A letter from Marilyn Moir, in Tanzania.
Marilyn is the student welfare officer at Katoke-Lweru Secondary School, Tanzania. She and her husband Sid, headmaster, and their adult daughter Anna, sponsorship coordinator, are in their fifth year of service.
Greetings from ‘all shades-of-green, very soggy’ Katoke. We are nearing the end of a very wet season and while most days start with a drenching deluge of rain - which might remain unremittingly intense for up to five hours – the days will usually end in brilliant sunshine. While the rain is necessary for crop production (especially maize and beans) it causes much suffering. Poverty means shelter is often very flimsy (wattle and daub with grass roofs) and many houses get washed away, or collapse under the power of the deluge.
One of our students, Nelson, who is also an evangelist and father of three children, went to visit his family after heavy rain, to find his house collapsed and his mother and children in hospital. Imagine his joy, and ours, when we were able to console him with God’s provision, because a very generous donation had come through from Australia. He was able to rebuild a much sturdier, although tiny, house made from baked mud bricks with iron-sheet roof. Thank you to everyone who enables me, through the welfare fund, to offer this kind of assistance. Now Nelson will be able to continue his studies and future work, knowing his family is secure; not just in terms of shelter, but most of all in God’s care.
This year has been thankfully, so far, without the high dramas of last year, but has been increasingly busy. Sid is usually down at school by 5am and both of us rarely get home before 6:30pm, or later. Evenings are often interrupted with dormitory problems, such as sickness – we are really exhausted. The workload has been enormous, especially because our sponsored Form 4 students from 2012 have been returning on a daily basis for assistance.
So, here we are, breaking new ground as we try to research availability and quality of colleges to which we can send Form 4 leavers, so they have vocational training. Some have already gone to commence training, as medical lab assistants, in nursing careers, business studies, accountancy, welding, carpentry, masonry, secretarial, computer-related work and primary or nursery teaching. Each person requires much time, as we research possibilities, cost and availability of sponsors. We are so grateful to all who were so willing, when asked, to continue to help sponsored students, so that they can be trained to enter the workforce. I wish you could be present when word comes through that sponsorship will continue, or is available. So many are orphans and, without this help, would be doomed to remain in their village, where life is lived at a subsistence level, and where sickness and crop failure and vagaries of weather leave them so vulnerable. Special thanks to Lee [sponsorship co-ordinator] for her efforts.
Recently, another evangelist among our students, Emmanuel, himself an orphan, returned from his village with a request to bring a young boy, Byamungu, to school. Emmanuel had known this boy when he was quite small and met up with him again. Byamungu was without family, or home, simply wandering from place to place. He had also been forced by circumstances to leave his education. We decided, after he did our entrance exam, to accept him. Emmanuel was overjoyed, as was Byamungu (he is still traumatised and malnourished). Emmanuel’s eyes filled with tears (me too!) as he thanked me and said: “Mrs. Moir I often think ‘where would I be, and what would my life have been without this school?’ When I finish I want to help more boys like Byamungu.” I replied “Emmanuel, perhaps you will be the George Mueller [founder of orphanages] of Africa,” and he said “yes, and Byamungu will be my first orphan. My home will be his home, when I finish school, and he will be the first of many.”
We usually praise God when we hear such responses from students because it is our constant prayer that, just as we have come to serve them that they will catch the vision and go on to serve in the same way. It was a great joy too, through your kind donations, to be able to supply Byamungu with a mattress, blankets, socks, underwear, shoes, etc. He has health issues, but I’m sure with some TLC he will quickly improve and settle happily into the life of our school. He will need a sponsor, as do so many others do, so please continue to spread the word about our school.
Rosemary Hildephonce, previously one of our office assistants and a deserted parent withfour young children, recently contacted me. She was suffering from intense pain, radiating from hip to ankle. Two hospitals wanted to amputate and so I sent her money (from welfare) so that she could she could travel and be assessed by Dr. Rogation at the close-by hospital at Izigo. She had previously been there, with the same complaint. Dr Rogation had diagnosed cellulitis and was confident a prolonged course of antibiotics would cure the infection. So Rosemary has left three of her children and come back with her youngest to stay at Dr. Rogation’s little hospital. It is quite primitive, but she is responding to treatment. To save her money I have been taking food from our own table each night, up to the hospital, which has added to the time I arrive home. Yesterday, Rosemary moved into a little rented room so she will cook for herself until treatment finishes. She wants to work with us again, but this time leave the children in care up at the plateau, and travel back there each weekend. I would love to have Rosemary back, as she was so reliable, a self-starter and has good English.
Liberatus, another student, came to see me to show a nasty gum infection developing (along with two broken front teeth) following an accident during PE. He had suffered in silence because he couldn’t afford treatment. So again, I was able to draw on welfare money to send him to a dentist in Bukoba; the total cost will be around 80,000/- about $50, a relatively small amount to avoid what could become a huge problem.
These are just a few examples of how welfare money is used. My welfare book is full of such stories, assisting beyond the school, as well as inside, wherever the need is presented.
Please pray for our students’ health: UTI, malaria, typhoid, skin infections, stomach ulcers, worms, chest infections, influenza (Africans become very. sick with flu), eye problems often requiring spectacles; these problems are always present. We are always kept busy, sending them off to the dispensary, local hospitals or caring for them in sick bay.
It is amazing that our own health holds out and we really can say that daily, God renews our strength in spite of incessant demands. Please pray that God will protect our whole site. Across Tanzania there is increasing concern about tension developing between Moslems and Christians. This country has always enjoyed peace internally, since independence, and recent outbreaks of violence against Christians and churches have been a worrying development.
We always pray for God’s protection over our guards and site each night. I am always amused to see our cool African cat, Mufasa, who is always at the heel of our guards. This morning we were awakened by the guards to hand over keys, and sure enough, there was the third, feline, guard accompanying them, like a dog at heel.
On Tuesday Paul [Hoffmans] leaves after his great help as accountant / bursar and we are looking forward to the arrival of Rowena and Peter Bragg, in early June, who have committed to at least two years here. Thank you again to every one of you who have been supporting us in so many ways. Our work could not continue without your prayers, generosity and encouragement.
A post-script, following a trip to Bukoba, which illustrates the poverty trap. It filled me with a yearning to see people like Richard experience God’s love.
Richard is about 17, and he approached me because his job is to collect a parking fee. He was disappointed to see that we had already bought our ticket. “Please come and find me next time,” he pleaded. Seeing that he had reasonable English, I asked his name; “Richard Medad”. Sensing my interest, he poured out his story. Yes, he had completed Form 4 but: “I am an orphan, and have only a younger brother. I am responsible for him, and I’m trying to pay for his schooling.” Richard’s salary, by the way, is meagre - on a good day, maybe 3000/- [$2]. His future seems so bleak. “If my parents were here, they could help,” he said sadly. ‘Could I offer him a job?’ he asked.
Orphans are so vulnerable ... I felt very sad as I said ‘goodbye’. I will maintain my connection with Richard and pray that God will show me a way to assist him.
The Welfare Fund is administered by Marilyn Moir for medical and other emergencies. It is one of several programs of the Katoke Trust for Overseas Aid that are meeting human need by providing education, better health and cash crop extension. Funding is provided by Australian supporters through tax deductible contributions. A major current project of the Katoke Trust is establishing a life-changing secondary school in this remote rural centre in north west Tanzania. It is in its fifth year of operation, with 326 students.