Iringa: A Closer View

I was swilling coffee with my Mzungu ladies’ group last week when the topic turned to the skewed impression most Westerns have of Africa. “Mud houses, on arid tundra, and wildlife is what everybody mistakenly thinks comprise the continent,” all agreed, and “what’s wrong with mud houses anyway?”
I offered to do my bit, with camera in hand, to adjust the image to a more accurate depiction.
First, on the subject of mud houses, let it be noted that they are cool in the summer, warm in the winter and can have a history of ten or more years withstanding wind and rain, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they once were.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Many homes are now made of mud bricks, akin to adobe bricks. This type of architecture is popular in the villages and throughout the region.
Our friend, Philly’s is roomy, comfortable and has a lovely view not unusual in Iringa.IMG_2547IMG_2565
Some homes are quite traditional and have beautiful gardens like Liz’s and her husband, Jobst. Theirs is an interesting story as many are here. Liz’s parents came from the UK in her early childhood to follow her father’s banking career. When he was four, in the 1920s, Jobst‘s parents emigrated to Africa to escape the severe depression which was dominating the German Economy after WW I. They procured a significant amount of acreage to start a farm. . He speaks of the amazing adjustment of his mother to farm life from her upbringing in affluent German society and of his father to becoming a farmer with no prior experience in agriculture.
During that period, Tanzania had been taken from German rule by the post war treaty and put under British administration. Later, Jobst’s father’s anti Hitler stance during the pre world war 11 years caused him some business related economic loss in the local German community but ultimately, as the conflict heated up, spared his family from being removed from their farm to a war enemy encampment .
As an adult, Jobst spent his career supervising building projects; their house, which he has modified, attests to his talent for architecture. Their garden is a monument to Liz’s marvelous ability with floral landscape design. The pictures below are of the house, the garden, and Liz and Jobst with Dr. Corrado on a field trip with our English language class. Corrado’s reward for good study was the delicious pleasure of tea served by this very charming, hospitable couple.
Liz and Jobst home (12)Liz and Jobst home (2)IMG_2751

Liz and Jobst home (1)liz and jobst home

Some housing, like ours, is large and comfortable, if rather industrial, with a fair amount of live stock near the premises.
IMG_2799IMG_2803Livestock (2)
Livestock (1)IMG_2546

True, many of our roads are mud, and cars do get stuck in the rainy season, but they do have their charm as this one on which I walk to Global Outreach, with a couple of side tracks, illustrates:
IMG_2704IMG_2543 - CopyGardenIMG_2556
Fantastic treeIMG_2723

International School (22)IMG_2703
And when I do arrive at Kitchangani and see Stan, we are treated to more flowers and some great opportunities for education making a little mud on my shoes seem a trivial irritation:
IMG_2705
IMG_2715
The University of Iringa might also surprise the crowd with the tunnel mud hut/ wild life vision of Africa with its pretty typical administration bldg, class rooms , dorm rooms punctuated by the indigenous perfect tree . 143 a =”https://bettymuessleblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/2.jpg”>25

Of course, the more stereotypical picture of dry tundra –like settings with simpler house constructions has ample representation throughout the Iringa region as well as African continent generally. It is just not the totality of the environment which is remarkably fecund , and while wild life abounds in the national parks, it does not on city streets unless you take in to consideration a husband or two of the Mzungu women who live in the area and therefore shall remain nameless!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hope to Despair to Hope Again; the ever emotional roller coaster that is Africa.

I started the week with one of my most favorite activities here, attending the children’s mass. The church is packed children, many quite young. They are for the most part very well behaved. If someone does get out line or tarry before entering a pew, a designated usher, known by the striped oblong of fabric draped diagonally across his chest, is there to toss the laggard into his seat or reprimand aberrant behavior. Size and culture make this a rather mild action, but it is enough to cause an impartial observer to chuckle.

The choir is a sight to behold and a wonderful earful to hear. It seems as talented, if less practiced, as the adult choir which performs at other services. Their joy, enthusiasm and ability to engage all the children in the church  is an inspiration and an emotional enticement to feel  that all work being done in TZ  is worthwhile. The gusto of the group, led by a director who in height barely clears the altar rail, and their rhythmic swaying and  swinging, as they render hymns to convey spirituality combined with harmony would energize the most lethargic of church attendees. I wish the camera could do a better job catching the charisma of these halleluiah song birds, and I am committed to videoing them before my return, but til then I hope this picture gives the viewer a sense of what I speak.

Children Choir Blog(7)

The upward swing on which this experience usually leaves me, reversed when I met with Dr Corrado on Monday for his English language lesson, and he shared with me recent happenings at the hospital. A few days prior, a woman and her three children were admitted with headache, vomiting and in general debilitated state of listlessness. She reported that they had picked and eaten mushrooms immediately before becoming ill. The three boys were put in Dr. C’s ward; the mother was taken to adult wing to be cared for by the Tanzanian staff. After initial evaluation, Dr C started to question the mushroom ingestion connection. He decided to treat for malaria, and the boys responded positively. When he went to the mother’s ward to report the finding, the staff informed him that she had died. The most remarkable aspect of the announcement, he observed, was the lack of emotion with which they made the report. He had expected, if not sorrow for the death itself, at least some angst over the fatal misdiagnosis.

