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Following on from raising almost €93,000 for six Irish charities with our unforgettable Kilimanjaro climb in August. We are back with one last goal for our friends in Tanzania who feature in the "From Cork to Kili" documentary.
The goal is to

(1) cover the costs to provide a Christmas Day celebration for everyone in Tir Na Nog Orphanage including new outfits for the children, a family meal and party for everyone and a a day trip to a new swimming pool with a soft indoor area for the kids to play in.

Louise had plans to bring all the children there after Christmas Day but it costs €25 per child to do all the activities which is very expensive.
We would love to give them a Christmas they wont forget and will donate any leftover money to help alleviate their monthly costs of running of the orphanage which can be up to €4000.

(2) help some of the porters who helped us on our trek, by paying for them to attend a training course in Mweka College so they have the necessary training to become a guide which will enable their wage to jump from $8 to $25 a day, which will be absolutely life changing and sustainable long term for families, as guides have the highest wage.

If we raise €5000 we will get to help a minimum of 15 porter's families forever.

Why help the porters?

These opportunities are things that are just not accessible or attainable for people here as 70% of the Tanzanian population live on less than $2 per day.
There is no assistance, no such thing as the dole or covid payment, if you don't work, you don't eat and in a lot of cases you have to give up your children and leave them at the gate of an orphanage as you can't support them.
I can tell you first hand how absolutely soul destroying it is to witness how hard the people work and how little they are paid.
We spent nine days on Kilimanjaro in the company of 43 porters, guides, cooks and camp staff. Some on as little as €6.50 a DAY, walking at a ferocious rate against the altitude, some with no proper gear on, balancing chairs, tables and tents on their heads with their AND your 30kg bags protected in raingear strapped to their body.

They get to camp before you to set up, sometimes doubling back again to come back down and see do you want help as they try to take your day bag from you.

On summit night your guide may have your bag and his so you can reserve your energy. They aren't even allocated the food we, the clients, have to eat, they are away from their families only to come down the mountain to go back up again a day or two later with a different group, as they have so many family members dependent on their wage.
We climbed Kilimanjaro as a choice, they do it as a necessity to provide for their families.
There is no choice and no way of ever being able to get ahead unless they are qualified in the necessary training to do so.
I did my research, some cannot even move up the ladder from porter to guide as the training requires a fee of $350 to attend college, which of course they don't have. It is an endless cycle of struggle, even if they wanted to better themselves they are never awarded the opportunity to. The courses are full time for 36 days, so in order to do this they need to stop working, which means, you guessed it, no income at all.
We all deserve a chance in life irrelevant of where we come from. This fundraising money can change a persons life and that of their families. Training can cost anything between $350-1000 each.

I will be working closely with Peak Planet who will be monitoring their progress and keeping me updated. they are aligned with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). KPAP is a non-profit organization that monitors Kilimanjaro operators to protect the welfare of porters. Porter abuse is a big problem on the mountain. Many Kilimanjaro operators underpay, underfeed and overload their staff. Yet, claim they treat their porters well. The only way to be sure your operator isn’t part of the problem is to climb with a KPAP Partner Company. The plan is to use the money raised to give as many as we can an opportunity. We will follow up with filming those who have completed the course and their progress to show you exactly how it has made a difference.

Why help Tir Na Nog Orphanage?
There are an estimated 90,000 orphans in the Kilimanjaro region alone, 8% of children under 18 are orphaned.

These children grow up not being wanted, not knowing love, believing there is no hope for them and no one cares. They are victims of physical abuse, starved and some are thrown away like a newspaper at a bus stop. They arrive at Tir Na Nog with the police or someone from social services at any time of day or night with an adult promising that they will be back to get them, but they never return.

I walked around where sixty of these children live. It is dilapidated rented accommodation not fit for purpose, with one shower which is a tap on the wall and two toilets in the ground between them all. There are three to four kids in stacked bunk beds, the roof is coming down in the communal area, if it rains hard then all of the kids have to be taken out of the beds as the rain pours in on top of them. Rats and cockroaches walk about and the food has to be cooked outside as the smoke inhalation due to no ventilation inside, was causing illnesses amongst kids and staff.
I have one child's face in particular engrained in my mind as she wrapped her little hands around my leg and shadowed me for the duration. I held onto a baby girl in the car ride back to our accommodation as she fell asleep in my arms clinging for dear life to a lollipop Id given her earlier.
Had I not been climbing Kilimanjaro the following morning Id have gone back in a heartbeat as it broke me to walk away thinking me handing out a Cadbury's bar can cut it.
These babies seeing more trauma in their little lives than most adults here.

My mind wanders to the tiny four month old baby who arrived in the arms of the police one night soaked to the bone. As his mother unable to care for him or herself, had tried to drown him down in the river, this was after she bit him on his arms and legs while he screamed out in pain.

Or the young teenage girl who was being married off to an older man who they took in and protected, sent to school and gave an education to instead.

In the car ride there, Louise told me how some of the teenage girls she took in had been victims of multiple rapes, three had fallen pregnant and were subsequently kicked out of school. How she had to fight for them to re gain access to their education as their pregnancies were not their fault, they were taken advantage whilst in the care of some other organization who then also disposed of them. One of the girls went on to miscarry her baby at 5 months and another girls baby died at 3 months as she contracted yellow fever.

As a mother of teenage daughters myself, I struggled hard with this info
How terrified they must have been and all they had to endure at such a young age.

So many babies and children all with a different story.

One 17yr old can be heard saying if she was to die now she would "thank God for her life and the time she had at Tir Na Nog", since being there from age 4 as "now she knows love".

Imagine at 17 years of age being so grateful for so little. Yet people categorize her as poor.

