Monday, April 30, 2012

An Update On Our Work To Date by Maureen Mescall

Tanzanian Village Renewal

A little background to the charity and our work to date.

 Maureen Mescall and John Clancy with a few of the locals in Tanzania.The founders of the charity; Michael and Maureen Mescall from Kilmihil, Co Clare first travelled to Tanzania in 1999 on holiday and at the end of the trip, they stayed for a few days with Dr Margaret Hogan from Killimer, Co Clare, who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Dar es Salaam for over 35 years. Margaret is also a member of the Medical Missionaries of Mary.

The Mescalls were very impressed by the work being carried out by Margaret and her colleagues. Maureen returned to Dar es Salaam as a volunteer for a month or five weeks for the next four summers and taught the staff of the main hospital Muhimbili how to use computers. This resulted in the hospital becoming computerised.  This was a wonderful experience and Maureen loved every minute of her time in Dar es Salaam.

While volunteering there, Maureen was asked if she would be in a position to find funding and men to carry out some work in Vikrouti, which is a psychiatric village/farm outside Dar es Salaam where patients from Muhimbili go to recuperate and integrate into society following their treatment. Michael and Maureen set about sourcing funds here in Ireland and set up the registered charity Tanzanian Village Renewal.

Following hard work from the couple, their friends and relatives and the support of people from counties all over Ireland, but particularly Clare, monies were raised and fifteen plumbers and electricians were sourced who were prepared to travel to Tanzania, which they did in March 2008.

They wired all the houses, offices, outbuildings and workshops in Vikrouti, sank a well and repaired the existing well, which was not working.  The work has resulted in the patients having light in their houses, toilet and shower facilities, access to television and radio, as well as being able to grow their own vegetables once they had a good supply of water.   The charity also purchased 1,500 chickens for the farm so that they have eggs and chicken for the patients and they are in a position to sell the surplus to the hospital in Muhimbili.  The men wired a primary school in a village called Rombo and supplied the children with a computer and printer, copies and pens.  All the wiring and plumbing material was sourced in Tanzania, while local men were trained to carry out repairs following the departure of the Irish men.

John Clancy from Corofin and Maureen travelled to a village called Suji, which is in the Paré mountains and close to Kilimanjaro, in November 2009. They met with the board of management, who asked if Tanzanian Village Renewal would be in a position to add an extension to the school in the village.  The school has 450 pupils and at the moment has two teachers.  Five graduates from NUI Galway agreed to volunteer to teach there for at least one year. The people of Suji were absolutely delighted at this, did everything in their power to make their year in Suji a memorable one. 

The board of the charity agreed to carry out the work and set about looking for 15 builders to commit to two weeks in Suji starting from October 31st 2010.  John Clancy, Clare,  Noel Murphy, Galway, Sean Murphy, Bermingham, Gerard Heverin, Castlebar, Niall Culkin, Sligo, Enda Gilmartin, Sligo, Peadar Mitchell and Darren Maguire, Leitrim  were the builders. The extension was built from bricks, which were made by the children from the school.   Again, all material were sourced in Tanzania.

The dining room/assembly room was built with the help of eleven builders and five teachers.  Why teachers you ask?   Well Aisling Mitchell, Belinda Crossan, Aine Staunton, Aaron Cunningham and Jim Lovett decided to go to Suji for a year to teach in the school and were as good as any qualified builders.   They enjoyed their year teaching and to the great delight of all, one of the student got a scholarship to a attend another Government school where he could study for form five and six thus enabling him to attend university where he wants to study medicine.
The dining / assembly room was built by the Irish in just twelve days and funding was left to the village so that the building could be completed.   In August 2012 four pallets of books, pens and copies were dispatched to the school and a library was set up so now pupils have access to books and writing material for the first time.  These books and pens were collected all over the West of Ireland and were sourced by the builders, the builders families and the teachers families. 
Aaron Cunningham has returned to the school for the 2012 academic year and has just completed the renovation of one of the classrooms and is just about to start on another one (May 2012).  Aaron has settled into Tanzanian life very well and is rearing chickens, walking the beautiful hills and teaching mathematics.
Peadar Mitchell, first went to Tanzania as one of the builders but brought his camera with him and made a film of the building, the teachers and the life of the community in Suji -  Hands on Tanzania.  Peadar is now returning to Suji to teach English for the remainder of the Academic year.
Next project is to collect more used school books and send them to other schools in the area.     If you could organise the collection of Primary and Secondary School schoold books in your area it would be a great help.  Please email me if you would like to help –    All the above projects were and are being funded by Tanzanian Village Renewal.  
Please go to our Blogs to see pictures of all the builders and teachers and to read about the current happening in Suji.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Would you like to Teach in Tanzania for a year?

