In the new world of COVID 19
We are facing uncertain times. The world has certainly turned upside down in the past few months. I hope you are well and staying home during this time.
I need to say thank you for being part of our community. Whether you’re a program partner, a supporter, a donor, or a volunteer, we’re glad to have you as part of our family.
It seems like a different world since I arrived in Tanzania in early February, I was busy working with the team on the ground in Tanzania, building, painting, donating supplies and educating children. In the evening I was watching the news unfolding in the world. I watched with anxiety as the spread of COVID 19 spread through China, then soon thereafter spread to Europe and the USA at alarming rates.
I remember the day it arrived in Tanzania: March 16, 2020. The invisible monster was in Tanzania. I can clearly recall the rush of events. The Tanzanian government closed all schools within the first two days. Teachers were scrambling to prepare work assignments and we developed a library system for our books, so our students can continue to do some work over the 30-day period. (which I am sure will be added too). . The parents come weekly, return a book and choose another one for their child, all on the honor system. The day anxiety hit our staff, families, friends and our artisans.
Many of our students come from disadvantaged households, there is no online learning component; no internet, no laptops, no tablets. We had to figure out ways to keep our students learning and keep our teachers at home. Another challenge is that 99% of our parents don’t speak English, and many don’t have more than a grade seven education. Asking them to help their children has limitations.
Our teachers are doing the best they could ; all while terrified themselves of this unseen threat.
Many of our families live day by day selling fruits, gasoline, some parents are in the tourism industry; porters at Mt. Kilimanjaro, cooks at a nearby hostel and some working in the flower industry, all decimated by the current events.
We sent our Masai watchmen home; furloughed, so they could be with their community and families during this time. We made arrangements for our maintenance worker to move into our staff housing and reduced our watchman to one local villager.
We invited our school manager to move into our school offices with his family to keep him out of the congestion of Arusha and social distance on our three acre campus.
The world was spinning so fast. Bruce was in Tanzania with me for three weeks when the terror struck. We both received notifications of cancelled flights with the impossible task of getting in touch with our airlines to reschedule.
Bruce was flying out of Nairobi and I was finally able to rebook him on the last Lufthansa flight out of Nairobi on the 22nd of March. The only problem then was Kenya closed their land border on the 21st. One by one, each African country was closing not only their land borders but all of their international flights. Bruce was able to fly out of Kilimanjaro airport to Nairobi and catch that last flight, but I was left in Tanzania with Delta telling me to call the Department of State.
It was a very stressful time for me, as much as I love being in Tanzania and spending time with our staff, students and artisans, I knew I needed to get back home. As frightening as the number of cases in the USA, I knew that in a short time, the number of cases would sky rocket in Tanzania and it was not a place I wanted to ride out the storm. With KLM/Delta unable to get me home, I called Ethiopian airways, begging them to get me to Boston the following day. Fortunately, there was one seat left on a flight from Addis Ababa to Washington DC. I booked it, the first time in my life the cost of the flight was not important. I arrived into Manchester, NH (no flights to Boston from DC) on March 27th numb and grateful.
Upon arrival in the USA, TSF joined everyone in the new experiment of social distancing. Working from home, we now look out on events whose outcome no one can predict and are reminded daily of the sacrifice of all essential workers, from mail carriers, supermarket workers to doctors and nurses, who make possible this unending fight against COVID-19.
At TSF, USA we are confident that while new realities may change the way we educate children, our mission persists. Our mission is as important as ever in new time.
In an effort to support our work, we supported (and continue to support) a group of tailors who make beautiful, colorful, fashionable and practical face masks which we are selling to help protect you from COVID 19. Please consider supporting our work in Tanzania by purchasing one (or ten of them). $12 each, free shipping
All orders will be shipped on the 17th of April. (our next shippment arrives) It would be great if demand was so high we can keep the tailors working!
While these are challenging times, the entire world stands united in this invisible threat.
Please keep our friends, colleagues and students in Tanzania in your thoughts and prayers…
Stay safe, stay home. Thank you for all you have done for us in the past, present and future.