From Donations to Done Deeds

My dad has always told me in life “You’ll never know the answer unless you ask.”
Well I asked and you all delivered and I’m so grateful.
In order to get to Tanzania I did a lot of babysitting to raise funds to cover my flight, room and board, and living expenses here in TZ, and luckily some donations from friends and family covered what I couldn’t. But that didn’t leave me with a whole lot to use for donations or projects, in fact, it left me with about 70 dollars (besides the donation used for the “Happy Teeth Center”).
But I knew I had SS friends and family (selfless and supportive) so I knew that if I found a need they would do their best to help me fill it. But first I needed to find a need and figure out how it could best be filled.
Well when you ask God to find you a need, better believe He’ll deliver.

As you know the nursery school has been a project really close to my heart and there I found so many ways to help. But also many structural changes needed to be made to make this center better, safer, and more hygienic for the kids. Sooooooo I made a GoFundMe page that collected over $1000 thanks to my amazing friends and family. Without further ado- here is where your donations went. 🙂

Car:

The van used daily to transport 20 young children and 4 staff (yes it is an 8 seater…) had a windshield full of cracks snaking across the entire front of it. Additionally the steering system was out of whack and shook badly, along with tires that desperately needed to be rotated. With the donation money a brand new windshield was installed and the steering system fixed and wheels rotated. This is such a HUGE deal as it has increased the safety of the children’s daily transport so much! Previously the van was not able to go to town because police check points are rampant here. A simple thing like not having a fire extinguisher in your vehicle can get you a 10,000 shilling ticket, so imagine what kind of ticket a terribly cracked windshield could get you. Now the van can be used to get groceries and supplies in town!:)

After! A lovely new windshield

Cracked before

 

Water: Before, each child was maybe getting half a cup of water to drink and they were having to share cups right after each other. Now each child has their own water bottle container. Bigger ones for the older kids, and sippy cups for the young ones. A random guy in town asked me what I was looking for and when I told him about the bottles he took me to a small store and when the woman there heard the cause, she gave a discount!The cups have been labeled as well and now the children can ask for clean drinking water whenever they please. 

Mattresses: super excited about this!

So again the story behind this is a little miraculous. I took the bus to find a little vegetarian restaurant I’d heard about that was in a garden in the middle of the city. When I got to town I didn’t know the way and someone came up to wanting me to buy a safari. I said no( people try to get you to book safaris allllll the time). A friend of his then offered to walk me to the restaurant because his sister worked there. I was suspicious but since it was in the middle of the bustling town with lots of people around and the middle of the day I agreed. Turns out he was legit and the restaurant was awesome. He hung around and after he’d heard I was looking for mattresses he suggested I look in town today to get some prices. I agreed that was a good idea but said I would go by myself and had no money to give him. He said no problem and found another friend to take me to the wholesale mattress stores for free. I was suspicious the whole time but in the end this turned out to be such a blessing! He knew of all the mattress stores, ones tucked away in the center of town, and was able to bargain in Swahili for me to where we got the mattresses for a steal! The next day I came back to buy them and a parent from the nursery school offered their car for me to transport them. Another blessing because no way was I carrying 11 mattresses on the bus! Fitted sheets are not a thing in Tanzania and so I had a local tailor come and make fitted sheets out of extra curtain fabric the nursery director had sitting around in his house and office. One thing that was super cool was that the nursery school director had told the tailor to take my measurements by sight only and the next day I was surprised with a custom made suit (THAT FIT PERFECTLY AMAZINGLY).

All together 10 mattresses were purchased and 1 crib mattress!

Huge improvement from 3 mattresses for 30 children! It is the perfect amount since the children take naps in two shifts.

Before: kids having to have nap time on the hard floor

Before: the older kids all having to share one of the 4 mattresses

The mattress store: definitely looked a lil sketchy and I almost didn’t go in because it was in the back of an alleyway but turned out to be good people with great prices!

All these fitted sheets were handmade by a tailor who responded to our last minute call and had them done in hours! 

After 🙂 enough mattress for all

School supplies:

I’m blessed to have amazing parents and they brought over two suitcases FULL of donations! Colored pencils and crayons are really poor quality here and don’t last long at all but now the classroom is stocked with a ton of Crayola crayons, markers, and colored pencils. A friend from high school’s mom just retired from being a teacher and was kind enough to donate two large train sets and several educational puzzles. My cousin in Canada who is a kindergarten teacher as well shipped over tons of worksheets and lesson plans. Additionally I used donation money to purchase reading books, alphabet books, writing books, and story books in Swahili. Coworkers of my father donated brown and black baby dolls (it’s really important for kids to have access to toys that look like them, and not think that the only dolls are blond barbies. Representation is very important.)