By Maureen MescallThe five graduates of NUI Galway who have been teaching in Suji Malindi Secondary School, Tanzania for the past twelve months have just returned home after a very successful time in the school   They enjoyed their time and have made a great difference to the standard of education.   The school had four hundred and fifty pupils and just two teachers prior to the Irish teachers arrival.  The Irishs taught a variey of subjects as well as teaching English to the pupils in the local Primary School and to the people of the village.  They also made many trips to Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar as well as visiting the Safari Parks in Tanzania.

                                                              A view from the village

Tanzanian Village Renewal are currently looking for graduates ( with a Degree, Masters or Phd) or qualified teachers who would be willing to spend one year starting in Mid January 2012 at Suji Malindi Secondary School.  We would like people who can teach a variety of subjects but particularly Mathematics and the Science Subjects.   There is a house on site available free of charge to the teachers, food is local and very reasonable, the scenery is wonderful and is particularly great for people who like the outdoor life and hill walking.   Tanzanian Village Renewal will pay 450 Euro per month to each teacher and this amount is more than adequate to have a very good lifestyle in Tanzania.

If you are interested please email me Maureen Mescall at either or

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Please Read This Post

The people who live in Suji are lifestyle rich but cash poor.  As we have said in previous posts on the blog, Suji is one of the most beautiful places one would ever wish to visit.   The people have small houses on small plots on which they grow vegetables, have a banana tree and if they are lucky may have a cow but only a few families have cows.     Family members who have been lucky enough to receive an education and get a job support their extended family back in Suji.

Suji is strictly a rural community and there is no industry.   Some of the men find work in the tourism industry in the nearest town; Moshi which is over two hours away by mini bus.   Those who work in Moshi stay there or otherwise they would leave Suji at 6a.m. and the mini bus ( the only transport out for the day) takes them on a one hour journey down the mountain on a very steep, un-surfaced road to Sammé where it is then necessary to take another bus to Moshi.  Nobody owns a car in Suji and a couple of people have motor bikes.

The children in Suji Malindi Secondary School leave early on Fridays and climb further up the mountain to the forest where they cut timber, carry it back to the village and that in turn is used for cooking.  We in the west frown on such a practice as we know the damage this is doing to the environment.   While there is electricity in the village it can be off for days and just last week there was no electricity for five days.   For those families who have electricity it is just for lighting purposes and cooking by electricity is almost non existent.

The five Irish teachers are teaching English to adults and small children from the community, teaching a variety of subjects in the school and are endeavouring to set up a library, find computers so that they can teach the use of same to the children.  Due to the fact that the five Irish teachers are so committed to the community many pupils who had left the school have returned, vastly increased numbers of first years have enrolled  and for the first time there is now a fourth form in the school as prior to this pupils just left education.  

So we are endeavouring to do the following:

  • Pay partial school fees for those pupils who can not afford same.

  • Pay for 90% of school uniforms for those who can not afford same.

  • Set up a loan scheme for the curriculum books in the school.  We hope to purchase a complete set of books for each subject, for each form, rent them out to the pupils at a nominal fee for the year, they would return them at the end of the year and the process would be repeated.

