steve's updates

A different kind of tears

Rain or shine Tua is out there working hard - usually with a baby on her back! She has been doing this for months now. We met when she came to our home to tell me that she needed some kind of work to keep her younger brother Jile in our school. I had no idea how big Jile’s debt was that day, but it turned out that his debt was huge. Impossible in fact. Jile has been in school for years now, but he has only paid a little bit over the last two years and nothing at all this year. Of course no one knows that.

A total failure

The trip to the big city of Dodoma was a total failure, to the point where it was almost comical.

Really need kids

I received the last of the reports today. In all of our schools last Friday we had a special day of celebration for the birthday of Village Schools here in Tanzania. I knew that the kids would collect money like they did last year, and indeed they did. It’s hard to really express the bundle of emotions that I feel when I see that the total of all that they gave came to just over 6 million shillings (almost $3000).

Godrey's email about the three million shillings

The teachers in Tanzania have a fund that they've been contributing every month to for the past several years. In a country where there is no medical insurance it allows them to provide a safety net for each other in case something bad happens to someone. Unlike an insurance policy where you have a contractual right, with their system that they've set up you can't even ask for help if you need it -- the group just sees those who need it and helps them out.

The boy whose name we do not know

The purpose of our trip was to hold meetings in the villages of Ikwega and Mayota where people were gathering, having come from miles around, to discuss the possibility of building two more new schools. Justin and I had originally talked about making the two-day trip just the two of us, but it seemed like such a great opportunity that we decided to take Yotham and Issac, two of our college students, on the trip with us.

... the day he graduates

It was an hour or so before dusk when Florian came to our door and Susan gave him a seat in the living room and called for me. It was too dark in the house for me to see his face and so I said let's go outside and go for a walk the two of us.

So, what do you want young man?

Priceless

Everyone -- all our students, people in the village, really everyone -- is just thrilled that last night the big D6 bulldozer arrived! Work has begun in earnest at the college clearing out three additional meadows -- we have a lab building to build in one meadow, 4 new lecture halls planned for a second meadow, and in a big meadow way to the back of the campus we're going to put in three more houses for professors. Once that's all done, we're going to use that bulldozer to put in a serious firebreak -- a huge road -- that will completely surround our entire 55-acre campus.

Those little girls are going to miss them even more.

I remember the first time I was confronted with the reality that using the names of people and not their numbers upset the government medical personnel. We were distributing people's files on a HIV/AIDS clinic day a few years back and I got scolded and told that we were the ONLY clinic in the whole region that used names -- and the head doctor didn't mean that as a compliment. She really was angry. I remember that it really struck me odd that using names and not numbers would be so disturbing –especially in a place where people have never gone to school and consequently don’t know numbers.

The bridge

When we came to the first bridge I knew we were in trouble. The river was a torrent and water had already risen right up to the bottom of the bridge. I could see that on the other side of the bridge part of the road had already been washed away. My heart sank.

I swallowed all my fears

The last official moments of our leadership conference were over by 9 pm, but the distribution of everything from textbooks to soccer jerseys, receipt books to report cards went on until way past midnight. And then at 2:30 in the morning, the first bus pulled away from our college campus where we had held the conference to take people to town so they could start catching buses and trucks that would take everyone back to our schools scattered over the eight regions of this country. All day I've been receiving SMS messages on my phone, and tonight the first of those are actually getting home.