Monday, July 02, 2012

June 2012, Travels To St. Dymphna

In June, I traveled to Arusha, Tanzania for 2 weeks to visit St. Dymphna Special School and have many things to share with you. Since my last visit the 2nd addition to the school has been completed (minus the installation of toilets, showers and plumbing in the second restroom facility). It was nice to be able to see all of the children learning/playing in their classrooms.
Pictures of most recent classrooms and school cafeteria (a volunteer has purchasd tables and chairs for the cafeteria and they are waiting for them to be finished)

During my time at the school a gracious volunteer, Shyam Devani, raised money by hiking Kilimanjaro, which provided enough money to build a school well. He oversaw the construction process, helped negotatiate for building materials, and even did some hands-on work of the building of the well. The well will allow the school to have access to running water at all times. They will be adding gutters to the school, which will drain water into the well and allow the school to store water. Below is a picture of the well during construction process. I will share photos of the finished project when done.

St. Dymphna's Immediate Needs:

We plan to add western style toilets, a shower and plumbing to the school restrooms. This will cost approximately $800,000 = $550.00 US Dollars
Lastly, the school vehicle is in need of a new engine and the seats need to be welded. This will cost approx. $3M TSchillings = Approx. $2000 US Dollars

St. Dymphna Sponsor A Student:

Because the school was privately started (with no government involvement) the government will not help with any operating costs. In addition, students who attend St. Dymphna Special School come from very poor families who can barely afford to eat for the day, let alone be able to pay a tuition to send their child to school. This means that the school relies on donations/sponsorships/volunteers to help with the school operating costs.
It costs approx. $1.2M TSchillings to fund a child's education for ONE Full school year at St. Dymphna. This is equivalent to $800 US Dollars for one school year. If you or anyone you know is interested in sponsoring a child's education, please contact me and I'd be happy to help you set this up.

In addition to the well, the school is in immediate need of a Septic Tank, which will cost appromixately $1.5 Million TSchillings = Approx $1000 US Dollars.

Monday, June 13, 2011

St. Dymphna's Wonderful Students

Below you will find the stories of our many students who are attending St. Dymphna Special Needs School. Many of them have had struggling life experiences, which have now led them to St. Dymphna Special Needs Schools.

Yeyoni and Elisha

Yeyoni and Elisha are two children from traditional Massai families who stand as examples of the lack of understanding or compassion some parents feel for special needs children in Tanzania. Yeyoni’s mother frequently beats her and keeps her locked up instead of sending her to school, aggravating her already severe cerebral palsy, and Elisha was sent to our school 4 months ago despite us having neither the space nor the funds to support another student. When we explained this to his parents they gave us a choice: either we could take him or they could kill him, either way he couldn’t stay with them any longer. They sent him to stay with a relative who lived closer to the school and now he is slowly learning to feel safe and happy for the first time.

Moody, Moody, and Moody

If in doubt of a child’s name at our school just say “Moody” and chances are you’ll be right. Our three Moody’s suffer from Down syndrome, deafness, and autism respectively, and they’re all equally attention seeking! From Moody trying to show off his latest sign language to Moody trying to show off his older cousin (also called Moody) you will be hard pushed to find a more fun and affectionate group of boys.

Michael and Paulo

Another sibling pair, the story of these two brothers is a rare happy ending. Abandoned by their parents and rejected by their community they set off to find a new home and family, walking for days over the hills surrounding their village until they reached Arusha. Here they were taken in by a family living near the school and have now been given another chance at their childhood.

Jackson and Lucy–9 & 3 years old

Jackson (9) and Lucy (3) are a brother and sister team living on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately their story is not a happy one as they are two of the most financially vulnerable children that we support. Although their mother works hard washing clothes she only earns a small amount of money per week, nowhere near enough to support Jackson, Lucy, and their 3 other siblings. In addition their father suffers from alcohol addiction and their one room house is inadequately roofed to keep out the rain or cold. Jackson, whose only major learning disability is dyslexia, takes good care of Lucy who suffers from Down syndrome and has only recently learnt to walk. Since opening our volunteering project however we have been able to employ Jackson’s mother and are now much better placed to ensure the wellbeing of this family.