  • Set up a library with a variety of school books and novels which can be used by both the children and the community.  All unused school books except Irish language, the classics and other suitable novels.

  • Set up computer literacy classes.

Would you like to Help?

If you have old school books that are no longer in use we would take them and send them to Suji.   We already have many books which were collected by the teachers prior to leaving for Tanzania but we would take more.  If you have any books please contact me at and I will arrange collection or a suitable drop off venue.   We intend to send these items as well as computers at the end of February.
The transport of such items is very expensive.

Would you like to sponsor, a pupils school fees, or a uniform?

Would you like to sponsor the book lending scheme within the school?

If you would like to help in this area by either a once off contribution or a Direct Debit you can lodge to our registered charity account:

Tanzanian Village Renewal   CHY 17968
Ulster Bank,

Newcastle Road,
A/C No  10095595
Sort Code  9857 53

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pics from Suji

Arriving in Moshi

Children Helping

Noel inspecting

Niall Posing

Tom and Enda Busy?

Noe, Charlie and Ger Making the trusses

Yes Darren and Peadar were there!

Tom and Enda worn out!!!

Ger and Aisling measuring Aine?

Rahema Cooking

Day Off!

John Contemplating will I ? wont I ?

Amos, John and Sean holding up!

Sean Plastering with assistants Aisling and Aaron

Belinda getting the African Look.

See No Drink!
Wii we all jump together?

Tom's Designs

Noel with nail!

The presentation!

The Black and the White of the job!

On Safari

Still on Safari!

Our latest Work in Suji, Tanzania

We show pictures and videos on this Blog of a lot of building work being carried out so we would just like to give you the background to this.   TANZANIAN VILLAGE  RENEWAL is a registered charity founded in 2007 by Michael and Maureen Mescall from Kilmihil, Co. Clare.  The couple had been visiting Tanzania for many years and have very good friends there.   One of those friends; Professor Gad Kilonzo asked if we would be in a position to build an extension to the secondary school in his native village Suji and also if we could scource teachers in Ireland for the school.  The school had 450 pupils and only 2 teachers.

We decided that it would be best to see the school and the proposed extension so a friend of ours, John Clancy from Corofin, Co. Clare and I went to Suji in November 2009.  We were struck by the beauty of Suji and the surrounding Paré Mountains; by the quality of the natural food all grown locally; the welcome of the people and pupils and by the courtesy shown to us.  Suji is situated about 8000 ft. high in the mountains and the only access is a dirt track which is very steep and in wet weather is treacherous.   That apart the journey to the village has the most spectacular scenery.   The foundation for the new extension had commenced but was not complete so John suggested that the villagers should complete the foundation work and that we would then consider building.   The people living in the village have a wonderful quality of life in a clean, unpolluted environment but they are cash poor. All materials had to be hauled up that mountain by lorry and this was expensive so the charity Tanzanian Village Renewal sent some funds to cover the materials and labour for the foundation.   This was duly completed and photographic evidence sent to us .   So the villagers had upheld their end of the bargain now it was up to us to fulfill our end.

We had to find builders and teachers! 

Ah I thought it will be easy to find the teachers where I work, in NUI Galway but how to go about it.  Next step was to approach Professor Jim Ward , the Registrar in NUI Galway and Lorraine McIllrath from Community Knowledge Initiative in the university.  Both of these people were very supportive of the idea of  university involvement with the project.   We emailed all postgraduate students and received many replies but we finally found 5 people who were really interested.  Those students were:

Aisling Mitchell,         Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim.
Belinda Crossan,       Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
Aine Staunton,          Tourmakeady, Co. Mayo.
Aaron Cunningham,   Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
James Lovett,            Newcastle, Galway.

The students agreed to fund their travelling and day to day expenses in the short term and the university and Tanzanian Village Renewal agreed to pay them a small salary during the year in Tanzania.  The students also decided that the would like to do a bit of building and therefore agreed to travel with the builders, get to know the lie of the land in Suji and at least settle in to a new lifestyle in the company of a few "from home".

