Thursday, June 05, 2014

Creemore Echo: May 2014...Celebrate the MAJENGO miracle!!

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Celebrate the Majengo miracle
By: Kristi Green


May 29, 2014


Written for the CREEMORE ECHO,  MAY 2014...
By Majengo c0-founder: Lynn Connell

TO DONATE online: www.majengo.org
thank you!!!

In Swahili, the word majengo means “a building up.” But for me, what has happened in the last six years, means a miracle.
Six years ago, while teaching painting in Africa, I was taken to visit 52 little kids, ages two to nine, huddled together on a wet, mud floor in a leaking, dark foyer set up as a makeshift daycare, with virtually no resources: no food, no furniture, no teaching supplies – and, in most cases, no one on the planet left to care for them.
Ragged, starving, and in some cases wandering from farm to farm begging for food and lodging, they’d been gathered together by local farmers, their wives cooking out back over fire, serving the children the only meal they would have in a day.
That day, I, along with Charles Luoga, the HIV/AIDS Project Coordinator of the local NGO, Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) Tanzania, made a commitment to help those kids in whatever way we could. Miraculously and amazingly, from that moment on, with the help of many generous people, Majengo now thrives.

Building Majengo
Charles found a half-built home down the road and made a deal with the owner: we finance the building of the house and get to use it for four years. I came back to Canada and brought Majengo to Creemore. Creemore folks, family and friends raised $23,000. One year later, the kids moved in, along with a hard-working, local staff of 12, all of whom had cooked for the kids for free that whole first year. They are still there.
Two years later, the government shut down five corrupt orphanages on the safari route. These had been set up as businesses with a steady stream of money going into the pockets of their owners, while the kids were overcrowded, sick and starving. In one day, the government dropped off 67 new kids to Majengo. I even had my life threatened by one Director whose orphanage had been closed.

At Majengo, we went into rescue mode. Our cooks were now feeding more than 100 people per meal, three times a day. Terrified and starving children who had been torn from shocking, indescribable circumstances, were now thrown together after eating leaves off the trees and garbage from the street, stampeding the kitchen with other equally frightened children, who were forced into a new cohabitation with each other.
Total chaos. Yet our staff pulled through, and within a month the security, health and well-being of those kids changed radically. Today, they live as one huge happy family… the older kids look after the younger, and a staff of 17 cooks, cleaners, watchmen and teachers are committed to raising them, lovingly, as their own.

Majengo grows
We’ve come a long way in such a short time. Matt McKissock and his family from Warren, Pennsylvania came on as a third partner, joining Majengo Canada and ICA Tanzania, (which each have official charitable status), to issue tax receipts for donations.

Two years ago, the local Majengo community government gifted us 10 acres of open clean land just outside the village of MtoWaMbu, which is an hour’s drive from the famous NgoroNgoro Crater safari. With the help of many supporters, we built three big houses, a dining hall, kitchen and soccer field. Last June, we relocated 83 kids, plus chickens, goats, sheep and puppies into their own brand new Majengo Children’s Home. Your money has been put to tremendous use.
Just this year, we hand-drilled 40 metres down to flourish unlimited fresh water to Majengo and equipped the kitchen with two top-notch stoves to help relieve our cook’s respiratory/eye problems. 
We also planted three huge vegetable gardens, with each child choosing, planting and watering their own tree, and we built a security fence dancing with bougainvillea.






Since January, 73 Majengo kids have been sponsored into Mama Anna’s English Medium School where Susan Lee’s daughter Simone Lee Hamilton just returned from six months of teaching. Simone will be at Sunday’s party, regaling you with fascinating stories of working and living on the ground at Majengo. 

We strive to improve the lives of the surrounding Majengo community. We do this by offering education to vulnerable children who do not live at Majengo, at our onsite preschool. The school is staffed by three trained teachers who work side by side under the direction of our ICA Tanzanian ground support and village leaders.

What do we need?
Since we started, our operating costs have risen from $55,000 to $135,000. This covers food, medical, education, accommodation, sports and local staffing. Other than the required bookkeeping and government auditing, postal costs and photocopying, every cent that we raise goes directly to supporting the children. Our directors and volunteers do so entirely at their own expense.
Can you imagine feeding 83 kids and putting them to bed… in the dark? This year, on top of our operating expenses, we’re aiming to raise $50,000 for solar energy. We’re wired for electricity, but it could be years before we get connected to the grid. For more information, check out www.smilemajengo.com.
Simply put, we need your continuing enthusiasm and support, as founders and in a way, “surrogate parents,” to give these kids a chance and help them grow through childhood until the day they leave Majengo.
Without your help, Majengo would still be only a dream. To make a donation, visit www.majengo.org or send a cheque (payable to Majengo Canada) to 284 Major Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2L6.
Since Majengo opened, the lives of 83 vulnerable, orphaned and displaced children, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, have changed astoundingly. Today, they thrive – because of you.
Here is to you – our friends and family in the Creemore area, who have supported the magical Majengo Children’s Home, in central Tanzania, since our beginning in 2008.
Please join us on Sunday, June 1 to celebrate Majengo and to celebrate you. The event is free; all are welcome.

Celebrate the Majengo Children’s Home
Sunday, June 1, 2 to 5 pm
Creativity Art Retreat, 8961 County Road 9, Dunedin
Food, bar and live music with Rusty McCarthy
Free
www.majengo.org
Lynn Connell is Majengo Canada Director and Co-Founder.

PS...THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING TO OUR CELEBRATION PARTIES...We raised over $15,000, made lots of new friends and supporters for Majengo...huge thanks to Lyndon Wiebe for delicious food...Rusty McCarthy and Anne Lindsay and her band for enchanting music, John and Shauna Connell for their stunning Toronto home, and to everyone who volunteered....

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