Where has Mr. Terry/Mr. Mulligan been for the past few months? Well he has been busy! I would like to start off by blaming someone else, Mr. Adam Archer. Never have I relied on someone so much without realizing it. We split the work of the school, hotel and guests while remaining such great friends for nearly a year that I had no idea how much he was doing until I had to fill his shoes. There is no replacement for a friend, but most of all the constant inspiration and motivation we provided for one another. He is someone who doesn’t just sit back or talk about a problem but actually had the courage to try to fix a problem. He is someone who seizes opportunities to be caring and loving for these children who need him. Even now, there is no one person who checks in through messages and emails more than Adam Archer. After spending the last two years, forfeiting his salary and life back home, he still would like nothing more than to still be here working to help these children and carry this project further. That was not God’s plan for Adam though and I was blessed that He brought Adam and I together in Tanzania to do this work.
Well so what have I been doing? Well besides my normal responsibilities, I had to add Adam’s daily contributions with running the volunteer program for our two schools for a couple dozen volunteers, act as the concierge/representative during the very busy high season, sign new clients/companies to guarantee business and continue to teach, support our school staff through transitions while beginning to work for MEDLIFE as the country Director and Mobile School Director. I must admit that the blog seemed like a burden to me which I regret now because I wish I would have shared about the amazing things I have been lucky enough to be a part of. Also because I would never want my students and friends back home to think I forgot about them. I just got busy with all the stories I should have shared: Emanuela’ eyes, Lidia and Marietha’s home, Inno’s sister, Clementina’s school, Sylvano’s broken arm, Jamal’s mother, Emanuel’s teeth, Stivin’s worms, Diana’s malaria and many stories of children in need at Stella Maris over the past few months. Each one strengthening the bond that I have built with this community, that allowed me to then effectively establish MEDLIFE in dozens of new communities. I have learned that leading by example, telling the truth no matter what (even if it is telling someone you can’t help them), remaining positive and starting days with a smile will build trust in those around you that when they need you, they can trust you. For the past two years and a few months, I have just tried to be there for everyone at our school and I can honestly say I still love being there for those who need me just as much as I have from the first day. This was never more important than working with the church and community leaders to remove a child from a home where (parents of my children at St. Joseph please take care in reading further) she was being abused physically and mentally. They verbally and physically hurt her in ways that I have only previously read about but through a partnership of community leaders, trust and respect for one another we were able to help one child. And if there is a silver lining to the story as well, the family was even removed from their community by their neighbors. But for about a month I struggled through one of the most trying times of my life, worked really hard and when it seemed impossible, stuck it out because I knew that I had an opportunity to help someone. The leaders came to me when they reached impasses and asked for my advice which to me was the greatest reminder of why we partnered with this community from the beginning. Because at the end of the day we all want to do what’s right for those who need us.
Life is a learning process and my work which is dedicated to serving the poor, disadvantaged, orphaned or sick is something that has a huge learning curve. Not only is it a constant education, but it is also not easy. In fact I said to one of my MEDLIFE volunteers that my greatest successes personally were also the times that I have been tested the most emotionally. If you surround yourself with friends, loved ones and people that truly believe in the value of an individual’s life than you will be ok. I have realized that I can’t do anything alone, never have, and never will because I always have had Him to protect me and guide my work. Now I even have a career that will allow me to continue to care for those around me and help others to lead lives of service or include service in their lives. Although this career will eventually lead me out of a school in the traditional capacity of a teacher, I have accomplished one of my greater personal goals of being involved in the care of more people. To direct aid to communities that are underserved and provide services and education to those who need it most to empower them to make changes in their own lives. In our very first Mobile Medical Clinic we served and educated (on preventative medicine health initiatives) more than 1,300 people in three different communities. All it did was make me hungrier to serve more people.
So for now I continue to teach English every day at Stella Maris and then write curriculum for our Mobile Schools program that combines preventative medicine education with lessons based around ideals of individuality, love for one’s self and encouraging hopes and dreams. Just this weekend I had a meeting with one of the largest street children aid organizations to discuss what issues we need to cover. Together with the guidance of local school leaders, teachers, social workers, NGOs and education secretary’ we are working on a program that will be used to positively influence the personal health and well-being of children, young adults and adults. It is certainly an exciting time…
I realize now that a lot of what I am not sharing with everyone at home is exactly what everyone wants to hear about. For example, my meeting next week with a major volunteer organization/business will hopefully secure our third major contract next Thursday and keep us well on our way to guaranteeing business yearly for our hotel which in turn will keep our school open. I will keep you all updated on that as well as the funny and happy stories that remind us all of why these children are so important to all of us. So my promise is to write again, because my parents told me to. They are the reason I am here, the reason I care so much. People always ask me how I got into this work, but I have realized there is only one answer, it is because of my parents. They made it a part of our family’s identity. So I should probably keep on listening to them because it has gotten me this far, and their next request was to write about the first Medical Clinic and what it was like to serve 1,300 people over four days. At least I already have my next post… Until next time.
A whole lot of love for all of you,
P.S. Sorry for writing so much I and me, but I didn’t know how else to write about the last three months concisely. Pole sana! Also please keep our friends in Kenya in your prayers.