As we puzzled over the lack of reaction, a scenario came to mind from the 1990’s in the US. My daughter, volunteering in the Hugh O’Brien Leadership program, was guiding a group of inner city high school students, selected for demonstrated leadership traits, to a hotel on the south side of DC for a weekend of seminars and development exercises. While they were gathered in the hotel foyer, a man was shot on the street directly in their line of vision. My daughter was sickened and appalled, but the students showed little change of affect. It occurred to her that though this was her first time seeing someone mowed down, it was not theirs and that their past experiences were inuring them to reacting to the incident with horror. Dr C and I, and others I have spoken to, conclude that we are witnessing the same principle at work here in Tanzania. Death and disease are so frequent that, as one friend put it, that  they tend to be  expected and accepted with little emotional upset conveying  a sort of a business as usual mentality.

Dr. C recounted three others of this week’s cases, with less than fatal outcomes but still heart rendering. One was of a boy who came in with a fractured limb and a resulting open wound. His family had treated the wound with traditional method of placing a piece of raw meat on it. The wound became infected resulting in a need to amputate. I have a picture of the infected hand which is too gruesome to share so instead I will show you one of the child smiling with his new stump. Dr C is looking for a prosthetic for him.(In the other picture, Dr C and staff help a young patient adjust to the hospital environment.)

20140326_09570220140312_104904

Another laid in the description of a child with a fractured leg surrounded by a very large liquid filled blister. Querying the parents as to the origin of the blister, he discovered they had poured boiling water on the limb as an attempted cure.

The third, captured in a picture, is of a child with two broken legs:

Carrado 1

Fractures are treated with traction, in this case for three months, because  plaster casts are calculated as too expensive. The price the child pays a significant price for lack of mobility.

Combined with the high incidence of severe, often deadly, malnutrition of the under five age group and of HIV in both the adult and infant population, which I described in the Nuances of Tanzania post, these instances paint a depressing, heart wrenching picture.

The Inertia and passive acceptance with which it is met by those affected is a posture which  we suspect arises from a poverty of material means, a poverty of a vision, and a wealth of experience of witnessing suffering and death.

The bleakness of this picture might seem without remedy but for several realizations.

Education can address most of these issues and  this country, unlike so many others, does not have the internal  strife or civil war to impede its delivery.

The Children hurt by their family attempt at home remedy are victims of ignorance not malice or abuse.

Those suffering from malnutrition are living in fertile land where there are options to a better diet at arm’s length if those options are identified and utilized.

HIV is a preventable and containable if people are more aware of its causes and treatments.

Other diseases, like malaria, which has a high rate of fatality here, can be caught and easily cured in early stages if sufferers know what symptoms to suspect.

There are a numerous  organizations and individuals who have come to try to make a difference.

Global Outreach is doing its part in training students, the hope of the future, to use the internet and providing access to it. This week, I witnessed young people surfing such issues as standard treatment for concussion, symptoms of malaria, suggestions for evaluating early childhood development stages and scholarship opportunity in the field of Public Health. In a location  where regular medical care is hours away by bus, being able to attain basic information is crucial. The woman with the concussion , for instance, learned from NIH website that rest is the recommendation for recovery for less than severe concussions. Based on that, she did not take the 9 hr trip to Dar, closest point for professional assessment, risking a significant setback, to garner the same information. She is now  recovered.

Below; Head of School at St Joseph’s , a secondary  school recently brought on board and computerized  by GO. Pictured is Head of school, Stan and  Grayson, who is teaching Microsoft Office to the teachers who are seated.

St joseph school Stan and Grayson

Bega Kwa Bega,(shoulder to shoulder) is a Lutheran organization which has paired sixty -six parishes in the Twin Cities of St Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota with as many sister parishes here. Groups of their parishioners, often accompanied by their pastor come to visit on a continual basis. They go to villages bringing special skills and knowledge. They mingle with the local people exchanging wisdoms. Leaders tell us that there are more MN parishes which are in the process of hooking up.

BKB has established a university, and supports  five secondary schools and a hospital in the Iringa Region. They offer many substantial scholarships for aspiring students.

They are providing considerable education both formally and informally.

UNICEF and countless NGOs are here as well as the individuals whom I describe in the Interesting People I Have Met   and Leading Tanzanians posts are here trying help with education. Unicef has estimated that there are 35,000 children with severe malnutrion in the Iringa area and have initiated  a program to identify them.

In an effort to add to these efforts, Dr. Corrado and I have decided to collaborate on a nutrition awareness prevention project. Knowing the extraordinary size of  attendance at church services throughout the Iringa Region, we plan to ask pastors of all denominations  to use the pulpit to do a piece on  properly feeding children, as they finish breast feeding, with  fruits, vegetables, and when available eggs, milk and chicken , replacing the easily consumed , empty ugali (flour and water mixture) which now often compromises the totality of toddler diet. We will ask them to stress the moral component emphasizing that feeding  children is as important as feeding male adults.

