Dr. Greg's Blog




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OUR KIDS - 16 February 2018


Children will always be children! That reality was very much on our minds this past year as Shannon had to perform ''shuttle diplomacy'' going back and forth to Africa while I struggled to regain my health and some consistent level of functioning. To her unending credit, she never blinked, complained or gave even a hint that the exhausting long distance travel and hard work on the ground in Tanzania were things that were in any ways a burden for her. She spent endless hours visiting families and schools and attending Africa's equivalence of PTA meetings at multiple sites where we have children enrolled.


Shannon's job this year was made harder as we have continue our exploration of transferring children to Kenyan schools. There are many reasons this is a good idea including the facts that the education is better and cheaper. But it means that trips have to be arranged and then endured in cramped buses that ply the road over the shoulder of Mt Kilimanjaro into southern Kenya on the way from Moshi to Loitokitok. And then you have to endure the repeated border crossing which can be frustrating at times. Fortunately as time goes on and the border guards are getting to know us better, some of that stress has been relieved.

But now as the school year winds down and we get to assess how well things are going - all of Shannon's hard work appears to have paid great dividends. Many of our children have responded to the challenge of new schools by ''discovering'' that they really could succeed. In Africa one half of the battle seems to be the installation of the confidence in a student to realize that things like those apparently complex algebraic formulas are only a form of language that can be deciphered by most if they work at it and believe in their own abilities. Some of our kids who had been failing at other schools suddenly showed remarkable aptitudes at things like Math and Science when placed in a better environment.


Our children are presently spread among many schools I am fascinated by the fact that Shannon actually has all of this information in her head. It is all I can do to remember the names of the schools! Here is an overview: At St Joachim are Abu, Edward and Victor. At Moshi Academy are Benson, Hadija, Bisuni, Fatuma, Rama Haji, Jenipher 3 and Zainabu. At a private school in Arusha are Denis and Maureen. At St. Ann's are Delphina, Brightness, Sostenes, Mwana, Deo, Goodluck, Grace, Ino, Izaak, Jenipher 4, Julius, Nicolas, Rama Jumanne and Vicent. At Mother Theresa in Sami are Glorianna, Glory and Winnie. At St Theresa's in Mwanga are Jeniphers 1 and 2. At Majengo Secondary are Shedrack, Reggie, Novati, Husein and Hamisi. Upendo is at Faraja Academy. At Condota are Husna and Zainabu Kubwa. Kids already in or planning to attend Kenya schools include Ever, Gift, Happy, Esther, Mwantum, Richard and Viola. Ema and Rebecca are between schools and waiting for placements. Frank and Juma are attending different carpentry schools.


The list above is not comprehensive. We also support another young lady named Husna at Moshi Technical, two students from the Mabogini Orphanage: Theresia presently in mid term classes and Elizabeth at Moshi Academy, Mwanaidi and Ezelida in post graduate law programs, Prosper in a Business Master's program, Christopher in a Gynecology Residency, little Hasani at Moshi Academy and Mwasu in a public school. Some of our older kids have entered the work-a-day world: Marcel whom we assisted in obtaining his Master's Degree several years ago is presently running a successful recycling business in Morogoro. Agness has been working for Standing Tall, a non profit charity, and she recently spent several months attending a young lady in Texas who had spinal surgery.


Many of our children did extremely well this year. Our two super stars were in Condota. Husna and Zainabu scored Division One in their national exams at the end of Form Four. This places them in the top one percent of all of the students who took that exam. Esther finished at Moshi Academy and she was the top scoring girl there. We had top 5 placement awards in various classes by Maureen, Grace, Julius, Deo and Jenipher 3. Husein was elected Vice President of his high school class and also made the school soccer team.


Next year will create its own set of challenges. Some of the schools that we have been using have had administrative turn over and the loss of some of their better teachers. This means that we may well move children from those schools to new ones and that will be the work that Shannon engages when she goes back to Africa next month. I remain hopeful that I will stay healthy enough to visit in January. It has been nearly a year and a half since I have had a chance to see these kids and I have missed them much. We are just beginning the work of contacting the various sponsors for many of these children who have helped us keep them all moving forward. December is our big month for this since we pay their fees for at least one half of the coming school year. Shannon and I are both very happy to be working again as well since we traditionally pay any shortfall involved in the school expenses. My health has improved so much that I am really enjoying the work we do in Alaska at the clinic in Haines.


Best wishes to everyone for the holidays!