Due to the tremendous response with messages and emails about my last Pilau Day, we have started discussions on how to establish a donor option for Pilau Day. I have had people from St. Joseph, the Mailisita Foundation and friends from all over asking how they can contribute to improving the nutrition for our students and I could not be happier! Obviously nutrition is extremely important in the development of the children, and I have not abandoned my plans for improving the daily meals (in fact I have a whole financial plan already waiting to be approved) but there is no harm in adding a little more pilau to our children’s lives. I will keep you all posted on the progress we make, but with Mama’s support and Fr. Kitali’s it will hopefully become an established part of our school’s program! We are now finished with our second week of holiday review with the children and are about to start our third week. At the hotel we have seen a steady stream of guests coming through, all with positive experiences and encouraging words. They enjoy staying with us, but most of all they enjoy knowing that their stay at Stella Maris Executive Lodge is directly benefiting the children and community. We have welcomed guests from the United States, Canada and Lithuania in the past week all thankful for the opportunity to be a part of helping here in Tanzania. We are also very happy to welcome back our good friend Adam Archer, who will be volunteering at the school and staying in Stella Maris Lodge until next June! We are all happy to have him back, and I am glad to have another friend here in the hotel every night!
|Diana and her beautiful smile|
The revision with the students has been greatly beneficial. I have been working a lot with our P1 and P2 students on their speaking skills and have enjoyed getting to know them as learners. In addition I have been teaching the Math review for our P3 students who have been learning multiplication and long division this year. These are all very difficult for the students, but we have really been having fun. Of course I take my work very seriously, but I do try to keep it fun for the children by involving as many students as I can in every lesson with plays, stories and joking with the children. The children and staff have responded very positively to the change of pace and change in style of teaching. Every child learns differently and needs different things from a teacher, in a given day I may have to be a nurse, counselor, father, brother, administrator, farmer, construction worker and of course a teacher. So one of the greatest joys I get is every day is learning what and how to be what every child needs in my classroom. After my most recent discussion with our headmistress, she decided that it is best if I teach at all 3 levels in the areas of highest need (where our students scored lowest in key subjects of English and Math). So now I will get to know 116 different learners even better, because I will be teaching every single one of them in a given day! Of course that is kind of a tall task, but I would not have it any other way. I’m looking forward to the challenge of balancing 116 students’ educational and personal needs daily and being able to be a part of every class.
|Martin reading with some of his new friends|
|Martin and one of his happy new students he sponsors|
One of the best highlights this week was welcoming a great friend, Martin Morgan to Stella Maris. Martin and I have known each other for two years after meeting in Tanzania while staying at Karanga. Martin is from Ireland and leads groups of high school students on mission trips here in Tanzania serving poor rural schools. This previous year he brought all of his students to volunteer for a day of reading at Stella Maris so he could meet our children. Over the past year he never forgot about our project or our children. This year I welcomed him again to the school so he could spend a day with our children and see the great progress made at our hotel. This year was a bit different though because he decided to surprise me and the children with a very generous donation and a commitment to sponsor two of our students! He said he was moved by our story, the project, the success but most of all the infectious joy of the children. In just a matter of hours at the school the previous year he fell in love with all the students and saw an opportunity to support these children in a more personal way. Martin has a niece that is a similar age to our students and immediately felt a connection to our students and wanted to become more connected. I have said this many times but it’s worth repeating; the children’s smiles are contagious and Martin caught the bug right away. With our students beginning to understand more and more of the relationship between the Mailisita Foundation and the school, they are now more eager than ever to meet or know their sponsors. Our P3 students have been practicing writing letters so they can begin communicating directly with their sponsors more frequently. During Martin’s visit he was able to get to know his two new children he was going to sponsor for the next year and the children were able to meet him too. I wish everyone was there to see the look on Martin’s and his student’s faces as he told them he was their sponsor. They were so excited, hugged one another and immediately wanted to take pictures together. To this day I still get the question “when is Martin coming back?” Every day I am blessed to see these connections made and to be a part of the children knowing how much they are loved by so many different people. I only wish that every sponsor had the opportunity to experience what Martin did. With 74 un-sponsored children at our school, I am so happy to see that two more children are sponsored and have them know how much they are loved in another special way. If you want to sponsor a child like Martin please contact me or the foundation, I am always looking for new sponsors. For $300 you can help pay for the educational needs of a child at Stella Maris and begin your own special connection to one of our incredible students.
|Martin also brought us brand new soccer balls!|
We thank Martin for his support and commitment to making a difference in the lives of our children. I am blessed to call him a friend and his generosity is inspiring. Every day our project grows a little bit more and although I am so proud of everyone at the foundation I am especially proud of our children here. They continue to be an amazing example of God’s love for all of us through the way they spread their joy. They are able to penetrate our hearts and never leave our minds whether we have known them for years, months, weeks, a few hours or only through letters and pictures. They are a constant example of how we should all act. These children are all united as a community, working towards the common goal of making it to higher education and caring for one another along the way. Seemingly every week I bring in new visitors to our school and every time the children are so happy and greet them with the same warmth. Through just their smiles in the pictures you can see the incredible joy our school brings, but also how blessed we are to know that we have an opportunity to serve them and help them. The children of Mailisita continue to be an example to all of us about the power of a smile can do and a daily reminder to all of to just smile a little bit more.