Well we just returned from another wonderful trip to Africa.  As usual, there never seems to be enough time to get it all done!  But am grateful that I am able to travel that far at least twice a year.

After a 26-hour flight we finally landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport.  The weather was perfect the entire time we were there (April),  It is their rainy season and they seem to be getting quite a bit of rain this year, which is always good.  It would rain every night and clear up during the day which was perfect.

While there we visited several of the groups JustUsFriends works with to provide basic needs and medical care.  Jane’s Kids was our first stop and found the children extremely happy to see us.  Mariam, Jasen’s wife,is so good with the children, she had them all singing and dancing within the first 10 minutes we arrived.  They were harvesting their maize crop and shucking corn.  Mariam jumped right in there and began helping with that chore.  They have recently added laying hens which they were very excited about.  Jane informed us that they are now housing 38 children.

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Our next stop was to Usalama House.  This is one of our newest orphanages we are extending our hand to.  Mama Catherine was wonderful and the children were excited to see us.  Again, Mariam,had them singing and dancing almost immediately.  This orphanage currently has 12 children.

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We visited many more and could go on and on about each one, however, we found all to be extremely in good spirits, with happy boys and girls.  They especially liked the candy we brought with us.

Most of our time was spent looking over the land we are purchasing for the new Loren’s Hope Compound.  We looked at several pieces of property and finally found our perfect setting.  The property is located in a village called Maji Chi (Water of Life).  The property is abundant with fig trees, mango trees and banana trees.  In addition, maize (corn) is growing on the property.  We are certain this land will serve us well in creating a self-sustainable community.  Now the work begins.  We have raised enough money to buy the land and build the clinic.  But we still need to raise funds for the orphanage and agriculture portion of the model.  Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

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We hope to begin construction in about a month.  We welcome you all to become a part of this endeavor.  It is wonderful to give back to others.  Makes our life more complete.  We are extremely grateful to have found this land and to all of you who have helped us raise the funds to get this far.  Asante Sana.

Until next time! (Hadi wakati mwingine)


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Been Too Busy to Blog

Wow! Where has the time gone?  JustUsFriends has been so busy there never seems to be enough time to get it all done.  This volunteer stuff is way more demanding than my last “paying” job.  But, I will tell you, the rewards I have received from working with JustUsFriends and their mission, is way more rewarding than any “paying” job I ever had!  The rewards come everyday when the children and people you are helping are so grateful.  The love, peace, and joy you feel in your heart is not like anything I have ever felt.  I am so grateful to be involved with this group.

A lot has happened since I last blogged.  I am going to try and catch you up really quick so you can be up-to-date with our program.  In May we traveled back to Arusha for the dedication ceremony of or first clinic, Loren’s Hope.  In July, we rented a temporary building on the other side of Arusha, in Usa River, and opened up a second clinic, Loren’s Hope II.  Since July, we have been looking for property to build our permanent location and have now found the perfect place.  A 12.5 acre tract of land near Arusha National Park.  We have recently had the property surveyed and hopefully will have all the paperwork complete within the next month.  I will be traveling back to Tanzania in a couple of weeks to finish up the transaction.  This will be the future home of Loren’s Hope compound.  The compound will include a boys and girls orphanage wing, a mess hall, offices for JustUsFriends, offices of African Journey Tours (our safari company), a volunteer house, two doctor’s houses, and the medical clinic.  We will also incorporate keyhole gardens for vegetables, plant fruit trees, raise coffee, raise poultry and cows for dairy.  You can find out more details about the new compound on our website, www.justusfriends.us,  in a video located on our home page.

We had a very successful fundraiser in Austin, Texas on December 1st at The Belmont.  This was our first annual Music Extravaganza.  The bands were awesome, food wonderful, and the silent auction fabulous.  A huge thank you goes out to all those who worked so hard to pull this together.  The performers, Lauren Silva, Annie Benjamin, Wes Cunningham, Joshua Joseph, Tom Melancon, The Continuums, and Aqua Jones all volunteered their talents to make this such a wonderful evening.  We had folks fly in from New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Colorado, and California.  It was fabulous!.  Can’t wait until the 2nd Annual Music Extravaganza!