These purveyors have an added advantage of knowing what is available in their villages; therefore, they can tailor recommendations to available produce.

We will do the same with the schools and prepare instructions for the hospitals to give to mothers leaving pediatrics and maternity wards.

Indicative of infrastructure issues in Africa, our largest challenge will be printing instructions for handing out. Paper and copy machines are in such short supply here that costs dictate a need to produce the leaflets in the States. We then must find people who are coming willing to carry packets because postage for mailing of such weighty items is prohibitive. These obstacles, inconceivable in the Western World, are typical of the mundane considerations that are part of daily life here. Until we are able to overcome them, we will provide pastors, hospital and school administrators, and other appropriate staff with World Nutrition Guide Standards to modify specifically to produce in  their areas  and verbally advise family members, which in of itself , we believe, will constitute  a meaningful step forward. While we appreciate protein deficiency will persist in many cases, the lack of  needed vitamins will become less of a detriment.

We will do the same with the schools and prepare similar instructions for the hospitals to give to mothers leaving pediatrics and maternity wards.

These thoughts and actions, while we regard the first picture in this post , the ones below, and the dozens of  children wherever we venture, make us take heart and start once again on an upward swing.

IRINGA (112) IRINGA (113) Mothers with babies IMG_2516 Blog roller coaster Blog baby Children mass (1) Iringa Town Center (39) Iringa Town Center (38)Children mass (3)

IRINGA (109) IRINGA (112) IRINGA (107)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Few Leading Tanzanians

Bishop Tarcisius, the recognized leading Catholic prelate in Tanzania and Stan’s significant supporter of the growth of education, was born in a rural village. He told us that his father was a poor man, “never owned a goat”. The Bishop had six siblings. His father, who had no education, encouraged his children in its pursuit. The Bishop attended a missionary school where he was selected at a very young age to serve on the altar, given special mentoring in his studies, and offered a place in seminary in Rome when he graduated from secondary school.   He told us that he did not know why they picked him. Given his high degree of warmth and charisma, we could readily suspect the reason.  For one who has initiated or facilitated the creation of countless institutions including churches, schools, hospitals, and charities and is accountable for them all, he is a remarkably enthusiastic, easy going, joyful, approachable man of the people. He is, by many counts, a walking inspiration. His expression, pictured below, selected from a multitude of similar ones, belies his love of children.

Bishop with Milan

One of the most visited, local, facilities under his umbrella is a cooking school run by another notably cheerful individual, a nun of the Italian Consolata order, Sister Adolfino Dotta. She works with girls from the attached orphanage as they come of age. People from the area come to purchase their products which include, pork roasts, ravioli, pasta, tomato sauce and a plethora of cookies and cakes. It is a delightful operation to visit and a treat to patronize.

Sister Adolfino DottaConsolata Cooking School (3)Consolata Cooking School (4)Consolata Cooking School (5)

While not officially Tanzanian, Sister has lived in country so long, from 1963, and helped so many that I must include her on the list of leading Tanzanians.

Orphanage for 24 children,part of the Consolata complex

IMG_2487

Last week, Alban Lutamabi invited us to spend a weekend at his resort in Mufindi, African tea country. When we arrived at the village , he offered to introduce us to his parents and show us the house in which he grew up. A bright, outgoing couple, they shared that they were 78 yrs old and had raised six children.Two years ago, they lost his father’s mother who died at 105 yrs of age.  In recent years , Alban, also pictured, has provided them with running water, electricity and a TV. They seemed quite comfortable and happy in their warmly decorated one room lvg space.Alban with Mother and FatherAlbin's house 2

We have  realized  that Alban is  bright and now, after visiting with his parents, we deduced that apple had not fallen far from the trees. Stan has known Alban for a number of years, meeting him initially as a fellow Rotarian at the Iringa chapter. One of Alban’s initial entrepreneurial endeavors was building a resort, appropriately named Hilltop given its setting, near to Ruaha’s national game parks.  It is an attractive, comfortable lodge  with a striking view, offering daily game runs , based on the same model of many of the in- park facilities, but because of its less expensive location, he is able to meet one of his objectives, creating a place more affordable for Tanzanians as well as tourists.  A few years after its opening, a fire swept through destroying most of it; insurance does not exist here so Alban needed to garner his resources to rebuild which, characteristically, he managed to patiently and persistently do.

The lodge he has constructed in Mufindi where we had the pleasure of staying also has a very picturesque venue. It is constructed on Alban’s father’s former farm amidst rolling green hills which are a delight to view from the breakfast table on the deck.

Blog viewDeck blog

IMG_2292IMG_2261

Room in our cabana

Betty and Stan snug in Lodge

Vegetation and fruit trees abound on the property. A few examples:

Hot house tomatoes

 Tomatoes Blog veg

IMG_2307Herb Garden

African palm and herb garden above.

