Monday, 10 June 2019

Update from Heather Douglas

This is the update I received from Heather Douglas who worked alongside Doctor Lucy at the Medical Clinic that was held at Compass School.  What great work they have done!

"I really believe that the medical camp was a smashing success in the way that it gave each child a chance to speak and voice concerns, in the way that it reminded the teachers and children of Tumaini Afrika and it's vested interest in their well-being and in the way that it truly caught some serious health issues.
The first day we weren't sure how things were going to go and added to the stress of logistics, Lucy had an immense report that she was in the middle of revising for a recent medical relief trip to Somalia. Her bosses are big wigs from organizations including UNICEF and WHO but she handled it spectacularly and jumped into Compass wholeheartedly.
She's too humble to say all of this but she was an absolute warrior when it came to getting help for the kids and honoring them by doing due process on each and every complaint; from sore tummies to bean's stuck in ears (the bean, it turned out, had been removed by another doctor earlier and the student just wanted Lucy to take a look).
We took over the office from the head teacher, Mr. Kamae - I'm not sure if you got to meet or interact with him on your last trip but he is a wonderful man, aged 73 and has given up on retirement and teaches the Grade 7 class.
In his office we put stacks of pink and blue cards for keeping the records on on the main desk along with an otoscope, flashlight, box of tongue depressors and hand sanitzer. We had a scale on the floor and taped to the wall a measuring tape to assess their weight and height.
The office has a small couch and on this we spread out a yoga mat and covered it with a sheet. The desk to the side of the larger one was dedicated to bright stickers, a bag of sweets and a jug of clean drinking water.
We started the camp with perhaps the most challenging class: nursery and pre-school. The kids were squirmy and shy and required a lot of work from teacher Rachel to help translate and draw them out.
Teacher Rachel was another hero of the camp spending hours asking kids Dr. Lucy's questions in Swahili and deciphering their sometimes cryptic responses. She also had information on how they performed in class, their family background and who and where their parents were. When a medication was needed; she would call and visit the pharmacy and bring back what was needed.
At the end of the first day; I was drained. It seemed like the kids at Compass had endured more health issues in their first 5 or 6 years than I had in my entire life. Their tummies were mostly all distended, there were many complaints due most likely to dehydration and it was clear that some students probably had needed glasses for a while. What to think; the check-ups were just the beginning.
The second and third day were less difficult; we had a groove and as the students got older, their English improved and we were able to move much faster: I would invite a student in, ask them to remove their jumper and shoes, weigh them and measure their height and record the measurements. In the meantime Lucy would be checking over a different student, starting off by asking them if they had any pains or issues, then by looking at their eyes, nose and mouth. She would listen carefully to their heart and lungs with here stethoscope then she would have them lay down on the couch and she would feel their abdomen. A quick check over the skin for rashes or parasites and then she would write careful notes. Once the check up was complete I would get their shoes back on and give them a sticker and sweet and then repeat the process again.
By the third day we felt like we knew Rachel and teacher Thelda, the Grade 6 teacher, like family; and the children were no longer apprehensive of us; any fear that Lucy was there to give injections had vanished, and on breaks they would come streaming in to grab our hands, give hugs, hand drawn pictures and notes. We were deeply touched.
I still feel that this is just the beginning for many of these children but I also feel that there has been priceless love given through this camp and that you and the rest of Tumaini Afrika, by having enabled Dr. Lucy to do this work, have left a deep and lasting memory. They are seen, they are loved and their lives and health matter; the actions speak to this.
This is a novel but I wanted to paint a picture of the three days so that we could share in the good feels!
I know that Lucy has been in touch and I will leave the medical speak to her as it is over my head! She certainly has given much of herself and I hope very much that you and Tumaini will get to meet her on your trip in Feb.
All the best,
Heather"

May Activities

Jambo all!
What a busy and exciting month May has been! We have been preparing for our As Big As An Elephant Garage Sale on June 8, and so many of you have been dropping items off! Thank you! If you still have items to donate, St. Andrew’s Church is open to receiving goods on June 6 and 7 from 9-5. The Garage Sale goes from 8:30 to 1:00 this coming Saturday. Hope to see you there!

Our newly designed booth at The Ole Warehouse is open on Saturdays from 10-4 at 69 Church St. The co-op has a number of new vendors, so come and check us all out!

