Newsletter 2014

The year is coming to an end and much has happened over the past 12 months: ranging from Mdawi kids being able to go to school, students doing their thesis with the foundation, Mirna’s family visiting Mdawi, computer and mosquito net donations, and a wonderful new video about our foundation!

A Journey To Remember…

With this Newsletter we would like to update all our sponsors about our activities in 2014. The year is coming to an end and much has happened over the past 12 months: ranging from Mdawi kids being able to go to school, students doing their thesis with the foundation, Mirna’s family visiting Mdawi (photo above), computer and mosquito net donations, and a wonderful new video about our foundation!

To start with an update about the board: Mirna Robert-Du Ry van Beest Holle (founder) and Reinier Dorrepaal (treasurer) in The Netherlands are still working hard to support the children of the Kilimanjaro region and will continue to do so from 2015. Unfortunately, the board had to say goodbye to Cristina Valencia who has taken on another task, as "Ebola fighter" in Western-Africa: an area in the world that can really use all our support also.

Then we have all our wonderful volunteers in Mdawi village and surroundings without whom we could not do this work. Many thanks to Allen and Agatha Lekey, Ben and Marion Sumari-de Boer and many many others!

Enjoy reading this Newsletter and the kids in Mdawi would like to thank you for your continued support in 2015!

**** Merry Christmas ****

ECONOCOM donation

In early December 2013, we reached out to the International School of Amsterdam to request computer donations. They put us in touch with ECONOCOM who agreed to donate two Mac desktops, one PC and a laptop.

The computers will be taken to Mdawi in December 2014, two of them (MAC desktops) will be installed in the Neema Learning center, the laptop will be given to the doctor and nurse in the dispensary. We are still trying to find the best setting for the PC.

The computers will serve as education and awareness instruments to educate both students (at the learning center), medical staff and patients (at the dispensary). We are also investigating whether or not there will be a possibility to host a platform for data storage on the laptop. This marks a major milestone in our objective to bring education to Mdawi children.

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the ECONOCOM team for their contributions!

Start of a new academic year: school fees 2015

The Christmas holidays mark the end of the 2014 school year. In January 2015, the students will go to the next academic year and eagerly await all your donations again! With the € 50 for primary and € 280 for secondary school, we can make sure the kids (now more than 60 in total) receive their school uniforms, shoes, socks, books, math sets, etc.

Also, the school fees ensure that they will always have lunch on school days consisting of maize and beans.

We will try to send you photos of the children in the months to come. Thank you so much on behalf of the children on Mount Kilimanjaro!

Student Assessment of Foundation Activities

As part of our project plan for 2014, our foundation wanted to get better insight into two topics: maternal, new-born and child health (MNCH), and HIV in the Kilimanjaro region. Two students from Maastricht University explored the situation in Mdawi.

For MNCH, the evaluation found that the comprehensive MNCH services have, been in fact implemented in Mdawi. The implementation of these services were found to have improved the access to maternal health services of the women of Mdawi, as women are now able to access services. However, the National Strategic Road Map has not been fully implemented yet.

Another important focal area for us (and part of our mission statement) is HIV awareness and treatment in Mdawi.

So the other focus was on voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) sites.

The evaluation found that stigma attitude towards HIV in Mdawi is controversial. Whilst most community members express no fear or experiences of stigma, others expressed explicit fears of discrimination and negative consequences. A VCT site is available at the Mdawi dispensary which most but not all community members are aware of. The VCT site offers pre-counselling, testing, and post-counselling. HIV treatment or any other HIV related services are not available in Mdawi but have to be accessed in Moshi town.

For those interested in reading these interesting theses, please contact us.

The foundation would like to students for their perseverance and wonderful theses!

Mirna & family visit Mdawi

In January 2014, Mirna, Peter and their twin boys Nicholas and Alexander visited Tanzania for two weeks. A journey never to forget!

Preparations started months in advance with, unfortunately for the boys, some less pleasant precautions: the vaccinations to protect them from some threats such as yellow fever, hepatitis A/B, typhoid fever, rabies. With every shot (7) we told them stories about Africa, so by the time we left they were very prepared and excited to meet all the kids in Mdawi.

We had some concerns about how that would work out: what happens with sending two active white boys straight into the bush and would the kids accept each other? Our worries turned out unnecessary. After 5 minutes they were integrated into Lekey’s family and by the end of the first day, I couldn’t tell who was who, as the African soil had turned them into the same colour as the other kids… ?

After spending some time in the Guest House, acclimatizing to the hot climate (coming straight from freezing temperatures in Europe), we organized a bus trip. Mirna has done that before and also this one turned out a huge success. We went on a "safari", the Swahili word for "journey" and we did not go alone. Thirty kids, Lekey and family, and us!

Where our boys had the luxury of having been on safari’s before (in South Africa), for some of the Mdawi kids this was their first in many ways: first time on such a big bus, first time out of Mdawi and off the mountain, first time seeing Masai people, first time in a National Park and then their first sight of the wild animals…. Words cannot describe.

We were lucky that day seeing antelopes, zebra, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and so many more. After a nice lunch in one of the picnic areas in the park, more safari in the afternoon, and then we had to say goodbye to the group. We stayed behind in the camp and the bus took all the kids back to Mdawi.

Our trip continued with sleeping in tents while there were lions in the camp, magnificent views over Ngorongoro crater, helping out with flat tires along the way (well,our fantastic guide Ben did, to be honest), playing with huge turtles by the pool, … and so much more. After 5 days we came back to Mdawi and spent some final days near Lekey and kids.

During the stay Lekey and I had good discussions about the foundation and we organized everything around the school projects and all our other ongoing activities.

The four of us can honestly recommend this "journey to remember" to all.

Please check out Ben and Marion’s Caracal Tours & Safaris and book your trip!

Thank you to our Sponsors

Asante Sana (Thank you!)

On behalf of our board and the kids of Mdawi we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you who made a small or big donation to our foundation.

You enable us to do our work in Mdawi!

Guest House

Our Guest House has now hosted over six different groups of people (volunteers, doctors, core members of the board). Hidden amongst banana plantation, our Guest House has offered all its visitors a comfortable stay and has allowed them to interact directly with the children in the compound. The fees paid by the guests ($10-20 pppn) have been used to help buy provisions and food for the children.

We look forward to receiving any questions and requests via: childrenofkilimanjaro@gmail.com or mirnarobert@gmail.com.

Children of Kilimanjaro Video

In February 2014, Katrina Struthers and her partner from Kola Nut Productions travelled to Mdawi and stayed at our Guest House for one week. They had the opportunity to interact with Lekey and all of the children. They also had the chance to visit some of the schools, the dispensary and the learning center.

Katrina and the Kola Nut Productions team shot a 3-minute educational video about our foundation; what we do, who we are and what we aim to bring to Mdawi.

We would like to thank Katrina and her whole Kola Nut Productions team for the wonderful outcome.

Other projects

As part of our continuous efforts to bring health insurance coverage to the children of Mdawi, we have initiated talks with PharmAccess in order to use their current health insurance program (which at the moment only covers coffee farmers). In 2014, PharmAccess will be expanding their private health insurance scheme into a public scheme (subsidized by the local government) that will cover most of the regions in Tanzania. Such scheme will allow the foundation to seek health insurance coverage for the schools that our children attend.

Local authorities as well as PharmAccess representatives are currently revising the new health insurance scheme and expect to have a final version ready by October 2014. Under this new scheme, the government will subsidize 50% of the health insurance premium leaving the other 50% to be covered by the individual (child).

The Children of Kilimanjaro Foundation is exploring how we can provide the kids in Mdawi of this health insurance.