Those Msanda Boys

This was the week, in six regions all across the country of Tanzania, that new students started enrolling in our schools to come study English. They just finished their national exams to complete their seven years of primary school education, and they and their families won’t find out for four months who will get chosen to get to go on to the 8th grade in the government schools. We’re not waiting though.

In their minds

“Bibi (grandmother), no one has gone to a witch doctor to put a curse on your daughter. She has AIDS.”

The name they chose for their school

Last week began with another email from Malawi and when I saw the pictures of all of their bricks – they now have more than 70,000 made! – I said to myself that nothing the whole week, no matter how good, was ever going to top that! I was thrilled off the charts. The only bad thing about starting out the week at the mountain top is that everything from then on looks like you’re going downhill!

And down hill indeed things did go.

Where was kindness?

It’s easy to focus only on the big picture of things – and when I do it’s hard not to be happy about the hundreds and hundreds of people who are alive today because of the work that we are doing here in Tanzania to help the widows and the orphans and those who are sick with HIV/AIDS.

Last night I saw the picture of the bricks

Last night I saw the pictures of the bricks.

It will be good to remember Ella

The first time I met Ella I liked her.

To find Agnes

It was as though time stood still for a moment as my eyes focused in on a little angel sitting on a blanket in the middle of our AIDS day crowd. Her emaciation was frightening, but her bright eyes and calm spirit caught my attention. Over 300 of my friends who are HIV+ had already gathered outside our clinic waiting for the doctors and nurses who were supposed to be coming from town. And that’s when we got word that they wouldn’t be coming from town because they couldn’t get any fuel for their vehicles.

A "thumbs up"

Between classes this past week, we made a quick emergency trip to the village of Igoda to check on Dolla. Dolla started the AIDS medications three weeks ago. When we got there we found she had lost consciousness, her poor children and neighbors looking on, feeling quite helpless and afraid. Msafiri, who serves at our clinic, and I were also feeling quite helpless. Totally helpless in fact. Everything had been done right, her medicines were correct, she had no fever, no cough, no symptoms. She just simply wouldn’t regain consciousness.

Someone else who never left Oswad

“Mama Vinton, with Jesus, nothing can go wrong.” I found her words both encouraging and touching – and I saw faith written all over her face, wiping away fear. These sweet words were spoken by Steven’s wife as she prepared for her husband to leave their home in the village to go all the way across the country to the one and only cancer hospital in the country located in Dar es Salaam. Kaposi Sarcoma is a nasty skin cancer that attacks so many of my friends here living with the AIDS virus.

Her only son

Even if Josaphat could not jump up to greet me, his whole beaming countenance soared to great heights. It was a meeting I never anticipated having with that little boy and that even now when I think back to him my heart is filled with such thankfulness …