Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recycle your Christmas Cards!

Recycle your Christmas greeting cards… and send a smile to a child!

Did you know that those Christmas cards you received this year can be "recycled" in a way that will bring hope and joy to an orphan or other at-risk child in Tanzania, Africa?

Just cut off the front of the card and use the blank side as a postcard on which to write a note of encouragement. You then simply send your written postcards to us (U.S.A address) and we will ensure they are delivered personally to children in Tanzania who are in need of a message of encouragement.

It’s a gift that stays in a child’s heart. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. And it’s easy for everyone to do.

Learn more at www.heartsinunity.org/message.html

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nimble Fingers in a Labor of Love

We are continually humbled by the selfless giving of time, energy and love by those who are knitting and crocheting hats for the children of Tanzania.

The most recent distribution of these beautiful, donated hats took place just last month. It was a day of smiles and laughs -- each Tanzanian child delighted with a new hat to help keep them warm during the cold, rainy season high up in the mountains of Tanzania.

We welcome you to view this short video of some of the children who have been truly blessed by these gifts.

video

We are always looking for additional volunteers to join us in this mission of love. If you knit or crochet, and you would like to make a difference in the life of one of these precious children, please contact us at hearts_in_unity@yahoo.com

To learn more about this ongoing project, please visit our website at: www.heartsinunity.org

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
~Charles Dickens

This Christmas season, may you experience the joy that comes from acts of kindness and generosity shared among all of the people of this world.

May God bless us all.

Krismas Njema...Merry Christmas,
Sue and Roland

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Gift of Shoes

A school uniform ... a shirt, a skirt or pair of trousers, and a pair of shoes. Seems simple enough. If you have a school uniform and shoes, you can attend school.

Yet, for families in Tanzania, buying the required school uniform and shoes for their children is a burden that they too often can not bear. When a family is struggling to survive on less than $1 a day, parents must often make heartbreaking choices about providing for their families.

Their children are hungry -- for both food to nourish their bodies, and for education to nourish their minds. Do they, as parents, sacrifice their children’s access to education, the only key to breaking out of the cycle of poverty, in order to have the means to feed their children sometimes even just a single meal each day?

Orphans, often living with grandparents, are at an even greater disadvantage in the stronghold of the cycle of poverty.

But there is a simple solution. With a single donation to Hearts in Unity to purchase school uniforms and shoes for the orphans in the Tanzanian villages of Seela and Mwika, you can help ease the burden of a difficult choice for these parents. By making a simple donation towards the purchase of school uniforms and shoes, you can help these children to attain the education that allows them to have greater opportunities in life than they ever dreamed possible.

During this Christmas season, give a gift that helps feed a child's mind -- a simple gift of shoes for a child living in Tanzania, the 5th poorest country in the world. When a child has shoes, he or she can attend school, and a whole new world of opportunity opens.

Is there room in your heart for these precious children?
Please help us to reach our goal of providing 100 more pair of shoes for the orphans in our Tanzanian villages before the start of their next school year in mid-January. Click on the "Give" link on the right-hand column of this site to make a difference today.

For more information about this and other Hearts in Unity programs to help feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania, please visit www.heartsinunity.org.

Asante sana na Mungu akubariki sana (Thank you and God bless you).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daily Life in Tanzania -- Tweet!

Karibu! Welcome to Tanzania!

Today is the start of the journey back to Tanzania! Please join us!

Experience life in the remote villages on the slopes of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro. If the internet connection is cooperative, and fuel is available to run the generator for electrity, we plan to log our November travels and project updates through our journal of daily "tweets" on Twitter.

In addition to the full history of our "tweets" on Twitter, the most recent Twitter updates are also viewable on this blog (see right-hand column) and on our Hearts in Unity website.

Don't have a Twitter account? No problem -- our Hearts in Unity Twitter page is open to the public. We hope you will follow us!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Welcome Home to Tanzania!

The month of November will be an exciting time for Hearts in Unity!

Sue returns to Tanzania again this month where she and Roland will continue to build on the many wonderful Hearts in Unity projects underway in the mission to help feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at-risk children in Tanzania.

So what will the next month bring? Here are a few of the highlights...

Spending time in the villages of Seela (on Mt. Meru) and Mwika (on Mt. Kilimanjaro), we plan to meet with the women of the Mioyo Pamoja (Hearts in Unity) sewing coops to help them further evaluate and fine tune their business plan so that they can continue with the great success they have with their tailoring/knitting business -- in particular, the important service they provide to the community by sewing school uniforms for local children. We are excited that we will be able to purchase the knitting machine that they have been requesting. We will also begin to gather the information we need to apply for financial grants from the Tanzanian government to help assist these women in the expansion of their sewing coop to include tailoring classes.

We will also spend time at Seela Primary and Maring'a Juu Primary schools to meet with the teachers for a discussion of the current needs of the school, the teachers and the students. While there, we will distribute donations of fabric school bags filled with much needed school supplies, and distribute eyeglasses to the children who need corrective eyewear to help them better succeed in school.

