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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