We have a wonderful Acapulco Vacation which we are trying to sell.  This is a $5,600 trip that was donated to our silent auction, sold for $3,000, but we were unable to collect the funds.  We will make you a great deal on this vacation and the best part is that you will be able to write this off on your taxes as a donation.  Contact me at info@justusfrinds.us and don’t miss out on a wonderful chance to stay in your very own private villa on Acapulco Bay.  More information and photos can be viewed on our website at:  www.justusfriends.us

We have several really exciting things coming our way in the near future.  Stay tuned as I can’t wait to share them with all of you.  Shouldn’t be too long now!  Also, if you have not visited our website in a while, please log on from the link above,and see all the new and exciting details there!

Until Next Time…and I’ll try keep you more informed on a regular basis!

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African Thanksgiving by Bob Bauge

Airborne again this time for a short business trip to Houston where I was several weeks ago before leaving work for a Thanksgiving vacation of volunteering and exploring Tanzania, Africa .  
Having usually traveled to warm weather beaches, snowy slopes or tourist attractions,  East Africa was off the beaten path.  More than one occasion I questioned why my lovely girlfriend and I were off to Tanzania?  From time to time, I had volunteered with various projects in the US with Habitat for Humanity, while these short experiences where helpful in the decision to travel to Africa, nothing would prepare me for the actual experience. We were off to help in an area of the world where, if the roads and highways were paved, they were one lane,  drinking water is from a bottle,  reliably power is an oxymoron. We had left the conveniences of first world for the unmet need of the third.  Some people here survived on $2 a day, some even less, others profited thru graft on the generosity of the kind.  The experience taught me that aiding those in need is difficult without supervision on the ground.  In the short time we spent at the clinic, we could see that even though the temperature was not unbearably hot, dehydration, malnutrition, and illness from waterborne disease were common among those patrons of the Just Us Friend medical clinic.

The purpose of our short visit was to assist with a few projects already started at the Good Hope Orphanage and recently opened Just Us Friends Medical clinic.  While there, we were also going to get a look around and take a few days to explore the wildlife in surrounding national parks.  

In Tanzania, there is much confusion, not just from the language barrier but everyone talks about everything and it seems much is discussed during the day.  From time to time, at times seems to stand still, there are spaces and pauses to think and wait as schedule and direction change.  Since very few processes are automated or digital, it takes much longer to accomplish simple tasks and much team work needs to be employed.  They say “it takes a village.”  I now understand that saying.  Not surprisingly cell phones are plentiful.   

As a city, the city of Arusha is a busy town, which is struggling to modernize.  Car, Bicycles, safari vehicles, dala-dala (common taxis)  and workers pushing or pulling their loads of construction materials or produce, all share the road.   After we arrived to a warm welcome from the Just us Friends, founding doctor, Jasen Benton, we were off to the clinic and thru those busy streets.

While in Arusha we helped with some infrastructure type projects. I assisted with a drainage improvement project around the clinic.  The project re-routed water from the nearby CMU block plant  (neighbor) and move it away from the orpanage and down the driveway.   Additionally, the cooking shed was removed and an outside food prep area that typically became muddy was paved to drain.  We often visited town to eat or purchase supplies as well as investigate solar hot water and get the well water tested.  With the water test, we are one step closer to getting clean drinking water on the compound. Just as we were getting settled into the projects it was time to leave and see the beautiful nature and amazing animals just a few hours away.  We were truly blessed to be with a superb guide on Just Good Safari’s earlier trips and to see the abundance of wildlife.  We we returned 3 days later to Arusha we engaged Ben’s expertise (Green Living Planet) and set out on a team building project to planting a dozen banana trees and clean up of burn site.  While we were gone, Ben purchased trash barrels and I put together a drawing for a trash cart and storage unit.  Now there is an option for trash.

The most difficult part about the trip to Africa was coming home, not just the 4 stops on the way and and nearly 3o hours of travel.  It was: leaving the children we met  and grew to love at the Good Hope Orphanage in Arusha and the Kynongony Orphanage, the new friends and those on the team that works tirelessly to help those less fortunate.  Would I return to Africa again and again…you bet.