During our stay, we visit one of the famous tea factories and fields:

Tea Factory-blog IMG_2450

Alban is building another lodge cabana configuration at Mukumi, a national game park; if the cuisine is as delicious as it is at this one, guests are in for a treat.

But Alban is not all business; his other endeavor added a most interesting dimension to our stay. He and a partner have formed an NGO missioned to provide a water tank and 200 fruit tree plantings at local schools. So far, they have completed six campuses. The intention is to employ the water tank to catch pure rain water helping the villagers with the ever present challenge of accruing enough water for daily needs and to teach the students how to plant, reap crops and appreciate their nutritional value.

Children at water tank Guava tree

Above are pictures from one school. Water tank can be seen behind the students carrying the filled buckets on their heads. Schools receive six varieties of plantings including guava, avocado,mango  and apple trees.

Apple Tree IMG_2360

Children sing us a good bye song at one school sing us a farewell song:

    School children sing us a song
Alban’s business supports local cottage industry. We had a delightful demonstration of basket weaving by secondary school student whose mother, a widow, supports the family through this business.

Basket Demonstration

Alban is a man for many seasons.

Angelina Biswalo grew up on a small island with little commercial, political or social infrastructure.  She says it was a wonderful childhood to be immersed in nature under a large sky inundated with stars at night and changing colors and facades reflecting season and weather changes during the day. She has no memories of deprivation from living in what most would term extreme poverty.

Angelina with grandson

Her father was a poor, uneducated man who dreamed of education for his children. Angeline’s mother died when she was ten. Shortly after, her father sent her to the main land for government schooling, an impressive decision as she was a girl growing up in a strictly chauvinistic culture. When she graduated from secondary school, she met and married a man who was going to the US to get a PHD. She went with him and pursued her BA in Indiana. Her two sons were born there. When they returned to Tanzania, she birthed a daughter. Angelina’s husband died several years ago. Her sons were able to pursue degrees in The States by virtue of their birthplace. She raised the money for their tuition and successfully fought the barriers placed in front of her daughter’s (and all Tanzanians) acquisition of a US student visa.

Angelina is an educator who is involved in many facets of the community. She is a Rotarian, sits on the Bishop’s Council and on The Global Outreach Board to name a few of her volunteer commitments. Over the years, she has regularly provided domicile to people in need of it, including  those coming from abroad or in country to Iringa to perform community  service and  to children whose family are experiencing crisis.

Last year, Angelina lost a son in a tragic boating accident in Atlanta, GA where he lived. While we know the emotional toll it has had to take on her, to the world she still shows her bright, interested, enthusiastic, involved demeanor. For sure, she has built a family which gives consolation. Her daughter has been working on contract to Johns Hopkins teaching Tanzanian women how to get in touch with their individual strengths to empower their job interviewing skills, and her son is a professor at the University of Dar Salem.

To know Angelina is to think of her as a natural leader.

In 2000 in a national initiative to involve women in government, Monica MBega, working in private industry, was appointed as Minister of Parliament from the Iringa region, a position comparable to a Congressman in the US. She ran for the office in 2005 and was elected by her constituency to continue serving. Simultaneously, she was appointed by the President as Regional Commissioner (re: Governor) of Ruvuma Region and shortly thereafter as Regional Commissioner of Kilamanjaro. Now retired, she continues to use the numerous contacts she has made through her work to promote community growth.

Stan has felt her influence firsthand. She has and continues to introduce him and Global Outreach to a host of high level officials and executives including The Minister of Education, Permanent Secretary of Communications and Technology, the CEOs of many corporations including The President of the National Bank of Tanzania. This week she will take him to meet with the president of TTLC, TZ Internet.

Stan , Minister of Ed, Monica

Stan , Minister of Ed, Monica

Stan, M of ED, and Monica

Monica gives on all levels. A few months ago, she invited us to her Iringa home where she was visiting from her place in Dar Es Salem. There we met nine delightful young people who are in school or looking for employment; They explained allows them to stay rent free  while they are in pursuit of those goals. In Dar Es Salem, Stan has met at her home    a number of orphans she has taken in and cares for.

A number of years ago, when we first moved to Florida, Monica and her husband visited us in our home. While regrettably we did not capture the full range of guests, our few pictures seem to capture her engaging warmth.

Monica gathering at our home2 Monica gathering at our home

May she and the others I describe in this post live long and continue to share their remarkable gifts for developing others!!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A special Thank You from the Iringa community

The Iringa community shows its appreciation to Bibi Constance and Global Outreach

The Iringa community shows its appreciation to Bibi Constance and Global Outreach

It is only natural for donors to wonder how their support is appreciated by those who benefit from their generosity. It is a question that encourages consideration of the special relationship between donor and recipient. “Thank you” is a natural response that fades over the years, and relationships become uncomfortable when there is a perception that the benefit flow is one direction only. I continue to tell people that I receive as much as I give through the joy I receive, but for those who have not experienced this first hand the words ring tinny. From the recipient’s standpoint, if he/she cannot reciprocate, the relationship is equally uncomfortable and even unpleasant. Each must give/receive according to his/her own capacity and capability, in their own way.