Then to find the builders.  One would expect that in these recessionary times it would be easy to find builders but this proved to be a very difficult job and took a lot of time and effort to find the right people.  Even though there are thousands of builders, carpenters, electrician and plumbers out of work in Ireland as we all know, people were afraid to commit.  Everybody who would come would have to pay airfare, accommodation and for food so this was a scary commitment when one had no job.   We took to the airwaves and the printed media.  We carried out interviews on Clare FM, Mid West Radio and Weeshie Fogarty of Kerry Radio gave us an hour to talk about the work of the charity.   We eventually sourced enough people and set the date for travelling as October 31st. 2010 for a two week period.

Those travelling would be:

John Clancy,          Corofin, Co. Clare.
Maureen Mescall,  Kilmihil, Co. Clare.
Noel Murphy,        Ballymacward, Co. Galway.
Sean Murphy,        Bermingham,  U.K.
Niall Culkin,           Co. Sligo.
Enda Gilmartin,      Co. Sligo.
Ger Heverin,          Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
Tom Philbin,          Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
Darren Maguire,    Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim.
Peadar Mitchell,     Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim.
and the 5 teachers mentioned above.

We flew from Dublin to Kilimanjaro and were met by Professor Kilonzo and a mini bus to take us to Suji.   Then the fun began!  Aaron and Belinda had the kitchen sink in their bags as they were staying for a year!  The builders travelled with small bags which were rather heavy due to the hammers, saws, trowels and levels.
How to get all the people, the luggage and a few more people into the mini bus.  It took planning and ingenuity!   John in charge of course!  Even though everybody was tired, they were good humoured and of course the idea that all of us would be allowed to travel in such an overcrowded bus was very new to people from Ireland who are used to rules and regulations.   The trip on the dirt road to Suji caused some consternation as we thought the bus would not make each hill - but it did and the driver got a resounding cheer, more from relief at the arrival rather than his driving I think!

The schoolchildren were out on top of a hill waving and cheering and they then put on a marvellous concert for us.  The sang and danced with that wonderful sense of rhythm that the Africans have.  We were welcomed by the villagers and then fed very well.   The teachers stayed in one house, the 5 younger people in another house and the older more "set in their ways" people in another; all accommodation provided by the villagers.

This was the first time in Africa for most people so the "Asian Toilet" caused a bit of shock initially!   Once the site was inspected, John set out the work schedule.   We would get up at 6a.m., breakfast at 6.30a.m., on site at 7 a.m., lunch at noon, finish at 5.30 p.m. shower, and dinner at 7p.m.,

Rahema would cook for us.  She started each day at around 5a.m., got the fire going ( mostly scraps of timber and bits of trees), and did not finish until nearly 8.30p.m each night.  She was a treasure, good humoured, good cook and practised her English with us each day.  If we wanted something Rahema knew who to contact, she produced potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner - The Irish need their spuds!!!!   Not that many Rahema!

Not to go into too many details of the building but we built, roofed and plastered the building in 12 days!   Everybody worked to the best of their ability every day.   The 3 girl teachers, laid bricks, plastered, carried, fetched and were given a genuine "clap on the back" by the builders.   10 local men helped and we trained them in building, plastering and roofing and the Irish left them all their tools before they departed.  The building was 100 m X 30 m so it was a great achievement to finish it in the short period of time.   Multiple **** to everybody!!

The population of Suji are mostly 7 Day Adventist so Saturday is their holy day so no work.   They get ready for the holy day early Friday evening and Saturday is then spent at church.  We were invited to their services and this was a wonderful experience.   Imagine hearing the echo of choirs rebounding from the hills all around as you walked to one of the churches.  If one heard any of these choirs in the National Concert Hall in Dublin one would say they were brilliant.   All ages had that wonderful musical quality which seems to be in every part of their beings.  We loved their services and looked forward to each Saturday.   We also walked the hills and just spent time enjoying the peace and tranquility and appreciate many things that we had experienced in our youth but had forgotten during the mad Celtic Tiger days in Ireland.

