Through our eyes

8th Grade Curiosities

This is the final week of 8th Grade Curiosities (unless the Avenue City 8th Graders decide to send more questions!).  In a few weeks, we’ll respond to the 6th Grade Questions.  In the meantime, Avenue City Students, or anyone for that matter, please feel free to send more questions to john.melissa.tanzania@gmail.com or reply to this blog post.  Thanks again for your thoughtful questions!

Is what you are doing volunteer work, or is it like a job?

Our work here is through two organizations, Mosaic and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Global Missions.  Through Mosaic, we are ‘International Fellows,’ and through ELCA Global Missions, we are ‘Global Mission Volunteers.’  We receive a small monthly stipend to cover our basic living expenses here in Moshi; however, officially we are doing volunteer work.  After experiencing the past few weeks, we feel that the work we will do will actually be more like a job.  We report to the ELCT-ND office at 9:30 each morning and we usually do not leave the office until 5:30 or later.  It’s a bit confusing to explain, but we love what we are doing!

What is your average work day like?  Do you work with the kids? Or do you do more business-like things?

It is hard to say what an average work day looks like because each one is different.  However, we can give you a general overview of how the workday goes at the ELCT-ND office.  We generally meet at the office at 9:30 and discuss the events for the day, follow-up on items from the previous day, or begin working on necessary tasks.  The ELCT office has tea and bread at 10:30 each morning so staff always take a 15 to 20 minute break.  We then either attend a meeting in the community or go back to work with one of the Building a Caring Community’s (BCC) leadership team members.  The ELCT office has lunch at 1:00 so we generally go run an errand in the community while eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  After lunch, we meet again to attend another meeting or to continue working on business-like tasks.  Although this is the general schedule for the ELCT office, many of our days are spent in the community, working with different organizations, and researching possible business opportunities for the caregivers in the program.

Therefore, we do complete more business-like tasks than work with the children in the day centers.  We visited all 11 day centers when we arrived in Moshi, but now that we are moving along with new programs for BCC, we will visit day centers periodically, but not as frequently as we complete our business-like tasks.  The program specifically finds volunteers to work with the children that have specialties in speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, teaching, etc.  Our skills match better with the programmatic side of BCC (specifically including the development of social businesses and micro-lending opportunities), so that will be our focus during our time here.

Are we able to send money to help out a family?

Of course!  Donations are always accepted by BCC and money is a concern for the families.  However, rather than sending money to a specific family, you could send money to the BCC program via the Mosaic Foundation.  If you want to give money to a family for food or other needed items, you can specify that.  However, as you remember from our presentation with your class, we shared about the benefits of micro-lending and cooperatives.  Therefore, another option is to send money for micro-lending and cooperatives and then the money had a greater chance of growing.  If $50 is given to a caregiver that decides to open up a fruit stand, the caregiver may be able to earn a sustainable income and not need food donations in the future.  If you or your family would like to donate to BCC, click on the “Ways to get involved” link at the top right of this page.  Be sure to specify TANZANIA in the comment box; if you want to be even more specific, you can add additional comments. 

One of the 8thgraders mentioned that they would like to send some of the money that they make babysitting over the summer.  This is incredibly thoughtful and generous of you!  As mentioned above, financial help is much needed and greatly appreciated.  If you would like to send a check instead of going on Mosaic’s website to donate, you or your parents can write a check, being sure to designate TANZANIA, and send it to:

The Mosaic Foundation

4980 S 118 Street

Omaha, NE  68136

BCC employs over 20 people (mostly caregivers of children with disabilities), serves more than 140 children in 11 day centers, and does all of this with less than $170,000 per year.  Each day, we see BCC carefully deciding how to spend their money so that they can do their best to serve the children and the caregivers with the money they have. 

Is there any way that I can help out?

We realize that most people cannot fly to Moshi and volunteer in the program, so the biggest way you can help out is by spreading the word about the program and the overall need to work toward a better quality of life for all people, especially individuals with disabilities.  You probably remember that we talked about “People-First” language with your class.  We discussed that individuals are always referred to with the person first, or in a personally preferred format.  For example, when referring to a person with disabilities, the correct term is “person with disabilities” not a “disabled person.”  Making this switch in the way we talk is a great way to help out!

Remember to always respect individuals with any disability.  They are people, just like all of us.  Advocating for individuals with disabilities nationally and internationally in any form or fashion helps all individuals with disabilities.  This can be as simple as inclusion on the playground, a smile on the street, or, as discussed earlier, changing your language and the way you refer to people with disabilities.

Can anyone else think of appropriate ways to help?

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