I thought of this a few weeks ago when I asked Bishop Tarcisius, of the Iringa Roman Catholic Diocese and head of the Council of Bishops in Tanzania, to say a Mass for my recently departed mother, a devout Catholic. Bishop Tarcisius is one of my closest and strongest partners in bringing educational opportunity to the children of Iringa, so my request was a logical one. But the extent of the response was overwhelming. Bibi (Grandmother) Constance immediately became a person of great attention in the Iringa community, not only for her own personal contributions, but as a symbol of the entire Global Outreach family.

The Bishop first planned a Mass at the student chapel on the grounds of the Kichangani Student Centre. He assigned several of his priests to work with the Global Outreach staff to invite a representative group of students from our schools, our close personal friends in the Iringa community, the senior parish choir to provide music, and members of the religious community.

The Muessles join the commemoration

The Muessles join the commemoration

He then communicated with his major seminary to conduct their own commemoration on the day that we were already planning to visit the school (Mafinga Seminary is one of the best performing secondary schools in the Iringa Region) to review the Global Outreach program there. On that day the entire seminary attended Mass and a follow on dinner was attended by the teachers and officials of the school-seminary.

Mafinga Seminary is our best performing secondary school

Mafinga Seminary is our best performing secondary school

Getting ready for a feast at Mafinga

Getting ready for a feast at Mafinga

All in all, about 500 Tanzanians, of whom exactly one (Miraji Vanginothi) had ever met my mother, attended services for her. True my mother had been most generous to Global Outreach over the years. True the Bishop and I have become fast friends over the years. But this heartfelt outpouring of gratitude and consideration was a true demonstration of the Tanzanian ethos. They were saying “Thank You” in the way that is most meaningful to them.

I hope you view the pictures below and interpret them as “Thank You’s” to all of you who have supported the work of Global Outreach over the years.

Founder Muessle and Bishop Tarcisius - Partners in Education

Founder Muessle and Bishop Tarcisius – Partners in Education

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuances of Tanzanian Society

Of Virtues and Tipping Points

When the Tanzanian embassy was bombed in 1998, editorial opinion was that Al Qaeda targeted it because they knew it would not have much of a defense. That incident and evaluation seem to be a metaphor for Tanzanian Culture.

Because of the communal, friendly, unwarlike   nature of the people, preparing for invasion was not a presenting   concern and therefore, rather easily slipped to a low position on US and local Embassy concerns. The oversight cost them dearly in life and limb.

Many aspects of Tanzanian cultural outlook and practices, positive as they sound, result in the same type of pricey unintended effect.

An agricultural specialist from Minnesota, here to consult with local farmers, will

Randy, Agriculturialist

Randy, Agriculturialist

attest to that. His analysis is that the persistence of old fashioned, non productive, planting techniques might be attributed to the societal ultra respect paid to elders who keep the power of decision making until death.

We suspect that perspective is at the root of lack of computerization at businesses that would clearly profit from their utilization. It triggers memories of the initial resistance to technology in our country in the nineteen sixties and seventies when out of office talk often centered on the superiority of the hand written ledger. I shop frequently at the nearest facsimile to a supermarket we have here and have an increasing temptation to confront the woman who complacently enters by pen documentation of sales.  “Do you not understand how you could increase your profit by tracking your inventory, sales, so that you can base your ordering on expedient, timely, insightful analysis?”, I want to implore, but I resist knowing the likely answer. “That is not the way it is done here.”

Contributing to the mind-set of stick with the old is the teacher dominated classroom which we older people in the US like to so fondly remember as we watch the younger generations progress through school. Witnessing the process here tends to lead to a different view. When students who are communal by nature are strongly encouraged in their developmental years to listen, not challenge, the result is emerging, for the most part, unassertive graduates, who are not critically thinking, who are uncomfortable with conflict with family and authority figures, who, rather than youthfully aspire to leadership, seem to be serenely complacent in wait mode for the next assignment to be presented to them by those in charge.

Maybe differing heritages combined in our country to spur change and produce stories like the dramatic clash of Tom Watson Sr, founder and Chairman of the Board of IBM and his son, Tom Jr, President. Rising up against his father’s judgment that it would be better to remain in the non technical office products business, Jr used the power of his office to risk all assets of the company, built by his father, for entrance into the newly emerging computer industry. A scenario and outcome like this one would be nothing short of shocking here due mainly to the extreme emotional stress which the young contender, by nature and nurture, would experience in taking on the parent.

The case can be  made that this population enjoys its set of values , based on human connection, and subconsciously has built a system which resists  the pursuit of material goods to protect itself from the all too often, and well known,  resulting evils.

The Western World’s observance of how this type of in Country thinking can limit the development of human potential and years of life span seems to spur   NGOs (Non Government Organizations, i.e.  Non Profits), Churches, and others to flock here, not for purposes of changing cultural outlook, but for honing it in order to create a positive effect on those issues.

