up with ideas and suggestions about how to get the community involved, using local labor and the most cost-efficient materials.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Minja (the village chairman) said, “We are together now.” He then explained that the village leaders had decided to hold another community meeting on Saturday where they would invite all of the surrounding villages.

That following Saturday, over 200 people crowded outside in a makeshift arena. Nyla and I sat with the women against a wall in the back (they tried to get us to sit in the front with the men and we said no way jose!). Bryce sat in front with the men.

Throughout the meeting we could hear a man going around the village announcing the meeting on his megaphone, and soon enough people started arriving from all corners; men on bicycles and women with babies on their backs. For 3 hours there was a lot of back and forth in Swahili, and then all of a sudden, we were being taken to look at a plot of land the village had just given for the health center (phase two of the project). I’m going to be honest. To me, this was a plot of land—no different from the next plot of land. But when we turned around and smiled, the whole place erupted in cheers, laughter and clapping. To them, this land was the best of the best, more so, it was the future site of their health center, and very symbolically, they were entrusting this land to “us” as their partners.

It was humbling. It also once again emphasized that these communities are far stronger and more united than anyone gives them credit for; they really do know what is best. We couldn’t help but laugh and dance along with them.

As you can see, this whole project is progressing at a very fast pace and it is definitely taking on a life of its own. We will break ground in a short while, and I look forward to keeping you updated!

All the best,

Lucia Crenshaw

Movement in Moshi, Tanzania


Dear friends of Mama Hope,

After a 12 hour bus ride where we got trapped at the border for 2 hours with no visas and money, we have made it safely to Moshi, Tanzania. Yesterday myself, Lucia Crenshaw Mama Hope’s Program Coordinator and Bryce Adolphson, our photographer met with James Nathaniel the founder of Tanzanian Children Concern and visited the site where St. Timothy’s school is going to be built. Throughout the day we met with the architect, and the local officials who will be overseeing the project. They told us that they had purchased this land for the school in 2005 and they had all but given up hope that the school would ever be built.

The site of the school is in the center of six villages and will serve a community of 30,000 people when completed. It is a beautiful plot of land about 5 miles from Moshi at the base of Kilimanjaro, surrounded by sunflower fields and enormous baobab trees. During the committee meetings Mama Hope’s team stood back and let the community officials run the show trusting that they would know best what was needed to initiate the construction. Because of this approach by the end of the day they had decided all labor and the construction of the bricks would come from the communities themselves. That they would simply tap into the city water instead of dig an expensive well and that they didn’t need to put up power lines to get electricity that they could just share the lines of a neighboring building and share the costs. In the end these creative solutions are going to save them thousands of dollars and make the school a truly sustainable project. We were very excited about these conclusions because we know we would have never learned about them if we insisted on leading the project. They are true examples of how incredibly resourceful the communities are when you leave the planning and implementation of the project in their hands.

That’s all from the field for now!

Yours in hope,

Nyla

To learn more about St. Timothy’s School project: Click Here


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other followers