Sr. Dativa Mukebita, FSSB, Executive Director and co-founder of The Village Angels of Tanzania, will be visiting the United States in June. While in Morristown, on June 25 - 7:30 to 9:00 PM, Sr. Dativa will speak briefly about The Village Angels of Tanzania program. Sergio and Johanna Burani, who have just returned from Tanzania, will present the latest photos from their trip. There will be ample time to mingle with Sr. Dativa, Johanna and Sergio. Coffee/Tea and baked goods will be served. Whether you are a long time supporter, or just want to know more about the program, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet the people involved and learn about what we do. All New Jersey residents are invited to attend. The event will take place in Rauscher Hall of Assumption Church, 91 Maple Avenue, Morristown, NJ.
Note from Johanna and Sergio: when this blog post is published, we will be in the middle of our 36-hour door-to-door trip home. Our stay in Tanzania is over, but our stories are not. Please, come back to our blog for more of them. They won’t be “live,” but they will continue to be great!
Mr. Ramadan Mugenyi drills wells and receives high professional marks from those who use them. He has recently supplied two schools and the Bishop’s house in areas surrounding Benaco. Our water supply situation is tragic. Water is currently hauled in barrels from a public source 10 kilometers away from our Center. Depending on our activity, two to five trips are made every week. Now that we have 40 chickens (and we want to bring in more) and now that the youths have prepared the ground for cultivating crops for the elders, the lack of our own water source on the premises is holding us back.
After much discussion within the Board and extensive consultation with “Mr. Rama,” we have given him the green light to start drilling in August. We are confident he will do a top-quality job and will address any unforeseen problem. As he says, “No problem. 100%!”.
After three hours of measuring and evaluating best practices and costs, Mr. Rama’s parting words were “Tupo pamoja,” which means “We are together” in Swahili. We really believe he is our angel-on-loan.
On Friday we have had the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Jean Falvey to our farm. Jean is the first of our donors to visit us in person. She comes from Walpole, MA and was accompanied by her niece Lynne Wilson and by Fr. Leopold Mushabozi, former pastor in Benaco.
With great pride, we showed Jean and her friends around: the farm, Rauscher Hall, our sewing machines, the chicken coop, the beehive house, the new fence and, last but not least, the area where very soon we will drill water to irrigate our farm.
What a treat! Our first donor visit! We are confident that it will not be the last.
Earlier this year, The Village Angels of Tanzania hired Sr. Maria Magdalena Alphonse, affectionately called Sr. Bibi (Sr. Grandma) by all. Sister is a well-seasoned FSSB seamstress and she was given the task of teaching our youths how to sew. All of our 16 youths learned on our six sewing machines. They have been practicing and soon will be given their final test. Based on yesterday’s “wine-bottle-bag” experiment they are ready and sure to do fine. Going forward the youths will sew pants for our elderly men and will prepare shirts, blouses and skirts for sale at local markets. Signs of good return on investment from our training are starting to pop up! Two of the youth are shown below working on their sewing skills
Green bananas are part of the staple diet throughout Tanzania. They are widely grown in our villages and many of our Village Angels consume two or three every day. A virus has attacked the green banana plant all over Africa and they are dying. Agronomists and other experts are studying the problem and actively seeking a solution, but none has yet been found. The disappearance of this staple food from our elders’ diet will necessitate buying more food for them from local merchants. We are hoping a resolution will be found soon for this problem
Samia Said, a 73-year old widow, was evicted from her neighbor’s house last year. Without reason her neighbor announced that she would have to find a place of her own.
One of our donors came to her assistance and within three months our youths built Sania’s new home. When she saw us on Tuesday she thanked us profusely and invited us to see her home.
How wonderful it was for us to see the joy of this simple woman Samia.
She says over and over again “Asante sana” (thank you).
Last year when we met with Nikodem Lucian, a little boy accompanied him because he was unable to see. A soft-spoken man with a gentle smile, Nikodem suffers in silence from his handicap. Thanks to a grant from the Endowment Fund for the Poor of Assumption Church in Morristown, New Jersey, The Village Angels of Tanzania provided eyecare visits with an ophthalmologist to all the elders and youth in the program last April. It was then that Nikodem learned that he does indeed have eyesight capacity. Extremely advanced cataracts have been clouding his vision. When we visited him on Tuesday, Nikodem asked “how many more days must I wait before I can see again?” Cataract surgery for him is scheduled for July or August.
After this operation, he will finally be able to see the smart jacket that we donated to him.
Odetha John is a Village Angel. We visited her on Monday and, among other parameters, we measured her blood pressure. it was well above the healthy range. We spoke to her about using less salt in her cooking. We also suggested that she eat breakfast every morning to break the very long stressful overnight fast. She explained she had no time to cook in the morning (porridge is the typical breakfast food). She starts farming for a neighbor at 6 AM to earn money for food. She is 95 years old. This is why The Village Angels of Tanzania need to exist!
Johanna and Sergio are in Africa, visiting Sister Dativa and The Village Angels of Tanzania. Internet connection permitting, they will send frequent updates on their whereabouts and adventures. This is the first. They are speaking directly to you, our blog followers. Come back frequently to hear more.
There are no accidents in life. In July 2017 we flew into Kigali Airport in Rwanda, the closest airport to Benaco Tanzania, where the Village Angels are located. A driver picked us up from the airport and brought to a hotel, where we stayed for two nights. Our driver’s name was Sadicky Rutayisire.
It was only a short ride into the hotel, but in those 20 minutes a loving relationship developed. We hired Sadicky to drive us around Kigali the next day. In the course of our time together, we learned of his sad family history: the loss of his father during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, his forced separation from his pregnant mother and older brother, and his mother’s escape across the border into Tanzania - to a UN camp in Benaco. The Rwandan refugee crisis has significantly contributed to the need for our Village Angels of Tanzania program.
For many years, life was difficult for all members of Sadicky’s family. Preferring to focus on the present and work at building a good life for the future, they are reluctant to speak about their past.
Now we are back in Kigali - on our way to Benaco - and are reunited with Sadicky again. This time, we met Sadicky’s wife, Ornella, and his 7-month old son, Hirwa Dylan. We also met Sadicky’s mother, Kanyana. What a joy for us to meet her! The connection of Benaco between us is unmistakable. We have made plans to bring Kanyana to Benaco during our next visit to The Village Angels of Tanzania. Kanyana would like to say “thank you” to the FSSB Sisters and inhabitants of Benaco. There are no accidents in life.
Two of our youths recently left our program, both to pursue career advancements.
- Elisheba (green) will be a full time seamstress, made possible because her brother bought her a sewing machine. As part of our program, we have given extensive sewing lessons to Elisheba and every other youth in the program.
- Jovina (blue) will pursue computer courses, as part of her plan to gain computer proficiency.
A festive party was held at Rauscher Hall to bid Elisheba and Jovina farewell.
As part of our mission, we teach our youths skills that they can leverage to gain employment outside of the program.