Monday, December 23, 2013

Wrapping up 2013 - Rudisha Foundation updates!

I had intended to write this blog a lot sooner however time slipped away from me this fall during our visit home with family and friends. I am excited to share some new projects we are working on for our child sponsorship program, the Rudisha Foundation. 

When I had met with the head master at the Langoni Primary School early this year he had asked me if I had access to a computer that could be donated to the school. He expressed that the school was looking to incorporate computer classes to the curriculum. I let him know I would try my best to help their school. After my visit at Langoni Primary school I was inspired to update my Facebook status, to put the word out that I was looking for any old computers that could be very useful in a small school in Moshi, Tanzania. Before the end of the day I had a friend send a message of great news, she believed she may have access to a computer that she could donate, I was so happy! Many thanks to Megan Matheson Hamilton for making this new project possible.

Donation from Dance Nova Scotia. In photo: Drew Moore, President and Megan Matheson Hamilton, Executive Director.

Technical services donated by John Benson, Eaglez Consulting.

A few days later I received a message from my cousin who said that his work was getting rid of some old laptops, he was wondering if we could use them. Of course my answer was yes! He had a total of 14 laptops for the Rudisha Foundation. We would like to thank my cousin Jim and the “G” Division RCMP in Northwest Territories for their kind generosity.

My intention for this project is to create a computer lab in each school that our sponsorship children attend. Pole pole we will start with one school and then move on to the next.

When Moses and I were visiting Martha in Moshi a few weeks ago we had lovely visits from some of our sponsorship children. We met Athumani Juma for the first time. He is one of the two new children we have added to the sponsorship program this winter. Athumani is full of spunk and is a smart character, he enjoyed drawing on my iPad and caught on very quickly, he loves playing hill climb racing! Below is Athumani, his sister Abida and their auntie Asha. We would like to thank the Elmwood St. Johns Luthern Parish for sponsoring Athumani for 2014.

                                          Martha and Abida

Elizabeth stopped over to show us her work books and her kindergarten final exam. She has passed and will be moving on to her second year at Moshi Catholic Day Care Centre. Congratulations Elizabeth!

Elizabeth is always up for new photos in Martha's beautiful garden.

Nancy and Joel also stopped over for a short visit, to let us know that they are waiting on the marks from their final exams and that they will have the results in a few weeks. We took this opportunity to share with them letters that were written by students in Cambridge, Nova Scotia. I should back track a bit and explain how these letters came to be.....

During my visit to Nova Scotia in November I was asked to speak to the children at my sisters school, Cambridge Elementary. As part of their "Me to We Initiative" they invited me to their school for a morning so I could share stories of my experiences living in East Africa and connect the students with new friends in Moshi, Tanzania. The "Me to We Initiative" is a program that was started by Craig and Marc Kielburger from Thornill, Ontario. It's a wonderful program that helps children all over the world.

It was such a pleasure to teach the children what we have been doing with Rudisha Foundation - giving children their age an opportunity to attend school.

The children at Cambridge Elementary School were excited to learn that they would be able to write to our sponsorship program children and have their letters hand delivered. They were even more excited when I let them know that I would have our sponsorship children respond to their letters.

56 children from Cambridge Elementary gave up their lunch hour to write letters to Joel and Nancy, Ally, Hasani and Rashidi, Julianna, Lucas, Noel and Elizabeth. While Moses took photos, Martha and I sat with Nancy and Joel as they read some of their letters.

In January I will be going to Moshi to meet with all of the children. Martha and I will have a graduation party for them, to celebrate their hard work for the 2013 school year. They will bring their report cards and we will find out if they have passed. I am very confident that they ALL have done very well! We will hand out the rest of the letters to the children, some of the younger ones will need help with responding to their new friends in Nova Scotia.

During my visit to Moshi I will also be taking one of the laptops to Langoni Primary school where I will volunteer my time, teaching their teachers how to use the computers and how to conduct a computer class. I'm looking forward to my visit in he new year.

Keep following along for more updates and news from Rudisha Foundation. We are so excited for the year ahead. To help these children is a blessing which I am most thankful for each and every day.

We could not finish with out saying THANK YOU to family and friends near and far, who gave donations to help us start this program and for those who donated in 2013 for the 2014 school year. It means so much to us that you choose to help us make a difference in the world.

Should you wish to sponsor a child so their education may continue until they finish high school you can donate to Rudisha Foundation or contact me via email to learn more about the child’s situation and needs.

Merry Christmas from the Serengeti - Amanda and Moses

Monday, September 30, 2013

Great News for Rudisha Sponsorship Program

There have been a lot of exciting things happening in the last several months that I've been waiting to share with my followers. I am very happy to give special thanks to two groups who have taken it upon themselves to volunteer their time and raise money to sponsor children in Moshi, Tanzania for the Rudisha Sponsorship Program. 

In February of this year, a group of ladies from the Horton Interact Club (Youth Rotary Club of New Minas) spread their love on Valentines Day and raised $200 dollars selling flowers in their annual fund raiser. 

The Rotary Club of New Minas Sunshine also matched the Interact Clubs donation, making this the largest donation to date for the sponsorship program. I can not say thank you enough to both groups, asante sana (thank you very much) for your warm hearts.  The funds raised will cover the costs for schools books, uniforms and school tuition for both Julianna and Lucas Costatin for 2014. Julianna and Lucas are most grateful for the sponsorship and send along a very BIG thanks to both clubs.

Across the Atlantic, in a small town on the south coast of Newfoundland, another group deserves a very special thanks.  The Harbour Breaton Storytime group which was directed by Corina Ivany also had love in their hearts this spring. The Storytime group raised $200 dollars to sponsor one of our youngest sponsor children, Noel Leonard Lema. 