Just Us Friends is a Public Charity, home based in Arlington, Tx…

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JUSTUsFriends Visit Arusha

On October 5, 2011, Darrell, Fredda, Taylor, and Braeden Benton, Diane and Eugene Bell, Brenda deMartine, and Aeron Goldhart traveled to Arusha, TZ to attend the Grand Opening ceremonies of the new JustUsFriends Medical Clinic, “Loren’s Hope”.  After a long plane ride, we landed in Kilimanjaro Airport to be warmly greeted by our friends in Tanzania, Jasen, Lucas, Ben, Ally, Alli K, and Jigard.  They had arranged for us to breeze right through customs which was greatly appreciated after traveling for 20 hours and carrying sixteen bags full of supplies needed for the clinic and kids.  We so enjoyed finally getting to meet, in person, these friends who have been helping us on the ground for the last six months.

The following day, we traveled from Arusha to the GoodHope Compound, where the clinic is located, in a small village about 5 Km outside of Arusha known as Sombetini.  We found the clinic to be complete and to be the most beautiful building in the village.  I should stop right here and say that we were all amazed that Jasen and Ally have been able to accomplish the completion of our building in such a short time.  You see many unfinished building structures in Arusha, mostly due to the fact that financing is non-existent, so most people just build a little as they can afford it.  As everyone kept telling us, TIA (This is Africa).  No one gets in a hurry, We were all soon quoting quite frequently, the  saying from the Lion King, “Hakuna Matata” (no worry no problem)!

Our first day on the compound was full of hard work preparing for the next day Grand Opening Ceremony.  Taylor and Braeden, local children, Fatuma, and many others, helped put in lava walkpaths, which our friend Lit Anderson from New York had been busy getting built.  Lit had the property looking so beautiful when we arrived.  I am not sure how many trees and plants she planted, but well over 200.  By next Spring, the grounds are going to be a showcase.  Jigard worked hard that day getting the tents set up and band stand and PA system operable for our entertainment band, Warriors from the East.

Saturday, the festivities began.  There were over 411 who attended, including many children.  We had orphan children from Jane’s Kids, Living Waters, and GoodHope.  They all performed for us which was so wonderful.  I did not expect the children of Africa to know the song, “Found a Peanut”.  The Tanzania Minister of Health and Education spoke and honored JustUsFriends as being “pioneers” in our efforts in helping their children.  Two meals were served to all that attended that day and the party continued well into the night.  It was so wonderful.

The next week was spent going to markets to purchase items much needed for the compound.  We could not have done this without our friend Fatuma.  You have not lived until you shop at an African Market.  Fatuma was great at getting more bang for our buck! We purchased all the children new blankets, sheets, towels, sweaters, socks, underwear, shoes, pajamas, and material to have their uniforms made.  In addition, we purchased them a refrigerator, and water dispenser.

During our time on the compound, I must say, even though we were doing things to help them, we learned just as much from them.  These people are beautiful, loving grateful people, who are working very hard to make a difference in their lives.  They are extremely happy and unstressed.  Which is amazing when you see how hard it is to do anything in Africa.  Nothing comes easy.  I am so blessed to have them all in my life.  We are all one and family.

I would like to close with a paragraph written by our 11 year old Braeden who wrote a paper on his travels to Africa.  He states it best!

“What I learned from my trip was that happiness is not created in stuff, but with helping others who need it.  I will continue to do what little I can to help these kids get an education and learn how to be healthy so they can grow up and help their own.”

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Final Countdown

Well it is a little under two weeks before we leave for Arusha, TZ to attend the Grand Opening Ceremonies for the new medical clinic, “Loren;s Hope:.  All eight of us have been busy gathering needed medical and personal items for the clinic and children.  Jasen and Ally have ordered their items and had them shipped to us here in the states so we are packing them to carrying with us on the plane.  Since we are only allowed two bags per person, each of us are packing light (one bag) for our personal items and the second bag will be filled with items for the clinic, orphanage, and school.  I hope we can find laundry facilities in Arusha, because we are only going to be taking clothes for a few days and we will be staying there three weeks.  That should be very interesting.

