We Can’t believe we are already looking into booking flights to Cape Town in South Africa. Our motorcycles are on the boat and they will arrive in a month from now. It seems like yesterday that i was packing my gear for what became the first segment of the trip around the world “From Italy to Mongolia”. I remember that in Greece, during that segment i was doubting myself that this dream of mine could become a reality. Three years later here we are. Still going. We went from Italy to Japan, crossing spectacular countries such as Uzbekistan and Mongolia, Then from the Canadian Arctic ocean to Ushuaia at the bottom of Argentina, crossing of course all beautiful Central America, and now the last but not least continent. AFRICA. So many expectations and hopes. Of course we will try to document as much as possible this truly magical journey that we are soon about to take. We don’t usually have a set itinerary when we travel but below is a rough estimate of our route.
After helping the children of “Kindergarden 58” in Mongolia, The “Virgen de fatima” in Bolivia we are now trying to make a little difference to the children of the Tumaini children foundation in Arusha Tanzania. With your help, Matteo and myself, are hoping to replicate the success of the previous projects undertaken in the past.
TUMAINI CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
Tumaini Children’s Foundation is a not for profit, charitable organization dedicated to the care, support and education of orphaned and needy children in and around Usa River, Arusha, Tanzania. TUMAINI Children’s Foundation, or (TUCHIFO, – acronyms are VERY popular in Tanzania) has acquired its NGO registration (United Republic of Tanzania, Non-Governmental Organization Act, 2002, Section 12(2) of Act. No. 24 of 2002, Certificate No. 3232) and has received charitable registration approval from Revenue Canada. TUCHIFO has no religious affiliation, most simply put; the level of need dictates the level of assistance TUCHIFO provides.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2008 it was ranked (based on 2006 stats) 162nd out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index. Canada was ranked #3. This index references quality of life, life expectancy, standards of living, education, etc. Malaria kills one in five Tanzanian children. The human decimation of HIV/AIDS has left a population of almost 50% children (under fourteen years of age). Less than 5% of children in Tanzania complete secondary school and many will not even finish their primary educations because of the cost. For one child to attend public school, (where classes approximate one hundred students per teacher and students attend without pens, pencils, paper, desks, etc.) a family must allocate the equivalent of almost $100 Cdn. per child to cover the cost of: watchman/water/school maintenance/desk $40; uniform shirts (2) $10; uniform skirt/trouser $10; uniform sweater $10, uniform shoes and polish $15, uniform socks $2, school book bag $5; exercise books $5. $100 equates to ¼ of the average annual household income of $395 Cdn. and is impossible for most families to commit to a child’s education. TUCHIFO’s objective is to acquire sponsorship for all of our children to attend non-government schools, where classes are closer to 30 students/teacher and children are taught English (public primary education is taught in Swahili), which they will require to continue in secondary school because that is taught in English. Lacking a fundamental understanding of English, both written and spoken is a serious impediment to educational advancement. Private school tuition averages Cdn. $600/year/child plus the cost of uniforms (Cdn. $50). “Our vision is to support our children through secondary and even post secondary education in order to give them the best chance at a full life.” Says Mrs Cherie Szucs, Founder of the Tumaini Children foundation.
Cherie goes on by saying : “We live in rented premises but our long-term plan is to fund raise and purchase our own land and build a permanent home and school for our needy children”. The children of Usa River have no concept of possessions because they have nothing to possess. Most of our children have never coloured, or written their own names. We are going to change all of that.
Mrs. Cherie Szucs (Such) “Mama Dee”
Born in Toronto, Ontario in 1961, Cherie grew up in typical, middle class neighborhoods in Mississauga, Burlington, Hamilton and most recently Simcoe, Ontario. She attended Mohawk College and McMaster University in Hamilton (Women’s Studies & Religious Studies) and has worked in real estate since 1980 in administration, accounting, management and sales and has assisted her husband as a ginseng farmer since 1992. She has two adult step children, Amanda and Stephen and is “Mama” to the “watoto” (children) of Tumaini!
Cherie worked for years as a volunteer with the Burlington Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce); has been involved, for over a decade, with Girl Guides Canada as a troop leader and regional director; she has worked for several years as a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization; and has volunteered on several different committees within her church.
Early in 2009 Cherie tended to her dying father (prostate cancer) nursing him through his death in April. Shortly after his funeral she vowed to realize a lifelong dream to “give back” some of the many blessings she has enjoyed over the years. Africa, and its’ terrible need has tugged at her heart for many years.
A local newspaper ran an article on Tanzania and helping children and the link was Oddo. They met initially over the internet, Cherie decided to make a trip to Tanzania to investigate and the rest as they say, is history.
The two of them teamed together and Tumaini Children’s Foundation was born. Tumaini was registered in Tanzania (2009) as an N.G.O under The Non-Governmental Organization Act, 2002 (No. 00003232), , and in February of 2010 we received our charitable status in Canada.
The needs of the children of Tanzania are immeasurable by western standards. Deplorable living conditions, malaria, HIV/AIDS, all have contributed to an inhumane standard of living and we must help.
A home was leased and children in desperate and immediate need were brought into our care. Initially numbering twenty-four, we quickly grew to our present number of 52 children.
Mr. Oddo Joseph Ndonde was born in the village of Songea in southern Tanzania, August 23rd, 1964. The eldest of seven children he trained in the seminary and studied to become a Roman Catholic priest. He is married and has four healthy children, Elizabeth, Joseph, Ruthie and Reuben.
Oddo is well qualified to assist children in need and has attended several training programs and courses over the years including: Public and International Relations; African Traditional Studies; Conflict Resolutions; Children’s Rights; Clinical Pastoral Education (Counseling); Counseling for Traumatized Children; Project Planning and Management; Financial Management for Development Organizations; Gender and Good Governance and Civics Participation in Local Governance.
Since 1997 Oddo has dedicated himself to working with vulnerable and orphaned children in different organizations before cofounding Tumaini Children’s Foundation with Mama Dee. He has held the positions of Central Manager, Project Manager, Counselor and Assistant Director and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the National Networking of Organizations working with Children in Tanzania (N.N.O.C.) and participated in forming the Forum for Child Concerned N.G.O.’s in Arusha (F.O.C.N.A.)
Joining Mr. Oddo on a walk through the streets of Arusha is all the validation he requires as most adults and the many street children of “town” refer to him as “Teacher”