"Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. Put there just a spark. If there is some good inflammable stuff, it will catch fire."
Anatole France

Week 1 – Back to School!

By Mary on 7-01-2014

Hello everyone!

So it’s the start of another school year for the ACE children and it’s as busy as ever! Unfortunately both Blandina and I have Typhoid, and I am lucky enough to also have a kidney infection, so things have been a bit tricky these past few days getting the kids back to school and buying all their supplies, in between bouts of sickness. We are back into it today hopefully, catching up on lost time. The word from Lachie is that school at Haradali was chaotic yesterday, with all of the children being organised into their different classes. You can imagine the chaos!

Blandina and I have spent the past week shopping for the boarding supplies for this year and buying stationery for all the children. All of this we get in bulk from the wholesaler because it’s cheaper and then blandina distributes it to the children throughout the year, to avoid spending too much on lost or stolen items. For anybody who is interested in knowing the exact requirements of each child, day and/or boarding, we would be happy to send through a list as this may help to clarify the school fees somewhat. If I didn’t run such a risk of being robbed, or insulting every Tanzanian in Arusha, I would very much enjoy attaching a video camera to my shoulder so you could all experience what it’s like shopping at the central markets for hundreds of stationery items, toiletries and boarding equipment and kilos and kilos of washing liquid for all of the children, all while avoiding the numerous mamas trying to sell me tomatoes, or the hawkers trying to convince me I really need to buy their cheap plastic watches and hairbrushes from china, the man insisting I need a new steering wheel, which I can select from the 10 he has strung around his neck and shoulders, or having a conversation with the young street kid watching our car whose name is Vinnie and insists he 15 years old when he actually looks about 11, and accepts 50c for 2 hours keeping guard with a smile bigger than his face. These excursions usually end up with me waiting in the car because both blandina and I get sick of fighting the vendors for raising the price as soon as they see the white woman. Still, it’s all part of the fun, and it’s easier to laugh then cry!

This will be the first year of secondary for our 3 students from shepherds that did really well and managed to pass the form 1 entrance exam at the end of grade 6 last year. Congratulations to Maulidi, Livistone and Flora for their hard work and commitment! We have no doubts that they will do super well and try extra hard at secondary to make up for skipping grade 7, and to make us and their sponsors proud. These 3 students really are something special, showing us that when you put your mind to something and you really work hard for it you can achieve whatever you want.   They are great role models for our younger ACE students, and we are honoured to have them in our programme. Myself, I am so happy to have these 3 beautiful young adults as a part of my life. They really teach me so much and bring so much positive energy to their surroundings.

At Haradali this year we have Flora Ezekiel in grade 7, and Andrea William at Davis who will be graduating at the end of this year, so a huge GOOD LUCK to them and we will be supporting them all the way! We also have several grade 6 students who may have the opportunity to skip to form 1 next year if they can try hard enough and really excel, so knuckle down and work hard, and remember to have fun! From Shepherds we have Faraja Jophert, from Haradali there is Teddy, Samueli Lucus, Joshua Bariki, Amani Palangyo, Goodluck David and Eunice Paulo. I plan on organising a chat with these older kids (now that the ‘young adults’ have moved to secondary campus) about the importance of being good role models for the younger students and encouraging them to succeed. Blandina and I would also like to implement a Buddy programme, where we pair the older students with younger ones who need some guidance and encouragement throughout the year. We understand that in a programme with as many children as ACE (69 now!) it is possible that some children can feel like they are slipping through the cracks, so we will do whatever it takes to ensure this doesn’t happen and to make sure the children know they are all important to us and are all part of the family.

This year, Haradali has brought in new uniforms, with a special logo on the front of the sweater and shirt. This means that all students must have 2 new sets of uniforms which cost a total of 100,000tsh (approximately 65USD). This is a huge cost, and we are working with the school to figure out a discount, and/or a way that we can pay only for the branded items and have the other items made elsewhere for cheaper, to minimize the costs for you guys, the sponsors, and also to ACE for the children we support that currently don’t have sponsors. We are meeting a bit of resistance from the school, but I am positive we will work something out that benefits us all. Keep an eye out for school fee invoices over the next few days, there may or may not be a uniform charge, depending on whether I can sort out a deal at this end. Regardless of how hard I try, everybody else here is on Africa time, so we do our best to get information out to you as soon as we can, but we thank you for being patient – we understand it can be frustrating!

This year we will be concentrating on applying to organisations that provide funds for NGOs to try and get some extra help, so we can implement more programmes involving pastoral care, like the one we did for the girls in December.  Hopefully we will find some magical donor that wants to fund us for the rest of eternity! But in the meantime, we will continue to fundraise and search for sponsors. Maybe one day I will be able to find a way to support myself to live and work here doing this job that I love so that you guys can get updates like these all the time and the kids can benefit from a more personal connection to their sponsors, as well as support for Blandina, but in the meantime the commuting shall continue and we shall love from afar!

We have one new addition to the programme this year, Godlizen Isaya. He is the younger brother of Emmanuel Isaya, and will be staring at Haradali day in grade 1. So karibu sana Lizen! Currently in the programme, we have 7 children needing full sponsorships, and 15 children needing part sponsorships to help cover the remaining fees. We are constantly canvassing for sponsor and fundraising opportunities to help cover these costs, (please email if you would like a copy of the list of children that need sponsorships) so we would love if you could all reach out to friends, family, neighbours, strangers even for any help we can get – this makes it easier on all of us and it also helps to spread awareness about the benefits of a decent education and how it can really change lives for the better:) thank you all so much for your support, we appreciate it so much – without you we wouldn’t be where we are today! And that’s not just the sponsors, although admit it – you guys are AWESOME, but also to anybody who has donated, all the anonymous one off contributions, and even the messages of support. It all means so much and every little bit helps!

Thank you so much again to all of you, I can’t express enough how much it means to these kids to have the opportunity of an education, and of a life they never even dreamed they could have. So positive energy and love to you all, keep on inspiring and sharing the love – this is the Year of AWESOME so let’s make it one to remember!

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Asante Sana!