We are excited about our upcoming implementation of a music education program for the children of Seela...distributing recorders (flutes) and sheet music, and teaching the older students how to play the musical instrument so that they in turn can teach the younger children. Music is such an integral part of the Tanzanian culture that this will be such a joy for the children and parents alike.

We will also visit with the orphans in Mwika who have been connected with pen pals through Hearts in Unity, bringing greetings from the U.S. and taking photos to bring back to the pen pal partners of these children.

We are eager to continue to expand our livestock project -- with plans to purchase a cow and several goats to help provide nutrient rich milk to the children in our villages, as well as purchasing chickens to provide protein rich eggs. Several meals are also planned to help feed the children of families in the village who are struggling to put food on the table for their families.

Many of the orphan and at-risk children will receive hand-knit hats to help keep them warm during the rainy season. These hand-knit hats are a labor of love donated by the many volunteers who have opened their hearts to the children of Tanzania.

It will be a busy month!

What a privilege it will be to give gifts from those who have so generously opened their hearts to the children of Tanzania. With your help and support, we are truly making a difference and changing lives, one precious child at a time.

Thank you for joining us in this mission!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kind Hearts... Warm Kids!


Africa gets cold? It sure does!

For those living on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Meru, the rainy season brings cold weather that chills everyone to the bone. Children living on high on the slopes of these Tanzanian mountains are at particular risk -- they often live in houses made of mud and sticks, and rarely have enough clothes -- hats, jackets, shoes -- to protect them from the cold rainy seasons.

But thanks to the kindness and generosity of Kathy M. and her friends at of Lodi Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin, more than 50 children will soon have brand new hand-knit hats to help to keep them warm as the rainy season approaches.

Asante sana! Thank you very much!

This gift is truly a labor of love -- God's work through the hands of so many who have opened their hearts to the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania.

If you also knit or crochet, and you'd like to get involved in the mission of Hearts in Unity, please visit our website to learn more... http://www.heartsinunity.org/Clothe.html

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Messages from The Heart

Jambo to the 2nd grade Girl Scouts at Shady Lane Elementary School!

We are so happy to have spent time with these 23 wonderful girls who have opened their hearts to children on the other side of the world.

They learned about life in Tanzania through stories and photos, and then shared their messages of encouragement and friendship through their letters from the heart....letters that will be hand delivered this November to the children at Seela Primary School in Tanzania.

Please take a few minutes to watch the start of another amazing connection -- child to child -- reaching out with hearts in unity!

Their efforts are inspiring!

video

If you'd like to reach out to a child in Tanzania and share a message from your heart, please visit us at www.heartsinunity.org/message.html

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Food Crisis Continues...

An update from Maanga about the continuing drought and food crisis in Tanzania...

"The food problem is all over the country not only a few places.

There are some places where the harvests were good but unfortunately people sold their food in high price to nearby countries hoping to buy food in Tanzania to replace it and then keep some money. But that was the end because they couldn’t find food from anywhere in Tanzania with the money they had so they are trying to eat their money now if that is possible. Pole sana.

Otherwise Meru and Kilimanjaro at large is also affected and wherever there is food, the price is real high. We don’t have maize (corn), maharagwe (beans) and mchele (rice) which are our common foods. Ndizi (banana) are also finishing as people are even selling them before they are ready just to get some money to exchange for other foods. It is real so very hard here right now."

In November, Sue will be returning to Tanzania as we to continue to build and expand our programs to help feed our precious children there. We are so grateful to all of you who have been following our mission, and would like to give you a gift of Tanzanian coffee, tea or music as a thank you for your continued support.

Karibu sana! Please visit www.heartsinunity.org/gifts.html to select your gift. Asante sana nu Mungu akubariki sana.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Circle of Life

Just received a message from Maanga in Tanzania...
"My mbuzi (goat) got a new babe in the middle of the night a few days while I was away and no one could hear it to help mama with delivering, so the babe died."
The circle of birth and death -- the same in Africa as all over the world -- yet this simple message speaks volumes of lost opportunities and the struggles to survive in Tanzania, the 5th poorest country in the world. One less goat in the village to help us in our efforts to feed the precious children in our Tanzanian villages is heartbreaking.

So we're reaching out to you, our friends in this mission. Can you help us in our goal to purchase 25 more goats for the people in the villages of Seela and Mwika before the end of the year?

Please visit www.heartsinunity.org/feed.html to learn how you can help us to help feed the precious children of Tanzania.

Asante sana!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scouts with Kind Hearts

This past week, the Girl Scouts and Leaders attending Winding River Camp participated in a unique project to reach out to the children of Tanzania.

video

The children and adults spent time writing letters of friendship and encouragement, making gifts of decorated bandana head scarves, and donating nearly 50 pounds of much needed school supplies to be given to the students and teachers of Seela Primary School located on Mt. Meru in northern Tanzania.