Shipping items to Arusha is very challenging as the postal service is very unreliable, if even in existence.  There are no physical addresses in Arusha.  A typical address consists of the “White Building located next to the turkey farm on the right across from the Green Building”.  Needless to say, very few items seem to reach their destination through the postal service.  Some are lucky enough to actually have a post office box.  Unfortunately, JustUsFriends, has been on a waiting list going on four months now and have yet to receive one.  FedEx does deliver to Arusha and last night the new Tesla Lights left the United States headed to Africa.  They are due to arrive on October 4, 2011 and will be held at the FedEx office for us to claim when we arrive.  We would like to take a moment to give our sincere appreciation to Mark Hoffman and Aeron Goldhart with Tesla Corporation for making this possible.  These lights are going to be a huge addition to our clinic and we are so very grateful to Tesla Corporation.  If any of you have not had the pleasure of using Tesla Lights, we urge you to find an educator close to you and give them a try.  You will be glad you did!  You can find light educators through the Tesla website.

We posted a new video of the clinic construction activities on our JustUsFriends website. Here you will be able to view a work in progress by the locals.  Inside trim, painting, and window glass begins tomorrow and will go through Sunday.  They say we will be 100% complete and move-in ready by Wednesday of next week.  Our friends from New York, Greg and Lit Anderson, left the states today traveling to Arusha to begin the landscaping.  Thanks Greg and Lit, we know it will be beautiful.  We are so grateful to the many locals and our volunteers who have worked so hard to get this project accomplished.  It is really amazing to think that only 6 short months ago, the clinic was nothing more than a “thought“, just an idea.  We have been able to raise the money and construct the building using local labor and materials.  We have worked our way through language barriers, difference in building techniques, and communicated and supervised this project half-way around the world.  Jasen, Ally, and Jirard, You Rock!  We are so grateful to all of our friends, volunteers, and donors who have made this possible. Akubariki ! (God Bless)

Stay tuned, for next week we will be showing our completed project and last minute preparations for our African Adventure!  Until then…



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Loren’s Hope

In this week’s blog, I wanted to share with you a story of a young woman’s hope that is now going to be spread through the hearts of children across the world.

As most of you have read on our website by now, our dear friend, Loren Proctor Lucas, lost her four year long battle with breast cancer last week.  Being only 27 years of age, Loren was so much wiser than her age.  Loren taught school in Austin, Texas.   Children were her passion. Loren did not have an opportunity to have children of her own as she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the early age of 23.  She fought hard for these last four years never loosing “hope” and always looking for the positive outlook in everything.

Loren grew up with Jasen Benton, our main guy on the ground in Arusha, TZ.  Their two families were longtime family friends and when Jasen returned stateside in March of this year, his first weekend home he traveled to Austin to spend time with Loren and her fiancee, Brent.  It was a wonderful weekend and he brought gifts to Loren from Africa.  Loren hoped that when she was well enough, she would one day be able to travel to Africa and help JustUsFriends and Jasen with the children.

We can all learn something from Loren.  The one thing that Loren and JustUsFriends have in common is that we all want to go out of this world knowing we “gave back” in some small way.  Loren did that her entire life by her unconditional love she shared with her family, friends, and students.  Loren was a exceptional young lady that Got It!  She gave “hope” to all of us who knew her, even as her health began to decline, Loren never lost hope. We thank you Loren for reminding us what we are supposed to do while on this earth.  It is all about Love and Hope and making a difference in this world before you leave.
JustUsFriends is proud to announce that our new clinic, currently under construction in Arusha, TZ will be dedicated to Loren.  The new clinic will be known as “Loren;s Hope”.  Our “hope” is that thousands of children can receive “hope” for many years to come.  Thank you Loren, what a blessing you are!



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I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know

Tanzania is a country of 46 million people located in East Africa.  Important facts:

  • In 2004, less than 15,000 young people graduated from high school in the entire country.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people in villages across Tanzania have little access to adequate medical care.  Over twelve percent of all children die before the age of five.
  • Per capita income in Tanzania is less than a dollar a day making it impossible for most families to meet even the most basic of human needs.
  • The rural poor have little hope of ever escaping from poverty.
  • AIDS is creating a tragedy of momentuous proportions all across Tanzania.
  • There are today more than 1,100,000 orphans, the vast majority of whom have no hope of ever going to school.

