We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 15 June 2015

What's Cookin' in the UK?

For those of you in the UK, don't forget that we'd love to see you this Saturday! Starting at 5pm, you are welcome to the Sarum Hill Centre in Basingstoke for tea and cake. We want to thank those of you who are supporting us in different ways and also invite anyone who is interested to find out more about what we are doing in Tanzania.

As well as time to visit and chat, we will take some time to share some stories, speaking about the work we are doing. Amisadai and Louisa will also share a bit and have a "Watoto" (kids) table with some short videos and colouring/activities.

Karibuni Sana! (You are very welcome!)

A collage of our varied life and work in Tanzania!
It is hard to believe that we are over halfway through our time here in the UK. It has been good to catch up with many of you... although not so many as we would like! It has been very good to be with family, particularly time together with Tim's parents and brother and family on the Isle of Wight. While good to be together, it was a very rough time health-wise for Tim's Dad. But he has thankfully improved a lot since then, as his blood count climbs and his strength returns. We have also enjoyed being back with Tadley Community Church and the girls have loved being part of Aldermaston Primary School again. We have all enjoyed the great variety of food; the chilly weather less so!
Cousins enjoy being together at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight
Girls speaking in North Community Church
We have been able to speak in both Tadley and North Community Church, Basingstoke; we've taken some classes and assemblies at the school, celebrated International Albinism Day, and the girls and I are planning a Sunday School for this Sunday. We've shared some lovely meals and chats with people. We've even made maandazi (Tanzanian donuts) a couple of times, although after the first deep fry session in the kitchen, I was consequently banished to the garage for future cooking!
Banished to cook in the garage!

Mini Maandazi for Year 4 and North Church!
We've booked in all those appointments for doctors, optometrists, dentists, travel nurses etc... and have a shopping list to work on. Amisadai is taking advantage of being reunited with her violin teacher again, and both girls are enjoying the local library. Tim and I are making the most of the time here to do some research into project work and reading up on relevant material. So fitting all this in between the school runs (which takes almost 2 hours each day!) and talk and slideshow preparations doesn't exactly make it a holiday, but with the odd coffee out it is definitely a change from our rather different Tanzanian life!

The differences in the two lives sometimes seem rather silently stark. And how that works out in daily life and even conversation is not always easy! Sometimes I feel I can't even begin to enter a conversation; it feels like points of contact and context have been blown away. I still haven't been able to walk into a clothes shop in the UK. How weird is that? I have been able to do the supermarket, but I wander about illogically and it takes me three times longer than it should. Am I strange or do I just feel strange? My priorities are different and it's strange being back to where I was, when they are not where they were. Time and money. Concepts of which are forever affected.

I better stop here, before Tim accuses me once again of "over-analysing" and you all think me rather abnormal. Inner turmoil aside, it is good to be back for while!

Ice Cream Treats in the New Forest! Whippy flakes with toppings!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

International Albinism Awareness Day

June 13th is International Albinism Awareness Day! And we are going to celebrate with HATS!

If you have been reading our blog, you are no doubt already aware of albinism and the problems that people with albinism are facing in Tanzania at the moment. But so many are not aware. Our love and concern for people with albinism, particularly those in the Mwanza region makes it impossible for us to let this day to pass by unnoticed or unmarked!

Limi (30), a woman with albinism and mother of four from Katavi, is the most recent victim of attack in Tanzania. She survived the attack just over 2 weeks ago, but her right hand was cut off and taken for witchcraft potions. A few months earlier, one-year old Yohanna Bahati was killed when attackers hacked off both of his arms and legs. His mother, Ester, was seriously injured and left unconscious as she tried to save her son.

But it is not only the mutilations and murder. The sun also kills. It has been reported only 2% of people with albinism live until they are 40 because of skin cancer. They need to be wearing protective sun hats and sunscreen and have access to education and treatment in cancer clinics.

We are all different. Different heights, sizes, shapes, colours, and abilities, both physical and intellectual...  But yet we are all created and loved by God. We all in some way bear His image. We are all uniquely different and yet equally special.

June 13th has been officially set aside by the UN as a day to celebrate people with albinism. Recognize them, remember them, honour them and value them. We have the opportunity to stand in support of them and be a voice that sends out a message of love over the noise of murder and discrimination.

We are going to make and wear fun hats. People with albinism should be wearing hats to protect themselves from the sun. Unfortunately, many don't have hats and even then, those that do, don't like to wear them as it makes them feel even more "different." Celebrating their lives (with hats!) on this day is just a very simple way of standing with them in support... their lives matter!

Now I know that a group of people wearing crazy hats will not solve the problems of albinism. I wish it were that simple. But I encourage you to mark this day. Pray for these people. Share their story. Support them in ways that you can.

It is strange feeling so far away here in the UK. I feel like I read the news and stories as one far away and sadly detached. But yet I know and think of Penina, Rose, Monika, Saidaiti, Laurensia and other mamas in Tanzania who bear the pain and fear involved in albinism. I think of the children at Lake View School. I think of the families of those murdered, of those struggling in the aftermath of attack. And I pray for change.

I don't know how or when things will change. It is complicated and there is no easy answer. Here in the UK it is easy to think everyone can help... send a donation, send a hat, send suncream, or sign a petition to the government. But it really isn't that simple. Beliefs run deep in hearts; hearts are hard to change. But we pray for change and we help where we can.

I know we have friends all over the place who share our love and concern for people with albinism, so celebrate their life and pray for them with us! Put on your hats!

As well as planning a Crazy Hat Day and special assembly at Aldermaston Primary School, Amisadai and Louisa are hoping to collect some crazy hat photos on their blog (coming soon!) so please do share (by email or on our albinism day Facebook page) a photo of your crazy hat or silly sunglasses! Spread the word!

Here is a short slideshow of some of what we see and do in Tanzania...

Colour of Skin: Albinism from Rachel Monger on Vimeo.

On another note, my apologies for the lack of communication recently on the blog. I'm afraid I rather lost the routine, but hope to pull things together again soon! We are still in the UK, staying with Tim's parents and would appreciate your continued prayers for Tim's Dad. The past few weeks have been the hardest and lowest for him and is particularly struggling with very low blood counts and radio burns to his left eye. Thanks!