Tanzania is most apparently plagued with disease and other preventable causes of death.

Aids, malaria, typhoid, dengue fever are rampant and often fatal. Malnutrition in children under five is also a leading cause of death.

In the case of the Aids epidemic there may be some underlying causes in societal practices. This is a country in which polygamy was practiced and promoted by a harsh, demanding, rural environment requiring a man to have more than one wife to establish household until 1961 when Independence was declared and Julius Nyerere, first President and highly revered Father of his Country, led a movement bringing families out from the Interior to form communities with supportive infra- structure. With this development and the spread of Christianity, many converted and accepted monogamy as Church law. Sometimes, however, unlicensed practice lags behind official policy and is somewhat understandable in a place where sons still have fathers modeling the old way, keeping multiple wives contracted in the previous period. Muslim men did not relinquish their freedom to marry multiple spouses and in their community the practice is still prevalent. Resulting anxiety amongst women is hardly surprising.   My empathy went out to a young lady who recently told me that when she broke out in a rash and fever, she remembered seeing her husband walking with one of the village women. While she had no real reason to suspect him, she queried him and hurried to the doctor. Who could term this reaction hyper-vigilant when so much is at stake?

In the rural areas, I am told by a number of locals, many believe Aids is the not a diagnosis but a curse by God on some family member of the victim resulting from an ill performed deed. Many with this outlook refuse diagnosis and treatment.

Our  friend and my ESL student, Dr Corrado, tells me that there is a tendency , in both urban and rural areas, to  turn to friends and relatives for advice on pregnancy  instead of seeking pre-natal care. The result is often having babies with Aids. He also tells us about the high fatality rate of children under five dying from

Dr. Corrado

Dr. Corrado

malnutrition and not from the conclusion of poverty to which many of us would likely jump. Rather, he and others, describe a frequent scenario of mothers unwittingly switching their toddlers from breast milk to the national dish, Ugali, which has no nutritional value but is easy to feed to resistant young eaters. Children in this circumstance arrive at the hospital, extremely listless, with extended stomachs, and no appetite.

He describes another disconcerting circumstance which he witnesses and is related to poverty: adult patients not receiving testing for malaria and other conditions because they cannot afford the cost which is often @ $1.20 US. Of course, he pays when he is there but worries about when he is not.

Dr Corrado is in Italy presently working with UNICEF to develop a program he will lead  to identify families with children with malnutrition and educate them on good eating practice. Randy, the agricultural specialist, will continue to work with educators here to convince farmers to make the necessary changes to increase healthy crop abundance allowing them to stay current with the World Market and decrease poverty, giving workers more income and an ability to pay for health care needs.

We at Global Outreach are providing education and computer equipment so that people, amongst other functions, can access through the Internet the world wide base of information in all fields but, maybe most importantly, the developments and standard practices in the area of healthcare. Knowledge, we believe, is power.

There are a myriad of  other NGO’s, Churches  and individuals ,like the ones I described in the “Interesting People”, here committed to the same goal of directly or indirectly saving lives.

I will close with another metaphor which seems to capture the essence of a Tanzanian dilemma, wide attendance at the numerous funerals. On a weekly basis employees are absent from work, meetings with Ministers and other businessmen and authorities cancelled, business closed, due to people leaving in that pursuit. One does not have to study demographics to see the negative impact on productivity.  If the number of deaths were diminished, funeral attendance thereby less, the resulting profit could be invested in health care and education with a very desirable consequence.

It is the construction of that cycle which is the object of the substantial, visible human investment of foreign resources present here, and somewhat ironically, I can’t help but conclude that the motivation to help is inspired by the warm, people oriented, values of a culture who will put all other concerns aside to attend the death of a community member to honor his/her memory and support the family.

A Short History of Tanzania and other Demographics:

In the late 19th Century, Imperial Germany occupied territories In Africa to create German East Africa. After the First World War, German East Africa was turned over to Great Britain as a Mandate to administrate the Country under internationally agreed rules and regulations of The League of Nations and subsequently The United Nations. The Country was renamed Tanganyika.

Lack of attention to human rights and provision of education by both Germany and GB spurred the growth in 1929 of a nationalistic organization, The African Association, formed by a group of Africans who were leaders and who had managed to obtain formal education. Their goal was Independence. In 1948, Julius Neyerere entered the fray and led the group to achieving their goal in 1961.In 1964 the neighboring country of Zanzibar and Tanganyika united becoming Tanzania.

Tanzania is made up of more than two hundred and sixty tribes, Hehe and Masai being two of the largest ones in our area of Iringa. The Hehe are remembered for the fine military they developed enabling them to resist German occupation for seven years. The Masaii are a pastoral people can be readily seen wearing their native garb, carrying spears and tending flocks.

Each has their own language, but all ascribe to Swahili as a national language. It seems in sync with their proclivity for community, that unlike neighboring Kenya, they chose it over English seemingly preferring national identity over commercial pragmatism. English is taught in the schools and is the language of secondary education so the government does promote its use knowing its value for World Market transactions.

