Penny and I arrived at the Maasai village by car. It was such a luxury compared to African buses. Usually I am singing Elvis's song 'All shook up' after one of those journeys.
SCHOOL GIRLS .
Since arriving I have talked with most of the mothers of the girls being supported with fees for secondary school. They are so proud that their daughters are going to secondary school - something that has been so far out of reach til now. Two mothers said that their daughters would already be married against their wills if the school fees had not been offered.
Most mothers said that the girls had asked for solar lamps so they could study in the evenings. As the mothers have no personal experience of school, they've said they do not know how the girls are performing academically. The truth is that although the girls are trying hard and actively participating in class, their marks are low. This is not uncommon in Tanzanian schools, where there are so many challenges to overcome. We have to remember that this is a long-term project that future, rather than present, generations will benefit from.
I have also met with potential members of the rent-a-cow project group. For centuries, cattle have always belonged to men, making women particularly vulnerable if their husband passes away or leaves. This is a scheme therefore open to women only, to give them a way to provide for themselves and their children. It is literally a foreign concept for a woman to own anything, but one that is being embraced.
To be eligible for membership, the women need to:
- Have young children and be prepared to save to pay secondary school fees in the future.
- Join and be an active member of a savings group and willing to learn to budget.
- Pay a regular sum equal to the cost of the cow into the savings group over two years. After that, the woman owns the cow and any calves.
After some discussion, we now have a group of 15 women. Timothy has also taken steps to protect the cattle from being taken away from them by men. The women will be putting their savings into a savings bank so that it is out of reach from others.
On Saturday, I will go to the cattle market to buy 15 cows. Please pray for me for the following:
- For safety. I have been to a market twice before but tend to stay away from the cattle selling. I have witnessed several times a cow suddenly bolting, followed by an ungainly Maasai warrior hanging on to the tail and having warm cow pats splattered down his arm by the uncooperative beast. I don't fancy that!
- For good prices and favour with the vendors.We have 15 women at present but when word gets round, this will grow.
- For understanding from women who do not qualify as members. Timothy is very open and good at explaining things like criteria for joining a group but we need to be sensitive to those who are feeling left out.
- For good management of the savings group and 'rental' or hire purchase payments. I have already bought a ledger and pens for the group secretary and a good record book for each group member. Timothy and Jacob will oversee it and they are receiving £25 per month to help them if they have to turn down job opportunities. Timothy says 'Usually, nobody considers pastors in Africa so this is wonderful. Jacob has been dancing and singing for joy since he heard this news.'
Please pray for us and in particular for Saturday and then tying up all the ends on Sunday.
All my love and thanks as always,