I visited a site that they are focused right now on trying to start a new build and need to funnel their resources into this, I thought we could maybe help alleviate things for them, by helping out with a smaller financial cost and treat them all to Christmas, which would leave them free to focus on the financial side of things in respect to building for a few weeks at least, to try and secure the missing funding they need for their new build. This money was originally promised by a German businessman who retracted the offer after the recent flooding's as he was forced to use his funds there first.

This now means the building has to be done in phases, the first of which is starting shortly.

The back story to how this all came about

 As some of you know, I had previously reached out to people in Tanzania last year prior to our Kilimanjaro trek for Irish charities simply to see what I could help with or take over with me to help any underprivileged and orphaned children over.
"Used black shoes, pencils, sharpeners, erasers and maybe a skipping rope and a football" they said.

"I'm on it" I replied.

In a matter of weeks and with thanks to the amazing followers on my Out in the Sticks with Six blog, I had 594 pairs of black shoes, thousands of stationary bits, almost 100 footballs, 200 plus skipping ropes and games etc which soon took over my house just before Christmas thanks to my postman's delight.

I then faced my other roadblock, actually getting the boxes over there safely. Tanzania has no export or import business which means anything bigger than an envelope will be seized at customs and a tax will be placed on said item for the recipient to collect. Which they never can afford to do, so all items are seized and sold on for personal gain. No wonder the people had absolutely nothing, I was so mad.

I pleaded with Irish politicians asking for help, I spoke to other Irish people who ship items into other countries for charity and no joy. It took me four long months of daily emails, texts and calls to people worldwide to try and ship these items and not leave close to 600 orphans and young children down.
A friend of mine, Tralee woman, Louise Quill, had been out in Tanzania since 2006, she is the director of Tir Na Nog Orphanage. Ironically someone tagged her in my post on my blog asking for help in 2020 and the rest, as they say is history.
As it transpired, Louise and I both paid for a local Tanzanian guy to go to the airport and pick up the boxes. She knew him, knew he was trustworthy and reliable and that he needed a wage to support his large family. So Mushi and I too soon became friends but he was tested beyond his limits, surrounded and intimidated for seven days simply trying to retrieve the delivery for me. He would leave the airport at night and return the following day to be subjected to the same thing all over again, each day with new charges, new issues and on one day where they tore open the boxes. It was terrible he would text, call me and send me video's and Id have to calm him down and talk him through it.
After a week and money exchanging hands, we finally were allowed take the boxes. It then took Mushi 9 hrs to drive with 22 boxes tied onto the back of an open hiace truck before he reached Moshi. The boxes were safely delivered to both Tir Na Nog and Stella Maris Primary School, where I sent a film maker to record the kids reactions and also show people back home, fully invested in this journey, that their donations had arrived finally.
Due to travel restrictions in Ireland, I wouldn't arrive myself until six months later.

I guess we are often asked for donations to help causes but very rarely get to see where the items go or what they are used for. I had spent months collecting, itemizing and packing boxes thanks to the generosity of the Irish people. I knew what was in every box so to walk into a classroom in one of the poorest parts of the world and to see children wearing those very shoes I had packed, impacted me massively.

It was the reaction for me, as the children are often asked to sing a song for passing tourists, so I think for them it can be a bit monotonous, until it shifted when a teacher asked them if they recalled the boxes of items that arrived a few months ago and the realization hit. Suddenly there was a drop of jaws, kids faces actually looking up and directing their gaze towards me with a huge smile, kids were kicking up their feet to show me the shoes they had on, Id recognize them as ones Id packed carefully months earlier.
In that moment I just felt like they knew someone saw them for them. Not as a Tanzanian child for a photo opportunity for the "gram" but as a bloody human being who someone finally went to the trouble of helping from outside of their village.

It is one thing trying to help but it is a whole other thing being in a classroom on the other side of the world where you are told some children have been handpicked to go, as not all children within a home in Tanzania have the luxury of going to school. They are cherry picked by members of the school board and community as to who they feel school will benefit, the rest are just forgotten.

So as I'm handing sweets out to children who don't even know what they are, I have children running their hands through my hair and keeping strands of it saying "this is for me". Three and five year old's walking past me nudging the other waving saying "that is the one who give us the shoes".

Its not lost on me that they have so little but yet are so very thankful.

I then finally get to meet Louise in person in Tanzania, she arrives with her husband Derek to pick me up and take me to the orphanage. As I wait in the accommodation reception I hear the Kerry drawl of "would ya look at the Cork head up on yer wan" as we run to hug each other laughing.

Louise is one of the most incredible selfless people I have ever met. Every time she speaks I learn something new. I try to soak up as much as I can with her when I'm there with a heavy heart knowing I have to walk away again.

Arriving to Tanzania in 2006 age 22 Louise was unable to just walk away from the children who had no one.

She is still there fighting for them and trying to build a new home for them.

I spent a few hours with Louise as we picked up the beautiful babies from nursery and visited the new site she is currently trying to build their new residence on. I was so delighted one of the babies took to me and I got to hold them for a little while. I also got to meet some of the older kids who got the boxes we sent to them back in February.
As we drove out of Kilimanjaro airport on day one I saw a child not bigger than Indie (5) sitting and looking after a herd of goats. I was slapped with the stark realization that this child's life was pre destined for him simply because of where he was born. That could have been my child there easily and I really struggled to keep my emotions in check but knew that if I went back to Ireland and told others maybe we could do something.

I am hoping to try and share this story with you all to just make a difference here so we can collectively help and give these children a Christmas they more than deserve.

We will share videos and photos of their Christmas celebrations on the Out in the Sticks with Six social media pages, so you can see exactly how your donation just made life a little bit brighter for some in Tanzania and what a difference it has made in the lives of people who simply think the world has forgotten all about them.

Many thanks Lenore x


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