Nursery school teacher Madam Rachel just thrilled about all her new classroom supplies 🙂

Kitchen sink:

Previously the nannies were having to wash over 60 plates and pots a day crouched over a bucket using water that came out of a pipe close to the floor. Now they have a full kitchen sink complete with wooden storage cabinet. Additionally an entire box of 70 bars of dish soap and about 20 sponges were purchased.

Before: no sink, washing dishes was really difficult

Bathroom sink:

So while hand washing was instituted before lunchtime, after the bathroom it still was no such thing. In part because there was no sink. The same plumber who installed both the Teeth Center and kitchen sinks installed a sink right in the bathroom so now hand washing is being implemented.
*Cool fact *

Both the kitchen sink and bathroom sink were old sinks the director had in storage so we were able to save some costs there! Woohoo 

Outdoor hand washing:

When the children are playing outside or in the classroom their only toilet option is an outhouse outside. A hand washing tap was set up outside so that after using the toilet the children can cleanse their hands.

Chicken coop:

My parents donated funds to build a chicken coop and other donations purchased the chickens and final building supplies!

An old shed of sorts on the property was full of junk, which was really a safety hazard. Parts of the shed were reconstructed into building material for the coop and also an outdoor kitchen for the nannies. This is really a great project because not only will the chickens provide eggs for the kids and great source of protein in the diet but also when there are enough chicks the eggs can be sold as a source of revenue for the center.

In this picture I’m wearing the custom made suit the tailor surprised me with. Such a great moment when my parents got to see the coop!


Chickens happy in their new home!

Outdoor kitchen that was created from the scraps of the junk shed. 

One of the nannies happy to be cooking in the new outdoor kitchen!

Food:

At the moment the center is really struggling with food so I spent the last day in Arusha running around the town market with my parents and our taxi driver purchasing food supplies. Over 100 pounds of rice were purchased, along with beans, sweet potatoes, mangos, corn flour for ugali, lentils and peanut butter. Additionally storage containers for the rice, beans, and flour were purchased along with new mops for cleaning and a trash can with a lid for the kitchen. With food costs taken care of for a few months the center can concentrate on saving their funds and better utilizing them in the future.

Wooden toy chests:

I wanted to make sure the toys were used and didn’t just stay locked up in a room so some of the donations went towards the construction of wooden toy chests that can be kept in the main play room, easily accessible and constantly available.
Fridge/breast pumps:

I met a mother here who just had triplets! They were born 3 months premature and I started spending one night a week there helping with the night shift so the mother could get some sleep. It would be such a help to the mother if she could simply use a breast pump, store milk in the fridge and then get a little more sleep as a family member could simply warm the milk and feed the children. Additionally she is a single mother and needs to go back to work as a teacher, so this way she can leave food behind for her babies with family or nannies. Your donation money helped me buy a small fridge for her and the baby’s room. My mom brought one pump and a cousin donated another as backup! A post on a Facebook group of moms from my hometown who all have twins and triplets, it’s called “Moms of Multiples”, got tons of baby clothes, bibs, and bottles donated! They made their way to Tanzania and the mom was blown away!!! The babies are extremely tiny (2 pounds is the littlest one!) and they were in 3 month clothing- much too big for them so this new clothing will be such a help. 🙂 

Such a nice moment when my dad got to meet the triplets.

Nasra and her three triplet boys- Isaac, Ishmael, and Ibrahim. They’ve come a long way from weighing 900 grams at birth! 


Salaries:

Finalllly,

Unfortunately the center’s funds were at a slight standstill as the center is extremely flexible with payments for childcare as many of the mothers are barely making ends meet. This unfortunately meant that the nannies had not been paid for the last month of work. I was assured that the funds for the next months salary would be in order, and I used the remainder of the donation money to pay the balance of the salaries as most of the nannies are mothers themselves with mouths dependent on them for food. 

The lovely nannies.

Wall paintings:

Grateful for Florida International University student Robinson being willing to donate his time and money to paint this room for the kids 🙂

In closing:

None of this would have been possible without your donations and prayers. I’m so so grateful and I hope you see and feel that it was put to good use. These changes to the center will live on and continue to transform the children’s lives on a daily basis, contributing to better health and enriched and stimulated minds.

Proverbs 3:27 says “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.”

I thank you for acting. You’re responsible for smiles like the one below.

Meet Benjamin.

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