This is why the new JustUsFriends Medical Clinic currently being constructed on the GoodHope Orphanage and School property is so needed.  The final touches are currently underway to complete the clinic.  Grand Opening of the clinic is slated for October 11, 2011.  We invite all our friends to come and join us!

We are so grateful for your donations!  To date we have received enough donations to complete the construction of the clinic, furnish it, and stock it with medical supplies.  We have utilized only local construction workers which has helped these families have a viable income to help support their own families.

There is so much more needed! However, JustUsFriends is all about teaching self`sustainability.  The folks at GoodHope and JustUsFriends are working together to educate, teach, and heal.  Mind, Body, Spirit!  You must heal all three to be successful. All our Friends at JustUsFriends can give yourself a pat on the back for helping change the lives of so many people.  With just our individual small donations, together, JustUsFriends is Helping Those Who Need It!

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Moving Right Along…

After our first week treating kids in Arusha, we had exactly 200 new medical files for the 200 children we completed check-ups on.  This past Monday, Jasen went back to Arusha to begin files on the kids at Good Hope.  After three days of work, Jasen was able to start medical files and give each of the 130 kids at Good Hope a complete medical check-up.  We are happy to report that for the most part the kids are in great health!  Now that we have files on all of the children we can track their health more accurately and treat them accordingly in the future.

Since our work with Jane’s Orphan Center and Living Water Orphanage and School a couple of weeks ago, word has spread about the work JustUsFriends is doing.  As you can imagine, medical care is a luxury for many here in Tanzania.  We’ve been contacted by another 4 orphanages and children’s center who have requested their children (over 700 of them!) be seen by JustUsFriends.  Finding a balance between treating those in need and being careful not to take on more than we can handle is not always easy.  What we do know is that this is what we are here to do – to treat children who cannot get treatment elsewhere.  While at this time we will not be able to complete check-ups on each of these kids on a monthly basis, we have agreed to treat any of the children who are sick and need medical care.  JustUsFriends is committed to doing anything within its power to care for any child in need – thanks to our Friends who support us, we are truly making a difference in the health of the children in Arusha, Tanzania.

For many of the children we see, just the simple fact that we take 5 minutes to complete a check-up – sick or not – means the world to them.  Thanks to your help we are able to give them something more than medical care – kindness and attention.

The medical clinic is still coming along and we are more excited than ever to be nearing its completion.  The outside walls are completely finished and the floors are almost done.  We’ll have new pictures up for you within the next 24 hours.

We hope you know how truly grateful everyone here is for the support you are giving them.  We have no completed 330 medical check-ups and have 330 files started on the children we saw!  This in itself is a HUGE accomplishment and we couldn’t have done it without you.  We are sending you “Upendo Sana!!!”  (much love) from the kids…



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What we’re up to in Tanzania

Wow.  It has been an incredibly busy – and exciting – week here in Tanzania.  The construction on the clinic is moving along quite well.  All in all, I’d say the builders are moving quite quickly compared to the usual pace of “Tanzanian Time.”  At this time the interior walls are being finished so that we can paint soon.  New pictures on the progress will be on the blog shortly.

As for Jasen and the rest of us volunteers, we’ve spent the past 5 days travelling to a few different orphanages in the city completing medical check-ups and medical histories on the kids we will be serving over the coming years.  At this time we’ve committed to supporting 3 different orphanages at 5 different locations.  In total, there are approximately a little over 400 children at these orphanages.  Thursday was our first day doing the medical check-ups.  We came up with a pretty solid system to move the kids from one station to the next and saw 14 kids the first afternoon.  Friday we were able to give exams to 44 children.  And yesterday, we saw 100 children!  Each of the 158 children has a complete medical file with their name, height, weight, date of birth, blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and a description of the current state of their health.  Excited doesn’t even begin to describe how happy we are that we’ve accomplished so much this week.