As was mentioned in the last email, Heather Douglas is in Kenya and is contributing so much to assist Tumaini Afrika and the children at Compass School! Heather’s friend, Dr. Lucy Pamment, is a British national who has been doing work in Africa for over 20 years. Heather told her about Compass School children and wondered if she might spend a few days examining these kids and getting them the help they may need. After checking with Flora and our Tumaini group and getting anticipated costs for this venture, we agreed that this was so important and a great opportunity to help.  Other Tumaini supporters have offered funds as well.  So far the costs have been just over $1100 Canadian. Heather worked alongside Dr. Lucy as they examined and treated over 100 children! Lucy continues to follow up with some of the more serious issues. ( Gloria had a very high heart rate and laboured breathing) They got her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with Pneumonia and treated.
She also treated distended stomachs, dehydration issues, worms and other parasites. She has suggested that the cooks boil water each morning so that the students have clean water for lunch.  The kids and staff loved Lucy and she loved going there as well! For more information check out Heather’s update letter on our website’s blog. That will begin next week! A special heartfelt thank you to Dr. Lucy Pamment and Heather Douglas! We are so grateful to be able to assist in getting the Compass kids the medical assistance they needed. Now, hopefully, feeling better will increase their ability to learn at school and give them a better quality of life.  Lucy continues to monitor at the school.  She is so dedicated!



So, hope to see you at the Garage Sale and come visit our booth on Saturdays at the Ole Warehouse, too!

Again, we could not do the work we do to help children in Kenya without your support!
Asante Sana!
Holly for Tumaini Afrika

May 2019 Update

Jambo all!

Well we have had lots going on over the past few months! 
The first good news is that our sewing teacher, social worker and school contact for Compass School, Flora, just had a beautiful and healthy baby girl with her partner, Stephen! We wish them all the best!

TA supporter, Carol Colombo-McLean purchased Foldscopes (cardboard flat microscopes) for students in Kenya.  With the assistance of retired Science teachers, Patti Merelaid and Susie Chow, as well as Heather Douglas (Algoma U employee and niece to Lois Shaw who runs our tours to Kenya) Carol, 22 visiting Japanese students,  TA's Cheryl Mireault, Holly Wickett and Judi McLeish, and an AU instructor, the foldscopes were assembled and experimented with, in a Science lab at Algoma University. it is great to have this wonderful partnership with Algoma! The Japanese students added an origami as well as a note in English and Japanese to the kits, for the kids in Kenya! Heather Douglas is over in Kenya right now with some of the kits and the rest will be taken with our next travelling group in February!

While Heather has been in Kenya, she and Flora have spoken with the Member of County Assembly, Henry Kagiri, to see where he is on getting Compass School back to the way it was.  Henry promised to tackle the issues on getting back the semi-permanent classrooms, playground and pit latrines. We are hopeful that this will be done. Special thanks to Heather Douglas for checking into our projects for us!

Welcome to 2 new members to Tumaini Afrika! Sherri Johnson and Linda Mizzi are joining our ranks!

We are so happy to report that funds raised at the Kenyan dinner, and matched by JJ Hilsinger and the Water Tower Inn, have enabled the Mathare Community Outreach program to build two new much needed classrooms! Can't thank all of our supporters and especially JJ, enough  for their generosity and caring. Lots of happy kids and staff have benefitted!! Thanks to Diane Hilderley for coordinating things from this end!
 
So, our AS Big As An Elephant Garage Sale is coming up on June 8! See the attached poster for details! This is one of our biggest fundraisers, so if you have items to donate or can come to see what we have, we would appreciate it! Thank you to so many of you who have dropped off items already! Call lead Diane Hilderley at 705-759-3418 or respond to this email for more information.

We still have a booth in The Ole Warehouse at 69 Church St. behind the Bushplane Museum! We have changed locations within the room and have some new items for sale! Come see our sister group Sequel's items too, as their funds support refugees in Thailand. Micheline Findlay and her crew have done a great job with this not for profit business.

 As always, we couldn't do the things we do without the support of the community and others from afar!

Asante Sana!
Holly for Tumaini Afrika




Monday, 11 March 2019

March Update!

Jambo!

Compass School is back in session and funds were sent for food for a lunch program - for some children it may be their only meal of the day. We are awaiting news from Henry Kagiri, the Member of the County Assembly for Compass School, to let us know when some of the property taken from the school will be returned so that we can purchase some playground equipment for the children.
Mathare Community Outreach in the Mathare Slum, where we visited the last two trips, requested funds to help rebuild the girls' and boys' dormitories and washrooms in their orphanage.  After repairing broken windows as well, the children feel more comfortable and safe in this environment with our assistance. We also sent funds to repair and replace desks and chairs for their classrooms. For the future, we are looking at helping to rebuild two classrooms. Classrooms have been damaged and destroyed when flooding occurred in the rainy season.

Tumaini Afrika members listen to Kenyans as to what the needs are with our projects, and do not tell them what WE think they need. To that end we provide a hands up, not a hand out. We assist Kenyans in helping themselves, and since education and health are so important, ensuring that children can receive an education and have proper nutrition to be able to learn is most important.

