For several years now, Reneal has partnered with our church in Cebu (United Church of Christ in the Philippines, UCCP) to administer a scholarship program for public high school students. One batch of students has graduated and we now have fourteen Grade 9 and Grade 10 scholars in the program. We are excited to report that Reneal’s Board of Directors just approved a similar program for public high school students in Tanzania at the last board meeting. Starting at the beginning of the 2018 school year in January, Reneal will be supporting six high school students in Tanzania with a scholarship.
Now that we’re between trips to Tanzania and the Philippines, Neal and I are in the midst of spending time with family. The next big thing on the Reneal calendar is the Board of Directors meeting on November 11th. We’ll recap the 2017 Tanzania trip and lay plans for 2018 in both the Philippines and Tanzania.
Neal and I are home again following our time in Tanzania. It is bittersweet, as always: good to be home but missing our dear friends now so far away. The trip turned out well, with computer lab installations in two new schools in Arusha, visits to the existing eight computer labs, and the joint work with The School Fund Tanzania. But this business is much more than getting computers into schools. More importantly, it seemed this time that our team has turned a corner in getting students’ hands on computers in Arusha.
It’s been a week that we expected to be busy, and it was. Despite some twists and turns, we were able to complete the remaining four Reneal school visits, meet with Asante Africa, celebrate the invaluable contributions of Habari Node and Arusha Marie, have an absolutely fantastic Arusha Super User Review Training, and close out the week with a knowledge transfer session with Neal, Reneal School Liaison David Nyangaka, and Mr. Hezron Ipyana of Oldadai Secondary School. Sunday we had just a few loose ends to tie up with the software we’re leaving behind, and we transferred the boxes of items we’re leaving behind to David. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be heading home tonight!
Another busy week here, finishing up the installation and training at Mateves Secondary School, visiting two of our existing Arusha school sites, and returning for a day to the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) for some server updates. We were also very grateful for chance to meet with Arusha District Council Executive Director Dr. Charles Wilson Mahera. The Arusha District Council has provided invaluable support to Reneal – it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be here today without their enthusiastic and effective work on behalf of Reneal.
So much for my expectation of putting up a blog post while we were in Iringa! It turned out to be an incredibly intense ten days of work and travel, and we immediately restarted the work in Arusha upon our return Thursday. We are so grateful to have a quiet weekend at last to catch our breath and rest a little.
Week 1 in Tanzania has already flown by – it seems like just yesterday that we were anxiously packing gear and weighing boxes in preparation for our flight. It’s been a wonderful beginning to our work here, with the installation at Nduruma Secondary School already completed and one of our existing schools already visited. While I always make up a schedule before a trip, it is miraculous that we have actually followed it so far! But the magic must really be credited to so many people that have helped us: Reneal School Liaison David Nyangaka, the Headmaster and teachers at Nduruma Secondary School, Judy Severson from our partner NGO The School Fund Tanzania, Habari Node and Arusha Node Marie, and folks at the Lutheran Centre in Arusha where we are staying.
It’s our last full day here at home before we leave for Tanzania tomorrow. The trip that has been on the horizon for months now is finally at hand! Nine of the ten boxes of equipment are closed and taped up, and most of the rest of the gear is stuffed into duffel bags already. No matter how much time there is though, there is always a rush at the end. I imagine the schools are feeling the same excitement – and panic – as they prepare for our arrival!
There’s a lot in the news these days about high stress levels in the lives of Americans – too much work and not enough time, rushing from here to there with no time to relax. Now that I’m out of the realm of paid employment, it’s interesting to note that I’m still stressed out! As Neal and I prepare for the upcoming time in Tanzania, the work days are getting longer and I’m waking up in the middle of the night making mental lists of things I need to do – and of course worrying about things that I can’t control. But in the grand scheme of things, we wouldn’t want it any other way. For us, too little stress is perhaps worse than too much.
The nearer our departure date gets, the faster time seems to fly. Neal has a few more tweaks of the server software to make, but I’ve already tested much of it and it’s very close to final. Then he’ll burn the hard disks with the image and we’ll be ready to pack. One other wonderful piece of news this week was that the fabric donated by my former co-worker Jennifer Robles and her sewing club arrived at schools in the Philippines. The happy looks on their faces says it all!