Hello friends. I hope you have been happy lately.
Materially, a lot has happened since the last update. We dug a 30-foot-deep well. We built bathroom.
We made an rural, gully-ridden dirt road passable.
We slashed a bunch of grass and took out 10 or so bushes.
We got a brick machine.
While this has been exciting, it has been important to remember that this is all just preparation for the stuff that really matters. Preparation to make bricks cheaper for Churches in Northern Tanzania. Preparation for giving a job and a skill to some youth who have lived much of their lives on the streets.
The stuff that really matters starts this week, when we train Yusufu, Marwa, and Josef Marwa, Justin Matiko, and Samson on how to use the machine. It starts when they start saving up money and learning a useful skill. It starts when they start to see hope in their future, and a chance to leave the streets.
When I first started to notice children and youth living on the streets, I remember feeling so sad for these folks whose parents had died so early. It never entered my mind that most of them might have living parents and other relatives.
But the majority do.
I live with Mwita, who oversees our efforts to return these children and youth to their families, and he has filled me in on the details on many of their lives. They find themselves on the streets because their father was in jail and their stepmother refused to feed them, or because their mother is a prostitute and is challenging to live with, or because their mother has an undiagnosed mental illness and won’t allow them to live with their father. Parents, step-parents, and grandparents come home drunk, or beat them, or give them a load of household responsibilities that they find excessive.
Some of the clearest joy I feel in Tanzania comes when I am walking down a street and run into a young woman or man who used to live on the streets. They smile, are clean-shaven, and have clean clothes or a school uniform on. I feel thankful to the family they are living with, whether it’s their birth family, or a new family that Mwita and the Our Father’s House folks found for them.
In 2018, we are hoping to sponsor 20 more youth and children through this reunification process (Yes, that unfamiliar word in the title is Swahili for “twenty”). For the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of their stories, in case you are interested in connecting with one of them. Thank you for supporting these youth who will get skills and a job with the brick project, and like our page to stay tuned for their stories: #20in2018.