Although Jennilee and I are over here partaking in all the action, we wouldn't have been able to accomplish such great things without your help. We need to give a big thank you to those who have taken the time to follow our progress and contribute to our cause.

We think its important for people in Western society to understand that our work isn't just about Westerners saving the lives of poor people in Africa. It is about empowering local communities and inspiring them to work toward a common goal; having a happy, healthy life, and providing a brighter future for the next generation. Words cannot express how grateful the Tanzanian communities are for us having planted a seed for them to flourish and grow.

There are so many intelligent, business savvy individuals here that have goals and ambitions. They all strive to build a promising future for themselves and their families, but it is the lack of resources that hold them back. The perception that African's don't know how to care for, understand, and help their people is always misconstrued. There have been numerous occasions where we have come across locals who have begun their own projects and are determined to volunteer their time and money to assist their communities. Sometimes it just takes opening the door

This has been such a huge learning experience for us and we hope that it has been for you as well. Thank you again for your support and for helping us plant the seed...




 
 
Two weeks ago the father of Grace invited us to his home on July 2nd for her birthday party. We had already planned a small vacation to the coast of Kenya, but were more than happy to ensure we would return just in time for the gathering. On the dalla dalla ride to Njiapanda village we discussed our expectations of what this day would entail. We figured maybe there would be a few of Grace's family members sitting around a table, eating food, and sharing laughs together.

As we approached the house we could hear loud music and became excited at the thought of a potential dance party with some of the locals. We were greeted by a number of Mama's, who grabbed us by the arms and scurried us around the corner of the house. Little did we know, there was a minister preaching to an entire village of people, and a row of chairs set up for us to face the crowd. As the minister announced our arrival, everyone stood up and began cheering. We were completely taken by suprise to find out that not only were we celebrating Grace's birthday, but also they had prepared a celebration of thanks in our honor. For the next couple of hours a number of Grace's family members and locals came forward with prepared speeches about how grateful they were for the work we had done. Because it was a Christian gathering, there was a lot of praying, singing, dancing, and overall feelings of joy and happiness.  Jennilee and I were completely overwhelmed, to the point where we couldn't look at one another because we might burst out in tears. All of the Mama's at the party lined up to give us hugs and kisses, and they had even bought us a gift. We truly did feel like Queens for a day!

After the ceremony we proceeded to eat mounds and mounds of deliciously prepared food until we couldn't breath. We figured we should probably be on our way home, as it was nearing 430 pm, and the sun goes down so early in Tanzania. However, when we tried to say thank you and goodbye, the music was turned up and everyone began dancing as if it were their last day on earth. Of course we couldn't help but shake our matako (butt)!

We are so grateful for the lives we live and fully realize that not everyone in the world is granted equal opportunities. Improving the lives of those who need it is one of the most rewarding feelings. It is moments like these that make everything worthwhile in the end!







 
 
After two months working alongside our local contractor and his team we have finally completed the construction of two classrooms and a playground for the children. If anything, our experience has taught us that patience truly is a virtue! All of the work was done manually without the assistance of machinery, one of the luxuries we so often take advantage of in Western society. For example, concrete was mixed in a dug up hole in the ground with water and sand, which was stirred with wooden sticks.

Even in Canada there can be setbacks in construction progress. However, when the entire country of Tanzania was out of plywood we began to worry if there would be a divider between the two classrooms. Luckily we were able to order just enough plywood for our project. We waited two weeks for it to arrive, only to be informed that we must pay a "special price". On our first day our contractor left to retrieve sand and mortar for the concrete and bricklaying phase of the building. So we decided to stay back and prepare the site with some of our local volunteers that generously offered their time and efforts. After 2.5 hours passed, Richard (our contractor) frantically ran back to the site, explaining in kiswahili that the Tanzanian authorities caught him taking sand from an uncertified company. He spent the majority of the morning bribing the police to let him bring the truckload to the site, and managed to get away by paying them 50,000 TSH ($30 CND). Jennilee and I looked at one another, shaking our heads while thinking how corrupt the authorities in the entire continent of Africa can be. However, this is the norm here, and bribing is a frequent occurrence in developing countries.

Although it has been a lengthy process, we feel extremely grateful that we were able to find such a great team of workers. Not to mention the fact that we had to dig up an entire acre of land, using old shovels and rakes. Thankfully, a handful of local Tanzanian volunteers were more than willing to give us their time and support our cause. The two classrooms will be an excellent learning environment for the children as there is plentiful space and air circulation. Njiapanda Centre for Street Children are absolutely thrilled about the playground and intend on fully utilizing the field for playing games and activities.