There is no reported strife among the tribes. When asked about origin, people here respond with Tanzanian, with no mention of tribal roots. The exception may be that the people from Zanibar who are likely to define themselves as from that region; it may be that the Island is 99% Muslim population predisposes that identification distinguishing it from the mainland’s majority of Christians.

A friend asked recently if the Germans or English left a footprint on the culture, economic system or nature of the people. The answer is not apparently. The explanation may be that any extent that either group, while in authority, exerted to include the people in country administration was overall very limited.

Natural Resources include agriculture, wild life, and many minerals including gold, diamonds, tanzanite and others.

Population at latest count is set at about 49 million.

Tanzanians are communal and happy, love babies,  parties and play well with others.

Maria's going away party (1)

Maria's going away party (16) Maria's going away party (14)

and in interaction with visitors (here with teachers from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School)

IMG_2090

Maria's going away party (5)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Image Secondary School

We have always tried to set realistic expectations for our supporters. Our mantra has been “Introducing computer literacy training into Tanzanian secondary schools is easy: keeping it there is the challenge.”

Schools that enter the Global Outreach program are strongly motivated at the time. They have a Head of School who has the vision to see its value for their students, and the commitment to confront the myriad of challenges that such a program entails. They have completed the extensive application process to join the program, and accepted their responsibilities in the program. They and their staffs get actively involved in the installation tasks.But after a while the reality of life takes over. These Heads of School are typically the ones performing well overall and getting noticed, so they are promoted to jobs of responsibility as district or regional education executives. The replacement Head often has no interest and/or motivation, as these programs are not part of the government mandate and hence not part of formal measurements. Without a Head of School involved, the program will founder if not fail.

 The school’s trained teachers and lab technicians often use their new skills to find more lucrative positions in city schools where living conditions are better. Since Computer Literacy is not a standard subject, the schools cannot request this competency from the government appointment system, but must rely on luck of the draw that a new teacher may have some computer literacy training in his/her background, or else a whole new set of teacher/technician training programs must be undertaken before the program is back on course.

The difficult environment of Tanzania schools demands constant attention to computer maintenance, and remote schools stress the support structure. Desires to access the digital libraries are frustrated because they cannot successfully solicit funds from students to provide transport to educational programs that the parents do not understand how to prioritize in their day-to-day existence. So opportunities remain unfulfilled.

It is in these challenges that the real work of Global Outreach lies. We are like the medical profession I think. We must provide preventative services at the functioning schools so we are ready for possible setbacks. We must be alert to the changes in the school’s condition, so we can guide them through transition periods. We must be in the triage program when schools crash and need life-support to get back on track. We must even be ready for the reality that some of our schools will ‘die,’ and when that indeed did happen, we had to perform last rites and bury the patient. Most important, we must always understand that if this was easy, it would have been done long ago. We can’t throw our hands in the air and give up when we encounter failure: we WILL encounter failure along the way.

With all that said, this week I visited one of the schools in our program I would like to tell you about. They were our third school, and in many ways faced the most serious challenges. Image (I-mah’-gay) Secondary School was opened in 2004. I visited with the Head of School, (Lutheran) Pastor Andendekisye Ngogo, when the school had two unfinished buildings, and he had already chosen the room for the computer laboratory. There was (still is) no grid electricity, so solar power was a requirement. The school was in the middle of nowhere so access was difficult, and the environment was challenging.

The ‘main entrance’ to Image Secondary School (2004)

The ‘main entrance’ to Image Secondary School (2004)

The Image ‘campus’ in 2004

The Image ‘campus’ in 2004

Pastor Ngogo knew what he wanted from Day 1

Pastor Ngogo knew what he wanted from Day 1

“Uncle Bill” Lloyd installs first Image computers in 2005

“Uncle Bill” Lloyd installs first Image computers in 2005

But it turned out that Image had three things going for it. One was that their Head of School not only was a dedicated, hard working man committed to the welfare of his community, but he had great vision in what he wanted to build at the school and the courage to stay the course. Secondly was he understood the importance of getting support for his vision and always visibly showed his great appreciation for that assistance: hence the donor community was responsive to his requests. And finally, he has continued at his post for the ten-year life of his school, and kept the vision carefully alive and evolving.

As a result, Image had been able to make computer literacy a reality for its students in the face of formidable odds. Today the lab is managed by an able technician who has utilized the Global Outreach training program to fine tune his operational skills. The lab required a second solar installation necessitated by the vagaries of lightning strikes, but completely financed by generous donors (under the leadership of Bega Kwa Bega friend Lamont Koerner) impressed with their programs. Last year we installed new special energy efficient computers (developed by Genesi in US) that mandated new software training but yielded huge reductions in solar power consumption, allowing extended lab availability for the community.

The Image computer laboratory – 2014.

The Image computer laboratory – 2014.

New energy efficient computers provide expanded use.

New energy efficient computers provide expanded use.