The donation will cover the cost for uniform and tuition at Stella Maris Primary School in Tanzania. You can read about their story in the Harbour Breton Coaster online.

A very BIG thank you to all of the children for their lovely artwork and gifts which will be given to Noel in November. 

We are most thankful to the Harbour Breton Storytime groups, Corina Ivany and the community of Harbour Breton for the donations. 

This leaves us still praying for donations and sponsorship for 2014 school fees for five children; Nancy and Joel Mmary and Ally, Hasani and Rashidi.  You can donate online, any amount helps.

Visit our sponsorship page for photos of each child or see even more photos on our YouTube Chanel.

Keep following along for more exciting news which I will reveal later this week!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hapa, Pale na Kila Mahali (Here, There and Everywhere)

It's been a while since my last blog as we've been busy, to say the least! Of course we're always on an adventure with moving back and forth from Tarangire National Park and the Serengeti National Park. I also made two trips to Canada in the last month! On the way back to Tanzania I flew with Turkish Airways for the first time.  They offered great service, have nice air crafts and the flight times were better than when I spent 13.5 hours on one aircraft from Toronto to Addis Ababa.

We now find ourselves in Kenya in the Maasai Mara for a few more days, then it's back to the Mighty Serengeti.  The Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra made it's way to the Maasai Mara a bit early compared to last year. While we haven't seen the masses and masses of wildebeest in our direct flight path, there have been quite a few and we can see the larger herds off in a distance. The predators are certainly on the look out for their next meal. In the last two days I've been lucky to see nine cheetahs; three from the balloon, four lazying by a water hole and the other two we followed as they were on the hunt.  It was an amazing site to see a cheetah jump on top of the safari vehicle, even though I didn't have access to my camera at that time it's something that is etched in my mind for good.  I've seen photos of this but to see it in action was quite amazing.  I hope you enjoy a few photos from the beautiful Maasai Mara.

A BIG thanks to those who follow my blog and share my African adventures and photos. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Seaweed Farming in Jambiani Beach - Zanzibar, TZ

During my trip to the island of Zanzibar I spent three nights in Jambiani, which is located on the south east coast of the island. I choose this area as you get to enjoy the culture of the local life. The beaches in Jambiani are natural and not cleaned daily of seaweed. I stayed at the Red Monkey Lodge while in Jambiani.  The quaint resort offers a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful Indian Ocean.

Coral reefs line the coast of Zanzibar and surrounding islands.  The fine white sand and warm turquoise waters will do wonders for your feet as you walk along the beautiful sandbar at low tide. When I arrived at the Red Monkey Lodge the tide was in, waves crashing on the beach. From my research and reading TripAdvisor reviews I knew that the tide would go out quite far and that the locals make a living from farming the seaweed along the coast of Jambiani. I went to bed the first night in my beautiful room, footsteps from the beach, very excited to wake up and learn how and why the locals did their farming of seaweed.  I woke in the morning, enjoyed my breakfast with a view.  The tide had gone out and the sand bar could be seen for miles. I could see women of all ages walking out to their farms, off I went with my camera - you must admit it looks quite inviting!

There were many different families along the shoreline working very hard to take advantage of the low tide. The farms can only be tended to at low tide so each day they make the best of their time.  Sticks of wood are driven into the sand and then twine or rope is tied from one end to the other. When the tide comes back in all evidence of the farms disappear and the seaweed is collected as it moves about the ocean. 

I walked along greeting the locals in Kiswahili, asking how their day was and blessing them for their days work. A young woman, probably the age of 16 or 17 asked me for some help as I walked by. She needed assistance in getting the heavy bag, full of seaweed on top of her head.

I kept walking though the warm shallow waters and came across the supplies that are needed for the farming, it was like the supplies were laid out just for my picture.  The supplies consisted of small pieces of seaweed, the bags for the harvested seaweed and the small bits of string.

I kept walking along the shoreline for a while and then decided to sit on the sand and enjoy the view.  A local teenage boy came along, he was out helping his mother and wanted to see where this "mzungu" (Kiswahili for tourist or white man) was visiting from. We chatted for a bit in Kiswahili and then I asked him to explain to me in English the process of the farming. He explained that the small pieces of seaweed are tied to the small pieces of string and then tied to the long strings in the water.  As the tide rises and falls day after day the seaweed grows in large bundles which then get sorted and picked when the time is right.  I asked what the seaweed is used for and his response was for making many things. He continued to explain that the seaweed is exported from Jambiani and used to make candles, soap and also used for medicine.  

The sun was shining bright and I knew it as time to have a little break as I had forgot to put on sunscreen, it was time to head into the shade. I enjoyed the walk back, snapping a few more photos of the wooden boats which now sat on the ocean floor and the interesting marine life, such as the beautiful spider fish.

Sitting in the shade I watched as the tide slowly started to come back in and the locals pole pole started to make their way back to the shore.  Some of the younger children were excited that their mamas were soon finished work, they gathered on the beach with their family and friends waiting for mama to return. The higher the tide became the harder it appeared for the women to haul in their loads, some ladies were pulling up to 15 full bags of seaweed. I took note that the farming was done mainly by the women.

Once they reached the shore the women re-counted their bags of seaweed, to make sure no bags where left behind. They then carried the bags to the rock wall behind the beach, where they would then get carried home and the drying process could begin. When I went for a walk later that evening I saw many bags of seaweed sprawled in the front and back yards. 

Swimming in Jambiani is great once the tide becomes high, the seaweed is once again covered and all presence of hard work has disappeared for another day. During the low-tide walking around the beautiful sandbanks and wadding in the warm pools is a wonderful way to spend your morning. 

For more beautiful photos of Zanzibar be sure to watch my Virtual Tour of Zanzibar.  You can also learn more about Zanzibar and the Slave Trade which once took place on the island.