After dinner we had the entertainment.   Peadar, gave a dissertation on Marx, Ger's topic was religion, John did the magic tricks, Noel and Sean supervised the quizzes, Enda updated us on the soccer, Jim recited poetry, Niall and Darren interjected with appropriate quips when people were waffling, Tom exuded calmness at all times even during the hottest part of the day when the sun was beating doen on his blonde curls, the girls provided the glamour, Aaron provide all technical knowledge in regard to mobile phone and Internet connections.  Me, I provided the water and a limited supply of beer!    This was a highly intellectual building site!    The teachers, gave classes in between laying bricks.   English, history, geography, maths, economics and biology.   The pupils were hungry to learn.  They helped us on the site and they tried to teach us Swahili and we tried to help with their English.   This was education with fun, style and dust in about 25 c.

Of course the villagers  had  party to send us on our way home.  In the new building of course!   A great time was had by all.

We decided that being in Tanzania the home of Safari we should at least see some animals before we took the plane.  The mini bus was engaged once again to take us to the game park and then to the airport.  Not as much luggage this time as the teachers and Peadar were staying on in Suji.  So did we see the Big 5 - most definitely no but we saw the Big 5 holes that the mini bus got stuck in!   "All out",  "Rock from side to side", "push"   "Get out the shovel" " You are standing on my hand"  "How will I get on the plane with this muck" could be heard resounding all over the game park.   Then slight panic - we wont make the flight!   Get this driver to get a move on -  driver no word of English - Irish no word of Swahili!   Sign language very useful here but not much good as the bus had no third gear and groaned on every hill.

Sean and Jim in the front seat urging the driver on who looked at them with mild disdain.  Some people falling asleep but the real sign of panic was when cool John began to get slightly panicky!   We made it.  No time for good bye just race through security.   The teachers and Peadar had to face the return journey and up that mountain road again while the builders sat in the comfort of KLM.  

Peadar is an award winning film maker and is making a film about the building, the teachers and the village.  It's a slow job editing all the footage and he has promised that the launch will be in Manorhamilton and we will all be invited!   We look forward to that!   He is staying in Suji until Christmas and is currently teaching English to the adults in the village.   Tanzanians with Leitrim accents - I cant wait to hear it.!    His sister Aisling is teaching English to small children.  Aaron is teaching and coaching the soccer team in the school.  His team were narrowly defeated by the locals recently but I am sure they will improve under Aaron's guidance.  Let us know what's happening Aaron and put up a picture of your team.   Belinda and Aine are teaching and are on  rat extermination detail as well as planning the Christmas trip to Zanzibar.   Aine loves Tuna and Mayonnaise which is not available in Suji so if the reader is so disposed you can send to Aine in care of the Post Office Suji!!!!   Jim, well Jim has taught the pupils and the builders one word in Irish, English and Swahili!!  Or is it a universal language?  Jim is currently touring around Southern Africa and will return to Suji when the school term starts in January.

That's it for now - drop a comment in the box as we would love to hear from you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tanzanian Village Renewal Directors and Bankers

Tanzanian Village Renewal is a registered charity with the Irish Revenue Commissioners.  No. CHY 17968.   The charity was formed in 2007 by Michael & Maureen Mescall from Kilmihil, Co.Clare.   The Directors of the Charity are:

Chair:              Brendan Kennelly, B.Comm., MSc Economic Science.   NUI, Galway
Secretary:       William Quinn, Knocknacarra, Galway.
Treasurer:       Maureen Mescall, B.A., M. Litt..  NUI, Galway.
                        Michael Mescall. B.E., Kilmihil, Co. Clare.
                        Dr. Margaret Hogan, PhD. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Contact Details:

Bankers:           Ulster Bank, Newcastle Road, Galway.
                        Account .No.  10095595.
                        Sort Code        98 57 53