The school has two computer teachers, who are employing modern techniques taught in our internet library, such as projector usage for classroom direction. Computer Literacy is an established subject in the time table, with two full classes per student per week. Students sit for the VETA (the Tanzanian vocational education institute) examinations in computer literacy and those who pass (all to date!) are awarded their certificates during the school’s graduation ceremony.

VETA uses the ISSIL to administer their practical exam.

VETA uses the ISSIL to administer their practical exam.

     And certificates are handed out during graduation ceremonies.

And certificates are handed out during graduation ceremonies.

Computer literacy has been extended across the entire community. The goal is to have every teacher trained to use the computer, and today over ¾ are capable. Many are using technology in the classroom, and the majority prepare lesson plans and materials, as well as examinations on the computer. Numerous teachers use the internet library to gather materials when they come to Iringa for personal matters.

A subset of the learning library which is available for all Iringa children in our Windows to Knowledge digital library, has been installed by one of our Bega Kwa Bega partners, Dan McIntyre, so that students may do self study on-site. The school has also made periodic field trips to our internet library, and hopes to soon offer one or two computers for local internet access for students through cell phone offerings via modem.

Volunteers (like Dan McIntyre) are key to our success.

Volunteers (like Dan McIntyre) are key to our success.

field trip to the ISSIL is an exciting day for these Image students.

field trip to the ISSIL is an exciting day for these Image students.

A trip to Image is an experience to embrace. It is a testament to a true Tanzanian leader, and a vivid demonstration of the kind of results that Global Outreach aspires for in our commitment to Tanzanian education. We hope that when you question whether the support you are giving to Global Outreach is really making a difference in the world, you will come to this page and drink in the hope and joy.

Image teachers show their joy in their faces,

Image teachers show their joy in their faces,

and in interaction with visitors (here with teachers from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School)

and in interaction with visitors (here with teachers from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community Outreach

(I know it looks like it is only Betty who is doing something in Africa, so Stan better put a post into the blog to justify not only his existence but the ongoing support of Global Outreach donors. The quality of the prose will undoubtedly suffer, but that’s the price of competing with the President of the James Joyce Society of Sarasota.)

The centerpiece of the activity I am engaging in during the stay in Tanzania this year is helping the local staff become self sustaining. Much of this will be in teaching them how to raise funds in country and around the world. But we will also be pursuing options of providing the support our schools need to develop and maintain their computer literacy programs and pursue the use of technology to improve the quality of secondary school education.

One way we hope to address the latter is through volunteerism, something not prevalent in a society where most people are struggling to make it through each day. But we are embarking on a program that simultaneously attacks another serious problem in Tanzania today, the real world performance of university graduates. While the country faces many of the same issues that US students face today in the shortage of available jobs, much of the problem in Tanzania is exacerbated by the lack of practical skills that graduates bring to the marketplace. The education system – from a lack of books and facilities to a teaching paradigm devoid of student interaction to a national examination structure based on memorization versus thinking – presents theoretical training from primary school through university. As a result, university graduates present employers the challenge of extended start up periods before they can function with a reasonable level of competency.

One of my first major activities has therefore been to form a program, which we call Community Outreach, with two of the Iringa based universities (University of Iringa and Ruaha University College.) It is designed to assist students combat this deficiency. Utilizing Service Learning and Internship concepts from US institutions, we are creating programs for students to work with Global Outreach on carefully selected projects that will allow them to develop experience and skills relevant to the workplace. This program differs from previous in-country internships in that students will have meaningful work, Global Outreach will provide attention and supervisions, and the university will provide guidance and assistance from instructors.

We have selected nine students from the universities to join the Community Outreach program. Students from the schools of ICT, Business, and Education will be involved in the pilot program. This is a WIN-WIN-WIN opportunity. The two school presidents are optimistic that we can help them address a recognized weakness across the Tanzanian education landscape. The students are excited about acquiring practical knowledge and putting some meat on their resumes to make them more competitive in the marketplace. And Global Outreach is not only delighted in expanding our vision of improving Tanzanian education, but hopes to realize useful work products from Community Outreach.

P1060583

ICT students Happyness Sylvester (RUCO) and Francis Martin (UofI – not pictured) help Charles Kifwe (GO) with computer maintenance.

 P1060558

Francis Mwachombe (GO) and Education interns Deogratias Masepo (UofI) and Godias Majambo (RUCO) in background are studying teaching techniques at member schools. Volunteer Betty Muessle is here seen assisting computer literacy classes at Iringa Girls Secondary School.

 ICT students Mbelwa Mchayungu (UofI) and Isaya Msemwa (RUCO) work with Grayson Msigala (GO) on automated office systems for Global Outreach and member schools.

ICT students Mbelwa Mchayungu (UofI) and Isaya Msemwa (RUCO) work with Grayson Msigala (GO) on automated office systems for Global Outreach and member schools.

P1060592Stan Muessle discusses better ways to market our facilities with business students Frank Clement (UofI), Maryline Mamuya (UofI), and Mtola Mbizo (RUCO.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment