The little guy pictured above (bottom left) had us in stiches with his toddler-style antics, he seemed determined to 'entertain' his guest with giggles, chatter and general silliness as only a two year old can.


I wanted to write a bit more about our visits around the community of Bukoba and the dedication of Thadeus in making a difference in the lives of local children. After reading this, please be sure to check out the related photo's on my Flickr. 

While we were in Bukoba, we were fortunate to meet many people in the community, thanks to the President and founder of the Gerladina Orphanage & Education Centre (GOEC), Thadeus Mutarubukwa. We had the opportunity to meet with community leaders, to visit the site of the new permanent Centre several times (including witnessing the laying of the foundation) and to visit local schools where the children from both the orphanage and the 'Neighborhood Children' program attend through the support of GOEC. In addition, we had the opportunity to visit families in and around Bukoba, many of whom are either directly or indirectly affected in a positive way by the work of GOEC and Thadeus himself, who dedicates the time he has outside of his full-time teaching position and his work at the orphanage to check in with vulnerable families and children. Through these visits we got to know Thadeus better as a friend, came to greatly respect him as a brother and began to see the depth of his passion for his work towards positive change in his community. We had full confidence in Thadeus as he drove us on the roads throughout the area – sometimes paved in town but more often quite bumpy and radiant shades of red, eventually trailing off into jungle-like banana plants and coffee trees clustered close on each side of us. As the road disappeared into faint tracks and then eventually dissolved into what I can only describe as 'jungle', even with a breathtaking but terrifying precipice over the edge, Thadeus proved to be one of the best drivers I have ever known and we soon begain trusting him fully. We only got stuck once, to which he seemed very surprised (I don’t think this happens to a skilled driver such as himself very often) and it was truly a miracle that he got us out given the difficult and overgrown terrain we were forging through. Not only does he know the communities we visited well geographically, he also has an in depth understanding of them as well (and they know and trust him). He has a good grasp of the local needs, the families who are most vulnerable, and the children most at risk of losing their education. What made the biggest impression on us was his genuine concern for the well-being, health and future of the people, and his determination and dedication to help them to the best of his ability. His empathy was evident in the time and patience he exercised in going out of his way for a fellow brother or sister. This man sacrifices much for the sake of his community, and I believe he is making a difference in lives today as well as those of future generations! Such an inspiration in today’s world, and it fueled my passion for positive change in Africa. It was a privilege getting to know Thadeus, his wonderful wife Ana and son Fred, as well as the housemother of the orphanage, Eugenia (I will write more about this great lady in a later post),  and it was a pleasure spending time with them in Bukoba. They are like extended family to us and our Christian brothers and sisters,, and after returning to Canada we hope to see them again someday! In the meantime, it’s an honor to work with Thadeus and our team of board members, volunteers and international supporters in the goal of ‘Brightening the Future’ of orphaned and vulnerable children in Tanzania!

Some of the 'smoother' roads we travelled on. No matter what the terrain, Thadeus handled the voyage like a pro!


We met a little girl named Alysa (pictured below) and the family she was staying with for the first time while out on our rural community visits. Due to the circumstance in which this kind-hearted family was struggling with, it was difficult for them to provide for all of their children's needs as well as three additional children they were trying to care for - one of them appearing quite ill. All were in agreement that it was best to find sponsors for these three children as soon as possible so that they could move into the Gerladina Orphanage. Derek & I knew from the moment we met her that we wanted to help somehow, and unanimously decided to sponsor her before we even said goodbye. We are happy to hear she is now settling into the Centre as part of the Gerladina family!
 

Meeting Alysa, the child we now sponsor through GOEC

Two of the other children, Jonas & Mushobozi (both orphans) who were staying with this family have also moved to the Orphanage as well. Mushobozi (in the hot pink coat, last photo) was quite ill at the time this picture was taken, but we’ve recently received an update that his health is improving steadily. We’ve also recieved news that the overall health of the three children continues to improve with a significant increase in protein and other nutrients to their diet. They are now registered in school and adjusting well to their new Gerladina family.


Alysa and her ‘foster’ family in front of their small home, before she moved to Gerladina.



Mushobozi, pictured here with Thadeus, was not well at the time of our visit but his health is improving under the care of Eugenia (the GOEC housemother) at the orphanage.

There are still children in the GOEC Neighborhood program who need sponsors. For more information on how you can help please visit: http://www.gerladina.com/the-neighborhood-children

You can view more photo's from our community visits in and around Bukoba on my Flickr page
!