Greetings from Sr. Mary
Greetings from Tanzania.
Greetings from Tanzania. I hope you are all well and safe. So far, we are all well. Tanzania had its first case of Covid-19 in mid-March. The government urged people to social distance, wear masks, wash hands, but did not demand lock downs, rather urging people to go to work. All schools and educational institutions were closed and all students went home. They were encouraged to study on line, but so many children do not have any access to on-line learning.
All our students went home, except for 4 or 5 girls who had no place to go. We told the girls if they faced problems at home, they should let us know and we would take steps to protect them. One day, a girl, her mother and her aunt all contacted me, saying that this girl was to be married on June 16th! She is supposed to finish her studies in December. Two of our staff went to her village to talk with the family and found that it was true-- she was being married off. They put her in the hands of the village chairperson, telling him if anything happened to her, he was responsible and we would take the case to higher authorities. For now, she is safe.
We don’t know how many other girls are facing similar situations. There was an article in the local papers that said World Vision had reported that Coronavirus has put 4 million girls in Africa at risk of child marriage. With schools closed, girls are in danger of getting pregnant, also. Our girls are part of this number. I am more afraid of them being married and getting pregnant than I am concerned with them getting Covid-19.
The government is saying that the cases of Covid in Tanzania have declined sharply (although there have been no statistics announced for over 2 weeks!) and the president is considering opening schools next week. We are not sure how many students will return, nor how many will return in good health.
Many of you have not heard from me in a long time. Our donor services at Maryknoll have been on lockdown, so we have not received any word of donations since February. I depend on your donations to run Emusoi and fortunately with the schools closed and students at home, expenses have been low. However, we still are paying salaries, utilities, etc. Now as soon as the students return, we will need to buy supplies for them and pay all the bus fare for students to return to school, which is thousands of dollars along with school fees! I am hearing that Maryknoll is slowly opening up and workers will be returning. So, I hope to hear of some donations and get access to them.
I usually send out an appeal for donations twice a year-at Christmas and mid-year. This is my mid-year appeal. I am asking that you be generous to us. Last year, we lost one of our faithful big donors. This year, one of our local donors, a tour company, contributed in January and February, but now they cannot help us. This company donates a percentage of their profits (usually about $50,000 per year) to us. But now there are no tourists and they have no profit; so, we will not get that amount this year. We are facing a real shortfall in our income.
I know all of you are suffering, too. Many are out of work; others have sick in their families; your investments and savings have been devalued and yet I am still asking help from you. We have paid some of the school fees for first term and a few schools have asked for fees during this time of closure, but students were only in school for half term, so it’s not clear how much we need to pay. However, as schools open up, they will be demanding the second term fees and whatever is still owing. We are not even sure what’s going to happen with the students—will they make up classes? What about the students who were supposed to take National exams? We have students in Form 6 who were supposed to take exams this month. When will they take their exams to see if they qualify for University studies?
We have been at stand-still since mid-March and once the whole system opens up again, we will need lots of money at one time. So, I am turning to you and your generosity for help. Please contribute to help us get our girls back into school. I am also asking for your prayers. When I think of all our students travelling from their homes back to Emusoi and then going on to school, I am so afraid of them getting infected. They have been safer in the villages away from the virus, but now they are coming back into the towns where infection rates are much higher. They will travel in crowded buses, meet crowds of people at bus stops and stations and I don’t know what schools will do for social distancing. We are not even sure of what we can do for the students here at Emusoi if they all report back to school at the same time.
I feel such a sense of helplessness and being out of control, but I realize that I need to place all our students and ourselves in God’s hands. This will pass, but we don’t know when and the world will not be the same after Corona. You are all in my prayers. Please stay safe and well. May Ged bless you all.
Note: All donations should be sent via Maryknoll Sisters, Box 311, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311. Checks need to be issued in the name of “Maryknoll Sisters”, with “Emusoi Center” written on the memo line. Please include a note designating the gift for Emusoi Center, Arusha, Tanzania. You will receive an acknowledgement from Maryknoll which can be used for tax purposes. I will also send you a thank you from here. If you do not hear from me, let me know about your donation. It will take 2 months or so for me to get news of your donation. You can also contribute electronically. Check out the “donate” page on our website. If any of you would like to receive this newsletter by email, just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Thank you.
EMAIL ADDRESSES: If any of you would like to receive this newsletter by email, please send me your address. The cost of postage to the USA is very expensive! Actually, at this time of Corona, the post office in tanzania is closed and no mail is coming in or gong out! I had to enlist the help of my sister and a friend who are in New Jersey to mail this letter to you!