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 ParĂ© 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.