July 2009


The inside plastering  and outside chuping  (like stucco) has been completed. Now we water the new cement for two weeks  twice a day, all floors, walls and outside.  This is a big job taking about 5 to 6  hours  a day, morning and then night.  I did the watering the first few days after our masons left.  Then I figured, why  should I be spending 6 hours a day doing this work when I have two able bodied young men whose education has been paid for by  U.S. sponsors.  So now they (Emmanual ,  a new graduate teacher waiting for his teaching assignment,  and Josephat, finished Form 6 and heading to the University in Dar in Sept. to major in law) are doing the watering.  What remains to be done is tongue and groove ceiling board (Fredy will do, doors, shutters  (Crispin is making now),  window glass and shower/toilet .   Then the administrative building (95 ft. x 30 ft.) will be complete except for furniture.

I have been to three vocational schools and four private carpenters.  I have narrowed the furniture down to the three vocational schools and two carpenters all in Njombe.  So many bunk beds (36), chairs, stools, dining room tables, benches,  bedroom tables, five single beds  and a desk are needed, so I felt spreading out the work will speed up the completion dates.

One dormitory foundation is complete and the other partially.  The reason construction has stopped is because we have used all the bricks, sand and cement.  The villagers are making 50,000 bricks and presently they have made approximately 40,000. (Note new pictures.)


After lots of thought and prayer, I gave up the idea of buying a Kubota tractor.  About two weeks ago,  I saw a huge John Deere tractor loaded on a lori parked in Njombe.  Fredy saw it first and all of a sudden I felt I needed to know about it.  Well, the story is long so I’ll cut to the chase.  After some investigation on our part, we ended up at a HUGE farm between Mafinga and Iringa.  The owner had two tractors for sale, both Massy Fergusons (parts for this brand are very available in Tz.).  The newer one was a 2001 with a covered cab but did not have 4wd , was more expensive and not as powerful.   The other one, a 1985 model with 85 h.p. ,  looked new but had been sold.   So I did my little talk about building an orphanage and needing a 4 wd tractor, and the owner of the farm said he would sell me the 1985 because the party that wanted it had not come up with the payment as yet.  I told him I could pay for it in 4 days,  but he must service it first. So on the 15th of July we wrote up the contract.  I paid him on the 20th and arranged the transporting (172 k.) of the tractor arriving in Uhekule village on the 23rd.

I wish I had had my camera when we unloaded the tractor as it was quite a job.  We had to travel around the village looking for a three foot high hill so as to back the tractor off the lori into high ground. Of course, I am having a small fit as I fear it would tip over while unloading, but Fredy did a good job of backing it off the lori.  Actually, we had about 10 villagers helping  in conflicting ways!

Later that day Fredy taught me how to drive it much to the amazement of the villagers.  The tractor has three manual gear shift sticks plus the 4wd shift..…not easy to remember which one does what!  I took it across from my house to the soccer field to practice driving it.  A huge crowd gathered.  This is a very big deal for my village…..many words of congratulations and so thrilled to think they have a village tractor. They were calling out “shukuru” (grateful) and “hongera” (congratulations) Bibi Kay.  Women in my village do not drive as we don’t have any cars. ( Very few women in Njombe town drive, but nowhere would you see a woman driving a tractor, just unheard of.)


Here is where I have a big problem with Tanzanian culture.  We had a meeting of village government in the library (that I built with your donations and free help from the villagers when I was in Peace Corps).

Now I received a formally written invite to this meeting that was suppose to begin at 9:00a.m. last Saturday.  I arrived at 9:05 and saw 15 signatures that they were there early (unheard of in Tz.) but left to have breakfast.  So, I wait until 10:30 when they all returned.  By then I am steaming because I wanted to drive to Njombe for business reasons,  and they are wasting my time.  (I frequently remind them that in America “time is money”.  They just laugh at me. )

I asked the village chairman, Huruma, to please discuss my agenda first.  He obliged, so we discussed the brick making, the doors and shutters and the tractor.  I am sitting up front next to the chairman and I explained  that Fredy,  I and one other person in the village will be the drivers of the tractor.  Huruma tells the group  that Fredy and one other person will be the drivers.  This is when I remind him to tell everyone that I am also a driver…very hard for Tanzanians to accept a woman driver.  So this Wed., I explained to the group,  there will be a driving test and the best driver will get the job.  I also reminded them, again, that I AM THE BOSS!  So, DO NOT make any decisions about the building of the orphanage without consulting me first.  They hate having a woman in charge, but I remind them that I have the MONEY; therefore, they must consult me first before ordering supplies or making decisions. We have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.


This is my fourth winter in Tanzania and by far the coldest.  Mornings may be around 35 to 40 degrees F. with winds.  Most days the sun comes out by 10 a.m. and warms up our hands and feet, but lately we have had days with little sun…..very uncomfortable.  The villagers are poor and do not always have warm clothes.  The primary students are not allowed to wear jackets over their school uniform sweaters, so many of them are sick with colds. June and July  have been very cold.  We have just August left and then warm weather.  Actually, October is the warmest month.


Because this is winter time, we have no rain for about 5 or 6 months, but lots of wind and dust.  All the trees, bushes and ground cover have turned brown with dust.  When we think we can’t stand another day of “ vumbi” (dust), the rains come end of November and everything gets washed and returns to green again.

I realize I am not a very good writer, but I will try to tell you how very grateful the villagers are to see a tractor living in their homeland.  It is a true source of pride for them.  Please keep in mind the only tool they use for planting, cultivating and harvesting is a “jembe” (like a hoe). …very primitive by our standards.  So  when you garden with a rototiller or farm with a plow, remember how easy you have it.  I feel that is why the average life expectancy  is  50 years here  because if AIDS doesn’t kill them, the hard work will.

Once again, I thank all of you for your donations , support and prayers.  My case of malaria was not severe, thank the Lord.  I know many people are depending on me to do a good job here.  Trust me, I don’t believe I have ever worked any harder in my life to make this orphanage a success.

If someone had told me 7 years ago that I would be divorced, serving in Peace Corps for 2 ½ years,   building an orphanage, buying a tractor, learning about solar power, driving stick shift vehicles and living in Tanzania without the security and support of  Peace Corps, I would say “you must be crazy”. Maybe I am, but I have never felt the presence of the Lord so strongly .  He is doing the work. I am just the vessel.

Peace and love,

Bibi Kay

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