Sammy – 16 years old

Sammy is one of the sweetest children you’ll ever meet. Living in town with his father, a preacher, Sammy has a rare form of dwarfism, which means that, despite being 16 years old, he has the body of a 6 year old, and the mind of an even younger child. Sammy needs help performing almost all everyday tasks such as walking, eating, and going to the bathroom, however he is one of the happiest students we have! He loves music, counting, and learning new words.

John Lukumai– 12 years old

John is severely autistic and is currently speechless. In addition, he is an extremely hyperactive child. Attending school has helped him improve his behavior and life skills. He is still working on being toilet trained. John lives with only his mother because his father passed away. He and his mother live in very poor conditions. When he comes to school the teachers clothe and feed him since he rarely gets to eat at home.

Sara Edward– 15 years old

Sara has Cerebral Palsy and has great difficulties walking. She is working on exercises to help her with her balance and to improve her walking. Reading is very challenging for her and she practices regularly to become better at it. She is working on writing and counting. She also practices sewing and making beaded necklaces to help make money in her future. She loves attending school and is able to eat multiple meals at school, which she did not always get at her home. She loves being at school and takes great pride in the clothes that she makes and sells at school.

Joyce Mente– 14 years old

Joyce has Cerebral Palsy, which has paralyzed her right hand and leg. At school she is working on exercises to learn how to use her right hand. Joyce is learning how to use a sewing machine to make clothes and she also practices bead work. These traits will allow her to make a living when she is older. She is also focusing on reading and writing at school. She loves attending school and her life has improved greatly as she is eating on a daily basis now.

Julius Joel – 5 ½ years old

Julius has Down Syndrome and before attending St. Dymphna school he could speak only a few words. Julius lives in a village and comes from a very poor family. Since attending St. Dymphna he is now communicating with teachers and other students. He is also being fed at school, which did not always happen in the past at home because of lack of money. Julius loves going to school and after every meal that he eats at school he will thank all of his teachers by going around and shaking their hands.

Baraka Jastine– 8 years old

Baraka has mental and developmental disabilities and was born with club feet. He recently had surgery to straighten his feet and help him to begin to walk. Baraka lives in a small village and comes from a very poor family. Their most prized possessions are their two cattle. Baraka started at St. Dymphna not being able to speak, but since has improved his verbal communication and can carry on small conversations with teachers and other students.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo Update

I promise there will be an actual update coming soon. But in the meantime here are some new photos. I received these from Mary today. She is now teaching full time at St. Dymphna and the school continues to grow in physical size and in the number of students. As soon as I have details I will post the update.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

This Is What You've Made Possible!

It's amazing how much St. Dymphna has grown over the past 6 months. Recently the builders have completed the roofing for the first floor along with 2 additional classrooms. They continue to work on completion of classrooms, an administrative office, and roofing for the second floor. Most importantly, when the rest of the school is completed the remaining students on the waiting list will begin to attend school. I could continue to write about all of the progress that St. Dymphna has undergone, but it seems best to let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!

Thank You!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Building Progress!!

Hello Family and Friends!

We are thrilled to tell you about how quickly St. Dymphna’s School has grown since our trip to Tanzania in January of 2008. Mary, the director of the school, has recently sent us many new photos and we wanted to share our sense of pride with you in hope that you will feel the same way. It is only through your continued support that this project has been able to become what it is today…a functioning school for special needs children in Tanzania.

As you see will from the photos below the second building is almost complete and is now home to one completed classroom, a storefront and functioning bathrooms. Yet to be completed in the second building is the classroom for continuing education for special needs young adults where these students will be taught how to cook, make various curios and sew. All of the products made in the class will be sold in the school store. The store will function to not only help sustain the adult education project but also the experience of selling goods will be a learning opportunity for students striving to gain employment in the future.

The third building continues to grow. Currently the foundation and walls are completed for the first floor of the building. This building will consist of classrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

The best news of all is that we now have ten children attending school daily at St. Dymphna. Our goal of providing a safe place for special needs children to learn and grow is being realized even as the building continues to grow around them. Mary and all of the children are incredibly grateful and asked me to pass along their appreciation.

There is still much work to be done, but I hope that you agree that with your help, we’ve accomplished a great deal.

Thank you again for all of your support. Through your contribution to Brick by Brick you are truly saving lives.

With Gratitude,
Colleen and Kari