Today is a new day and we have another 100 children waiting to see us today.  Then tomorrow and Tuesday we will see the kids at Good Hope and the older children at one of the orphanages we visited Friday.  Over the course of the past few days Jasen has seen children with sinus infections, ear infections, skin irritations and much more.  The need here is so great.  Had JustUsFriends not been able to visit these orphanages many of these children would not have been treated.

One of the hardest things about the work that we are doing is that there is always someone else that needs our help.  Word is already spreading about what JustUsFriends is doing here in Arusha.  Directors from several orphanages have contacted us requesting that we visit their children, as well.  It is a struggle to find the balance needed to maintain proper care for the children we have already committed to without turning away those who desperately need help.  In many ways, the completion of the clinic will be a blessing to many of the orphans here in Arusha.  While we may not have the manpower or financial ability to travel to more of the orphanages on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to check up on the kids, we will have a facility that opens its doors to any of their children in need of medical help.

What we have been doing over the past few days is what JustUsFriends is all about – it is the reason it was started in the first place.  I wish you could see for yourself how excited the children are when they see us pull up to the centers.  In many ways it is my favorite part of the day.  We can’t thank you enough for your support.  You are truly improving the quality of life for these kids.

Please take a moment to read about our first day of medical check-ups here in Arusha.  The following is an excerpt from the blog of one of our volunteers:

Today we went to Jane’s Orphan Center.  I met the director, a woman named Jane, who shared with me the story of why she started the center:

“I started the center because my husband and I found out we could not have children.  I cried out to my God and He said, ‘Look around you.  There are children everywhere who need you.’  So I took one of them in.  And then another.  Soon we had several children under our care.  But we were struggling to feed them and provide for them.  So I cried out to my God again, saying I could not care for all of these children.  He responded – and gave me more children to care for!  But he also provided for them.  I met a woman who committed to supporting the center and we were able to care for the children.  After some time, we began to struggle and I cried to my God again, ‘God I am struggling.  We do not have the means to feed and clothe these children.’  When I opened my eyes, God brought more children to my doorstep!  But He has provided. I am also listening to my sister – she told me not to cry out to God anymore saying that we can’t do it!!”

Sometimes it is easy to focus on what is not getting done here.  Or who isn’t doing what they said they would.  Or what isn’t going the way I had planned.  And then I meet people like Jane.  She reminds me to focus on what is being done!  Jane has over 200 kids in her care now…in only 6 short years.  She and her husband could not have biological children of their own.  But instead, they are directly changing the lives of more people than many of us could ever hope to positively impact.  I wish you could all meet Mama Jane and her children so that you could see for yourselves what I am finding difficult to convey to you in words.

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Tesla Energy Lights

In our last post I told you how excited we are that we are on our way to bringing Tesla Energy Lights to the new clinic at Good Hope.  Many of you may not have even processed what that was, let alone what these lights will be able to do for our kids.  I thought it might be helpful to take a minute to explain to you how beneficial these lights will be to the health and wellness of the children of Good Hope.

Tesla Energy Lights provide a natural alternative to healing.  As they have not yet been approved by the FDA, Tesla has to be careful about the types of claims it makes regarding the lights.  We, however, don’t have to be quite so careful.  Many of our Friends have experienced what could be considered miraculous healing after the use of these lights.  One Friend’s eyesight was restored.  Another Friend used the lights and her stage 4 cancer was eradicated.  In another case, a Friend’s thyroid was rebuilt.  The Tesla Energy Lights have the amazing ability to jump-start one’s immune system and aid the body in natural healing.  JustUsFriend’s believes that if the Tesla Energy Lights can do so many amazing things for people in the U.S., they can also aid in the healing of our patients in Tanzania.  Malaria can be effectively and safely treated, parasites destroyed and wounds healed.

I’m not a scientist and I won’t pretend to be, but take a moment to visit Tesla Energy Lights website and see for yourself.  There are some great videos on the site that will explain in better terms than I can, what a great help these lights will be to the children JustUsFriends is serving in Tanzania.  We are so excited that we will be well-equipped to treat those who come to us for help!

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