Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GO! hits the streets...

Feb 27, 2012


Normally, I like to wait at least 2 weeks between updates, but there is so many exciting things going on with Hero Home, that I just couldn’t wait to share it with you. If you’re still trying to get through reading the last update, no worries, this update will be there waiting for you, whenever you get the desire!

I also had to send this update because I foolishly forgot to send my PO Box in the last email. How am I ever going to get candy without an address!!

So, just in case you get the urge, my new address is:

Amanda Furst

c/o Tabitha Martin

PO Box 11676



No pressure! Just thought I’d let you know! Also, the third reason for the early update is that I’ve created a video of some of the awesome street kids we’ve started working with. Please check out the video on youtube- GO! talks with the Street Kids of Mwanza, Tanzania and spread it around! It’s available on our website and on facebook. Please post it and help us spread the word and let everyone know why we’re doing what we’re doing!!!

So, when we left off on Feb 18th, the ground was being broken on Hero Home! Seven days later, the ground has not just been broken, our amazing well diggers (Safari, Emmanuel, and Patrick) have reached almost 30 FEET!!! It’s amazing!! I have pictures of the process up on facebook, but even the pictures don’t do justice to just how deep down they are! They are absolutely incredibly guys who work every day with such awesome energy! They are officially part of the GO! Team and we couldn’t be more thrilled! On Friday, they reached rock bottom. They had a huge rock to get through but in a day and a half of constant pounding, they were able to break it up. They’ve said the ground below the rock is moist, so we know that in no time, we’ll have WATER! It’s pretty exciting for all of us! Water really is the key to life and essential for all our future activities!

On Thursday of last week, we held a second town council meeting. Well, Tabitha and Jonathon (our general contractor) held a town council meeting. We all agreed that bringing a white girl into the meeting wouldn’t help our cause of asking for help so I went to work with the well guys and help pull up dirt and rock from the well. Although Tabitha and Jonathon already had a town council meeting last year, we needed to reconfirm our intentions and convince them to help us out with the building process. Tabitha and Jonathon did an amazing job with the 30 town council members and despite some tough questions at the start, they were able to get them all fully on board with our project! It was amazing! Tabitha is such a trooper!!! Let me tell you JUST how much of a trooper she is! On Thursday, we got up at 600am. By 715am we were out the door to bike to the land for the town council meeting. The meeting was scheduled to start at 800am but since members were coming from all different towns, the realistic start time was planned for 10am. Tabitha waited at the office and I headed out to the well. The meeting finally started at NOON, which as Tabitha says, is just BMT- Black Man Time. Tabitha did an amazing job in the meeting introducing Hero Home and explaining that the centre is not just for us but for the whole community. The sports fields are for all the kids in the community, not just our kids. We are also planning on running weekly workshops for Mamas in the community to teach health, hygiene, and even first aid. We asked that we all work together on this project as it truly is there to serve the needs of everyone. Although there was some initial resistance and a few silly questions, Tabitha pushed on and was able to get them all on board and committed to helping us make Hero Home a reality. After the meeting, all 30 people walked the 15 minutes to our land to check it out and get a general idea of where our 30 acres will be. The walk around finished at 6pm!! The meeting was supposed to start at 10, be done by 11 and then the walk around was supposed to be done by noon. BMT indeed. By this time, I had already biked back to Kisesa and was in Mwanza trying unsuccessfully to upload videos on to the internet. Tabitha left the land at 630 and not more than 5 minutes into her ride back, she got a flat tire. So, the amazing person that she is, she RAN all the way back to Kisesa with the BIKE!!!! Like I’ve mentioned, our land is about 10km from our house and the way back has 2 large hills! But, she ran all the way while pushing the bike!! Once she got home, she dropped off the bike and made her way to the main road to hop on a local bus and make her way to Mwanza to meet me. We had decided to go meet some of our future Hero Home kids who are currently living on the streets of Mwanza. We finally met up around 900pm and in less than 15 minutes, we were surrounded by 25 streets kids. It’s an incredibly hard sight. There were about 20 boys and 5 girls. Not a single kid was more than 15 years old. The youngest was 8 years old, unless you count the 10 month old baby that was being carried on the back of his 13 year old mother. The baby, sadly though not surprisingly, was the result of rape. The kids were incredible. A handful of them know Tabitha already and the ones who didn’t instantly respected her. We all sat on a street corner and chatted. We were approached by a couple of local men who wanted the kids to leave. The men were drunk and apparently they frequently beat the kids or burn them with cigarettes. It’s a horrible situation. We talked to the men and told them we would only be a while. We chatted with the kids and they were amazing. Most of them sat quietly on the sidewalk and listened to Tabitha. We wanted to organize a soccer game on Saturday and of course, all the kids were on board. Please check out the video of our first meeting and the soccer game!!! Our plan is to play soccer every Saturday in Mwanza and get to know the kids and see how we can help out, even before the centre is fully built. We left the kids around 1100pm and they went off in search of corners and doorways to sleep in. Some girls walked us to the bus stop as they were going to meet up with other girls. They told us that some of the street kids were picked up and put in a centre in town, but they were beaten in the centre so over half of them have already gone back to the streets. The girls explained that they were all beaten repeatedly at home which is why they decided to leave. No a single kid on the street is there because they would rather sleep on the street than sleep in a home with loving parents, they are there because either they don’t have parents or the parent they do have beats them so much that they sleeping on the street is a more appealing option. It’s a sad situation. In the end, Tabitha and I lucked out and got a local bus back to a town near ours and then got a ride with motorcycle taxis back to our town. We got to our town, Kisesa, at midnight and grabbed some food on the street. Neither of us had eaten since 700am when we left the house to bike out to the land. It was a ridiculously long day, and even longer for Tabitha but she’s such a trooper!!!!

It was a long, hard day but meeting up with the street kids definitely gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. It reminded me why all of this is necessary. No one should be living on the street… but I believe our world has failed if we let 8 year olds sleep on the street, especially when it is within our power to change the situation.

So, that was Thursday. Friday and Saturday we biked out to the land again and on Saturday, some of the town council men came out to mark off our land. I think they measurement skills were a little sketch, but in the end, we got a decent piece of land and on Tuesday, we will finally get the official documents for our land. Very exciting indeed! Saturday afternoon, we headed into Mwanza for our soccer game with the street kids. It was a BLAST!!! My body was exhausted from all the biking and the 12-16 hours a day we had been working, but it felt great to play! The kids were awesome!! Only a couple older boys had a bit of a temper, but the rest were just excited to play! We had a good meeting at the end and set some ground rules and mutual understanding. It went really well and we’re exciting for next week’s game to see how things progress! Yesterday, we rested! It was much needed! I washed clothes, since I hadn’t washed my clothes in well over a week and was definitely in need of some fresh t-shirts.

This week, our plan is to keep working on the well. Once we hit water, we need to make up cement rings to insert in the well and then build a cement cover for the well. We’ve decided against putting a manual pump on the well for now, as we’re hopefully electricity will reach our village by the end of the year and then we can go ahead with a motor to pump water up to a tank. We’ll see what happens!

I hope everyone is well! (no pun intended!) Thanks for the all “get better” wishes. I’m mostly better. The cough is hanging around but I’m getting used to its company! J

Take care! Peace and love!!!