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

Saturday, 16 July 2016

A Place to Be

There seems so much to blog at the moment, I feel I am falling far behind! But knocking chronology out of the way, I will just write the exciting news! ...
The Upendo wa Mama group has a place to meet! I feel I should type this in large bold font or capital letters or something! It is something we have waited and prayed a long time for! The mamas are thrilled they are going to be able to use rooms on the Mwanza premises of Standing Voice, an organization working to help people with albinism. Standing Voice does a fantastic work here in Mwanza for people with albinism - particularly with advocacy, and health (skin cancer prevention and vision). And they are surely helping these women and their children with albinism! We are so thankful!

Having a safe and permanent place to meet and work (and store things!) will be a huge step forward for the group. As well as having the opportunity to work much more, we are looking forward to purchasing an oven and sewing machine to increase work opportunities. Also with a space to meet, I am hoping there will be the possibility for more teaching and training, particularly in literacy. Today, I was so moved when one of the Mamas, who had previously not wanted a Bible, asked for one now. She said she wanted to learn how to read.
Busy sewing cards and making soap
The women have been really busy making all kinds of products to sell! The soaps made a couple of months ago are finally ready to use! So we have sampled some to test, and pleased with the results have packaged the rest to sell! It is so encouraging to see the fruit of all their labours!
Handmade soaps
Candles setting in their PVC pipe moulds
We have also just started a new little sewing project together. We are working on making washable, re-useable menstrual pads! At the moment we are just trialing some designs to see what works best, but hoping that we can produce more to sell. The women are really excited about these pads, and when I asked what they are called in Swahili, the answer with a giggle was "Always!" Also later, hopefully we can use these pads to help and educate young girls who are missing weeks of school due to their periods. It is a far bigger problem than you may imagine, and the solution is not straight-forward ... but more on this in another blog post!

Meanwhile the Mamas in Malya...

Tim and I went this week to Malya and while there, I met again with the women's group. Elizabeti, Rachel, Tabitha and Agnus were there (would you believe, there was another funeral that day and so two of these women were very late and the other three didn't make it at all.) They are lovely ladies and it feels like relationship is growing as we work together and pray for one another. I came home this time laden with bags of rice from each of them! How kind and generous they are! It is just difficult being so far away from them, and only getting there once a month, but slowly things are moving forward.

They are working towards getting their own bank account, but you would not believe how long and drawn out and complicated this is ... sucking their valuable earnings in transport alone as the bank is about 25km away. Patience and perseverance. And that they have. We have had our share of failures; they showed me rock hard lip balms that used about 100x too much wax when they just forgot to measure! And this week, in our attempt at milk and honey soap in the hot, unrefrigerated conditions of the village, we were taken aback at a bubbly explosion of hot honey which resulted in a rather volcanic looking caramelized ("burnt") honey soap!

But the person who never made a mistake, never made anything, and so we persevere!
"Caramalized Honey Soap"
Neem Cream
Malya mamas making balms and soaps
(See the beekeepers working on the hive in the background? They were pretty interested!

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