Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Seanna and Sierra, age 7 are coming over on March break to visit me, and to work in the Blessed Comfort orphanage a few blocks from where we will be staying. Last year there were ten little kids there, aged 3-7...we bought them clothing, sheets, towels, had a dining room table and benches made, toys....they had nothing, absolutely nothing, except two old mattresses, one for the boys one for the girls, to sleep on, lined up one by one next to each other across the length of the bed....toys..------ I wrote the director a month ago about our coming....


Forwarded Message
From: Judica Abraham
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 22:37:58 -0800 (PST)
To: "lynnconnell@sympatico.ca"

Dear lynn.how are you?hoping fine,we are fine also.sory for delaying answer your email but this is due to reasonable reasons. About the plans of our building,we have alread brought the piece of land ,building materials which you will hapen to see the but they are not get to the site due to securty reasons.
About the issue of taking children will also be very happy.
For now children need building even though we have not maneged to do so.
We have 35 children and their ages for boys are from 4yrs to 12yrs.we have 22boys and 13girls.
Thank you very much.may the lord bless you .
Feel welcome and hope see you safe back to afrika
best regards

I'll be at the orphanage on Saturday...will keep you posted!
The sheets are in the washer, the bath full..it's 5am, am flying over to Johnnie's for one last visit with the twins in an hour, and ready to go! Talk soon!

Monday, January 28, 2008

2008...AFRICA...JOURNEY.......on the eve of....
Checking, checking...just to make sure this is still working! Haven't written since July!
One day to go! More or less ready, not packed yet....but almost done: meds, shots; bank, Creativity Art Retreat business, ready for Marci Lipman (416-346-5511) to take over as of now! Feels great. Kato and Billy moving into Argyle, the car over to Johnny's...list after list, checked off...can barely remember what, where or why...excited! will be once i'm on that plane..a night at Merit's outside of Amsterdam, and then Thursday night, on to Tanzania, via Niarobi. Kenya..am worried about that, but will be at that airport for under three hours- it's a good distance from town so I'm certain it's okay, but things are getting much worse there everyday, big article this morning in the Globe.... then on to Kilimanjaro Airport...may, or may not be picked up. Maybe. Maybe not. Doris, head of ICA Tanzania, and Charles: Mto Wa Mbu ICA project coordinator, swamped with U.S.Rotary visits and projects. So who knows? That's the attitude you have to develop over there, travelling anywhere I have found: no expectations, flexibility, allow the universe to unfold, the mystery of it, it always works out, in some way, and often in a much better way than I could ever have imagined. The Art Retreat runs this way too....a good lesson in life, patience, stop trying to control things, just let whatever happens, happen.....

If they meet me, great..we drive 4 hours to Mto Wa Mbu and start the journey..
If they don't, i grab a cab for an hour over to the bus station in Arusha, find the local bus to Mto Wa Mbu, buy a ticket and 3 hours later, make my way into that little crazy bustling village I loved so much last year. All of this somewhat daunting, but so it begins! Then on to the guest house, with a sign in Swahili nailed outside, the letters of which i copied down carefully to show people where i was staying..only to be met with blank stares! And great caffaws! Ha. "Vacancy"?? This is a guest house! So no I don't know what it is called, but i do remember where it is...and I'm hoping someone has made a reservation there for me this year. That's all...

Why Tanzania? Why back to Mto Wa Mbu...? At first, we thought South Africa, to Johannesburg, where the ICA is run by six guys, all young, working in the high schools in the huge slum of Alexandra, but where a friend of mine's mother was shot dead last summer - plans cancelled. Then it was going to be Kibera, in Nairobi, the slum I travelled through last February - a where thousands poured out the day after the elections in December with bows, arrow, fire and guns, burning shanty, hacking people to death - tribe against tribe, neighbour against neighbour....poverty, extreme horrible conditions, no way to get ahead, no way to live, and nothing to lose - the elections they say was the tip of the iceberg, the catalyst to ignite the festering boil, ready to burst..and it has, terribly.
I decided okay, then, maybe not this year.
But Tanzania came up with a proposal and one that I've been fundraising for all year: the Masai Girl's Education Fund...we have raised enough to send about 20 girls to school, which is incredible. I've commissioned Emely, a grandmother in charge of over 11 children deep in the bowels of Harare Zimbabwe, where the world's highest inflation rages at 9,000%, where Stephanie Nolan wrote that what once a 2 bedroom bungalo was worth, you now could buy, if you couldd find it, one lonely tube of toothpaste, incredibly. Food shortages, no electricity, dirty polluted water, no cooking oil, maize, no food on the shelves, black market, those with money travelling in adjacent countries: Botswana, Zambia to bring food back to sell for anything they ask for on the market, the rich getting richer as always - the poor starving, sick, no hospitals, no fuel, no buses, no employment. It is bleak. I am receiving emails daily from proud people, reduced to asking repeatedly for help, anything...corruption, stealing, lying...i have learned much this year, and can only empathize. I know most of us would do anything, everything, no matter what, to feed our children - we can't judge, we can only pray...

Emely...who makes beautiful batiks, ships them over to me in big plastic bundles at great cost, these pieces I have been selling at my presentations...each one helping Emely, and allowing one Masai girl to go to school for a year, such a win win situation which is really working...and thank you all for supporting this project...we have sent the money over to ICA Tanzania, but at present there isn't a system in place...the Masai community have a selection committee...but there is no interviewing, photographing, and most important I have found, monitoring system...to make sure the girls get to school - Masai girls, women, have less status than the livestock, cows, goats...so, why girls? they might ask...empowerment, skills, knowledge...and yet there is the fine line to walk, I know. I am not going in there to try to alter their culture, but to offer growth hopefully, knowledge, especially re Hiv Aids...a shift, perhaps...is maybe what could happen...
What else, there is their transportation, what kind of school? where? Who sets them up with books, uniforms, bed, dresser, desk...clothing, everything...none of this is in place..so that will be one of the projects i will be working on with the Masai...interesting..not only do I not speak Swahili, but now there will be the additional issue of the Masai language!

I am taking a great digital video camera this time, with good sound, to actually film the process when it is appropriate...I have never done this before, and am both totally excited, and scared out of my mind...the security around this camera will be interesting..plus the technicalities, of which i am just learning, and certainly at this point, am a rank amateur! ICA Canada also would like me to bring back footage of African students talking and showing the Hiv Aids issues from their point of view...so lots to do...and plus, that orphanage i wrote of last year...it is in the same village where i will be stationed...glee!

So on the eve of departure, I wish you all a great winter...back April 04....time to get ready for the art retreat /08.
if you want to write: lynnconnell@sympatico.ca.. There is an internet cafe about an hour from Mto Wa Mbu..love to hear - no news there..last year I didn't know Saddam H. had been hung for over a month after it happened! So what will happen in the US primaries....?? Bon voyage...be well....Lynn