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Would you consider a $26 donation?

In June we spent three weeks volunteering in Tanzania – you might have seen our other blogs or pictures on Facebook. In that time we came across a project that really touched our hearts that we are now supporting, and we’re hoping you might consider supporting it too.

Let me take you to a little village called Tengeru just outside Arusha in Tanzania, where there is a pre-primary school called Meru View.

Meru View caters for 63 of the poorest children in the Tengeru village. Most of the children have lost either a mother or a father, and in some cases both parents, to HIV. Their families live in one or two room houses with dirt floors and no running water or electricity. Unemployment is high – most parents don’t work. For many of the children their school uniform is their only set of clothes. Often there is no food available at home, so they live on nothing more than sweet tea.

Access to the school is via a dirt road lined with banana trees and rubbish that’s barely passable by car. The school consists of a rectangular patch of dirt (the playground) and one set of buildings including four classrooms, an office and a storage room. There is no electricity, no play equipment, no text books for the children, only three teachers between four classes, and on some days (depending on funding) there aren’t enough pencils to go around.

Meru View is the only pre-primary school in the area. It provides the children with two meals a day, health care and pre-primary education in English. Its vision is to break the cycle of poverty by giving the poorest children in the village the best start in life through good health and education. Without Meru View, most of the kids that attend would not eat, would receive no health care and would have limited chance of moving into Primary School.

The children that attend Meru View are people like Paulina.

Paulina (pictured left) is four years old, and has been at Meru View since she was three. When she first arrived at Meru View she was significantly undernourished, lacked energy and was often unwell. After the Head Teacher arranged tests, it was confirmed that she was HIV positive. Her father passed away from disease, she has no grandparents and her mother is unemployed. Without an income, Paulina and her mother have nothing to eat. Paulina has only two sets of clothes, and only one pair of shoes.

Since attending Meru View, life has changed dramatically for Paulina and her mother. Paulina is now on the Government antiviral program for people who are HIV positive. Meru View takes care of all her other health needs, for example providing antibiotics and extra nutritional support when she recently caught a chest infection. Her mother works at Meru View sweeping the grounds, maintaining the fire pit and watering the vegetable garden. The school provides two meals a day for both Paulina and her mother – the only food that either of them will eat all day.

Paulina’s health has improved dramatically – she is now full of energy, and has a smile that would light up the whole world. She can count to 10, name colours, speak some words in English and is learning to read. When Paulina grows up she wants to be a fairy, or a teacher.

Paulina was one of the children that we had the privilege of meeting while we were in Tanzania. What really touched us and inspired us to support Meru View is that despite how little the children like Paulina have, or perhaps because of it, their graciousness and gratitude is astounding.

We were at the school one Saturday to help distribute a set of clothes to each child. The clothes were a hotch potch of second hand items, often a little bit worn or wrinkled. Every single child accepted what they were offered with absolute joy, and would look up at us with a shy smile and in a small voice would say “thank you teacher”. Compare that to the Western world where a child can throw a tantrum because they want to wear the yellow dress instead of the pink one, or because they like their sister’s shoes better than their own.

There is no spitting out your vegetables at Meru View. Every meal time, plates are licked clean, despite the fact that the two meals they receive at school are the same every day. On the Saturday we were out at the school, one of the girls said she was feeling sad that day. When we asked why, she said it was because she hadn’t had her porridge at Meru View. That’s when it dawned on us that if the school provides their only meals, on weekends the kids don’t eat at all.

All the children know that it’s an absolute privilege to receive an education. Here the kids cry when they can’t go to school, not the other way around. So many of the things we take for granted are new for them. We ran an art class with the three year olds (what they call ‘baby class’) and set out paints, textas, coloured pencils and butchers paper. When the kids just looked at us blankly, we realised that they had never seen paint before, and had never even used a coloured texta.

These are children that have barely enough to survive, let alone access to luxury items like paint, and yet they are happy, gracious and grateful.

The school runs entirely on donations and is managed by Vikki Thomas (pictured above with Paulina), a Nurse from the UK. Vikki is an inspiration herself. Following a gas bottle explosion where she suffered 67% burns to her face and body and lost a leg, she came to Africa to use her nursing skills to help others. She volunteers her time to manage the school and look after the children’s health. Vikki is The Dragonfly Collective’s latest Project Champion.

In the past few months, Meru View has lost a major donor. As a result, the school can no longer afford to provide vitamins to the children with their meals, and the budget for the meals program has been halved, meaning there is less food available for the kids. The school has also been forced to review the numbers of students they can support.

And so on behalf of the kids at Meru View we have two requests of you:

  1. That you consider donating just $26, which will provide one month of food, medical care and education for a child at Meru View.
  2. That you forward this request to your friends, family and colleagues.

We can guarantee that 100% of your donation will go directly towards feeding, educating and providing medical care to the children at Meru View. There are no administration fees to cover – Vikki, who manages the project, volunteers all her time, and any fees associated with international transfer of donations will be covered by The Dragonfly Collective.

If 63 people donate just $26, we will have funded the school for one full month, ensuring the kids receive vitamins and a full serve of food at meal times.

This is an incredibly worthy cause – we wouldn’t be asking for your support otherwise.

How to donate

The Dragonfly Collective will collect donations on behalf of Meru View. You can make a direct deposit into the below account. Please include your name in the payment details.

The Dragonfly Collective
Westpac Banking Corporation
BSB: 033039
Account number: 654029

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