Many Tumaini Afrika members and some supporters, as well, privately sponsor children by paying their tuition and school supplies to attend elementary and high school. We are hopeful of making a long term improvement in each one's lives and they are so grateful for the opportunity!

Well, we are very pleased to let you know that our big fundraiser, A Taste of Kenya, held recently at the Water Tower Inn Pavilion, was a huge success! We had a sell out crowd who all thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful food prepared by Chef Todd (assisted by Chris), as well as the delectable dessert auction and fabulous musical entertainment! Special thanks to organizer, Jeannine Jefferson, dessert auction lead, Micheline Findlay, all Tumaini Afrika members, wonderful dessert bakers and Tracy White and the Water Tower staff! Thanks to Gabi Doleske, who sewed all of the beautiful African table runners for this event! And, of course, special thank you for the great entertainment, to vocalists Francine Giroux, Micheline Findlay and Jeannine Jefferson, and guitarists Steve Burgess and Vicki Ekstrom! Thanks to the dinner crowd, we raised over $6000, including over $2400 on the dessert auction alone! Can't thank you enough! Proceeds from the event will help build a new classroom in the Mathare Community Centre, as well as assist the children at Compass School.   
Sheena also sold 17 more goats to bring our total to 100.  These goats will be given out to young girls in Narok and Mbeere by our good friend, Mary Thamari, and pictures will be forthcoming! Carey Groot designed Days For Girls gift cards so that for $15 a kit, girls can attend school every day. Gabi, DFG lead, sold 13 cards for kits that night as well!  Our community and supporters are amazing! 
JJ Hilsinger and the Water Tower continue to be fabulous supporters of our group and the children in Kenya, and for that, the Tumaini Troopers, as he calls us, are very grateful! Many people have suggested we do this again next year and Chef Todd says he can do a new Kenyan menu! Stay tuned!

If you haven't visited The Ole Warehouse (formerly the Vintage Co-op) yet, you are missing a different shopping experience! Tumaini Afrika and Sequel (funds raised go to educate refugees in Thailand) share a booth and many other vendors sell very unique items that you won't find anywhere else. The Ole Warehouse is open on Saturdays from 10-4, and is located at 69 Church St. behind the Bushplane Museum in the old MNR building. Would love to see you there!

Recently Tumaini Afrika members were invited by Algoma University President, Asima Vezina, to come and meet some staff and student leaders and see how we might partner and offer some mentoring opportunities. We look forward to seeing where this initiative leads!

As well, Jeannine Jefferson and Holly Wickett gave a presentation to residents at Collegiate Heights Retirement Residence a few weeks ago. Many were very interested in what we do and one attender will be sewing for Days For Girls.

Supporter Carol Colombo, has found some amazing cardboard microscope kits that are being used to help in science programs in third world countries! Heather Douglas is returning to Kenya in April and will take these kits to Compass School and others, as she will teach Science classes to students there!  Heather's mother took us on our first trip to Kenya, and Heather's Aunt Lois is our tour leader in Kenya!

Our As Big As An Elephant Garage Sale, will take place again this year at St. Andrew's United Church Hall on June 8. If you have items to donate they can be dropped off at the church from 9-5 on June 6 and 7, or call Diane at 705-759-3418 or Holly at 705-542-7966 if you want to donate ahead of time. Please come to see the fabulous items at the sale, too!

After the last newsletter, many of you came forward to help sponsor students to attend high school. Flora, our sewing teacher/social worker at Compass Elementary School, has been thrilled that 7 students who would never have been able to be educated, are now in school! Thank you to those private donors who have helped so much and to Flora for doing all the work getting the students enrolled.

Days For Girls Lead and Tumaini Afrika member, Gabi Doleske, recently travelled to Tanzania where she worked with women at a few colleges, teaching them how to begin making sanitary kits so that they may have an enterprise of their own.  She was well received!

We are still waiting to hear from the Member of County Assembly, Henry Kagiri, who, on our last visit, promised to help the students at Compass School.  There are currently 70 students in the school but their playground is being used to house construction equipment.  A few of their classrooms have been taken over too. We are hoping that Henry will make sure that the equipment gets moved and the land and building restored, so that the children have a place to play.  We are planning on buying some playground equipment when the land comes back to the School.

We are planning a return trip to Kenya, to check on our projects and see the wonderful children and adults we have met and continue to keep in touch with, next year - likely February/March 2020.  The last trip cost each traveller about $7000 for 3 weeks, and this fluctuates according to our dollar value.  Each member pays privately for their trip and this includes air fare, accommodation and most meals, and travel by van with a driver while there. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Holly Wickett or Jeannine Jefferson -705-945-1042, or respond to this email.

Once again, we could not do the work we do without your support! Thank you so so much, on behalf of the children who benefit in Kenya!

Holly for Tumaini Afrika