First, I want to apologize that this update on the work is overdue. Second, I want to let all of you know that I will be in the U.S. from July 14th until August 19th. You all have been so kind to me, and I would love to meet with any of you while I am around. That could mean speaking with your Church, or eating lunch or drinking coffee together. I’ll be in Mobile, Auburn, Montgomery, the Wiregrass, and Panama City areas for sure, and possibly in some other places. I am looking forward to seeing quite a few of y’all.
During March and April, I worked on getting the brick project started as a joint project shared by two Churches in Mwanza. As the weeks went by, I came to see that these Churches weren’t ready to receive the project, and that if the project was to be in Mwanza, I would need to be the one managing it. Since my role is to empower these folks to do their own projects instead of managing projects for them, we moved the project to Tarime. We are continuing to work through Asset-based community development with the Mwanza Churches, and eventually they’ll be able to start a project of their own.
In Tarime, the Mara District of the UMC will oversee the project. In Tarime, there is a UMC project helps the youth who live on the streets to resolve the conflict they have had with their families and to be reunited with them. A few youth who we are still trying to reunite with their families will be chosen to work the machine, which will give them hands-on training in brick-making. The project will still be used to provide bricks for Churches and Church projects, and will have the added benefit of helping these youth to learn a skill.
For four years, Baba Mwita Baita has been working on reuniting these youth who live on the streets with their families, and he will be the coordinator of the brick making. Mwita himself was kicked out of his house when he was in second grade and lived the next years of his life on the streets or bouncing around from house to house. As an adult, he fell into the domestic violence and alcohol abuse so common among men in the Tarime area, until he came to know Jesus through the growing United Methodist Church in the area. As we’ve been working together more, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Mwita. When in Tarime, I stay at this house, and I feel at peace, thankful to have another Tanzanian friend. Each morning, I admire his excitement and commitment to go work with the youth on the mission of reuniting them with their families. He’s been pretty excited about the brick project, and normally finishes writing the budgets or work plans that we need in two days at the most. I’m excited to see where this goes.