Friday, September 9, 2011
The thirteen scholarship students (nine finishing this year and four just starting) came by today to get their photo ID cards and money for tuition. Karen has each of them get a photo ID card that we issue (the school does not issue them) and we give each student a check for their tuition, room and board, and fees, along with a payment voucher that the school must sign and return to us. They cannot claim the student didn't pay or didn't pay enough. When we first started this program, several years ago, I wrote one check to the principal of the school for the full amount for all the students. Then later in the year the kids would complain they needed more money for more fees. There was no question that we were overpaying and that money was going astray. With this new system, everybody stays honest. We wrote thirteen checks and filled out thirteen payment vouchers and took their pictures individually and as a group. They were so happy because they each had to be poor, Christian, and willing to teach in Tanzania at the end of their two-year training, and they were all going to be teachers which means status, and money to help with their families. Not to mention improving education in Tanzania. One of the young men you can see in the picture at right is in need of a hand-cranked wheelchair. The Catholic charities no longer underwrite this program, so a custom built chair costs $300. This would be a great project for a Sunday School class or youth group. Once we get the money, it takes about three weeks to get the chair. We have given three of these over the years, and there is no way to express the joy, hope, and freedom we see in the eyes of the recipients. If you've got an extra $300, it would be money well spent. Karen is so much better but still tires easily. It will take a while to regain all her strength. Bwana Masele has been out for several days because his son was in an accident and had to be taken to Bugando Hospital in Mwanza to fix his dislocated hip. We paid for half the fees, but Bwana Masele was able to cover the rest. We hope to see him back on Monday. Edina's mother and sister are both starving in an area of Tanzania hard hit by drought, so Shaban helped her learn to transfer money by phone so they could eat. Edina supplied the phone, we supplied the money. Every day, we have to decide who to help and with how much since we are living off our social security. Even at that, we are considered quite wealthy by Tanzanian standards. In the U.S., we would qualify for food stamps. As in real estate and as in eternity it is all about location, location, location.