Hearts in Unity is truely grateful to be invited for a third year to this wonderful summer camp to offer the girls a unique service opportunity to connect them with Tanzanian orphans and at-risk children.

We invite you to view the video and see how much fun the girls had again this year.

If you are a part of a scout, school, church or community group, and you would like to participate in a similar service/partnerhip project, please let us know. We would be delighted help you to help the precious children of Tanzania. We welcome your email at hearts_in_unity@yahoo.com.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Stitches of Love

We are delighted to share with you an update from our Mioyo Pamoja (Hearts in Unity) sewing coop in the village of Mwika, Tanzania.

Thanks to the generosity and support of so many people, this sewing coop is thriving.

We started with 4 women in the sewing coop in early 2008, but 2 of the women are now suffering from the ravages of AIDS, and they are no longer able to come to the coop to sew. The sewing coop is currently equiped with 4 treadle sewing machines and 2 electric sewing machines (which they are able to use when there is electricity available). As their first project, the women finished sewing 54 school uniforms for Hearts in Unity to distribute to orphans in Seela. They have spent the last year growing their business by obtaining contracts from local schools to sew school uniforms, by expanding their tailoring services to the community, and by starting their own tailoring school.

They are so pleased that they now have their first two tailoring students... giving opportunities to others as they have been blessed by the opportunities given to them.

Roland writes...

"They are four women now. Two of them are well experienced teachers/trainers and two are students who are learning and will be employed after training. (After the initial opening of the sewing coop by Hearts in Unity in 2008) the women started by donating their shares to buy fabric and start sewing and they managed to pay the house rent, get their daily bread (daily wages/income), pay for electricity and buy new fabrics.

October to January is the best season for them because there are many orders and need of clothes for confirmation, weddings, Christmas presents and new school year starting on January so they make a lot of money around this time.

Please put your effort with them because they are real hard working people I have ever seen."

This business is their life blood, and it provides them with the means to help support their own families... to feed, clothe and educate their own children.

If you are interested in further supporting these women as they labor to raise themselves out of the poverty of life in Tanzania, please visit us at: www.heartsinunity.org

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dreams to Reality

Education... the hope and dream of children living in Tanzania, yet endless barriers limit their opportunities

Education... the true stepping stone out of poverty, yet out of reach of so many Tanzanian children

Education... the foundation to our mission, possible when we join together with our hearts in unity


We invite you to check out our newly updated "Education" web page at www.heartsinunity.org/educate.html where you can read stories about the struggles faced by school children in Tanzania -- from a lack of books and school supplies to a shortage of both classrooms and teachers.

You can also learn more about the ways that you and others can help these children through a donation to purchase books, school supplies or desks... or through volunteer opportunities to sew school bags or make simple textbooks for us to send to the children.

Asante sana! Thank you very much for opening your heart to these precious children!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A World of Priorities

The following Bible verse was shared again with me recently, and I am passing it along as it speaks so well to the world in which we live where priorities are often so different based on the possessions of one’s life.

When Jesus heard his answer, he said, "There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.
Luke 18:22-23, NLT
This man's wealth made his life comfortable and gave him power and prestige. When Jesus told him to sell everything he owned, Jesus was touching the very basis of his security and identity. The man did not understand that he would be even more secure if he followed Jesus than he was with all his wealth.

Jesus does not ask all believers to sell everything they have, although this may be his will for some. He does ask us all, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important than God. If your basis for security has shifted from God to what you own, consider how much better it would be for you to lighten the load of the possessions that weigh down your life.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feeding a family for a week around the world...

The disparity in the amount of food available to families around the world is striking. Compare the amount of food eaten by each of these families per week...

Germany - Average food expenditure for one week:
375.39 Euros or $500.07


United States - Average food expenditure for one week
$341.98


Italy - Average food expenditure for one week
214.36 Euros or $260.10


Mexico - Average food expenditure for one week
1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09


Poland - Average food expenditure for one week
582.48 Zlotys or $151.27


Egypt - Average food expenditure for one week
387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53


Ecuador (South America) - Average food expenditure for one week
$31.55


Bhutan (near India) - Average food expenditure for one week
224.93 ngultrum or $5.03


Chad (Africa; refugee camp) - Average food expenditure for one week
685 CFA Francs or $1.23


The children of Tanzania, Africa come from families that struggle to survive on less than $1 a day to meet ALL of the needs of a family often with 6 or more children -- for their food, clothing, shelter, education.

To learn more about how you can help to feed, clothe and educate the precious children of Tanzania, please visit our website at: www.heartsinunity.org

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Generosity Continues...

As hearts are opened to the needs of the precious children of Tanzania, we see more and more of the amazing work that can be done when we join together in this mission of hope.

A big thank you to the children and teachers of Amy Belle School for your donation of over 200 pounds of school supplies and for 120 jackets, hats, and other clothing items for us to distribute to the orphans and at-risk children in the villages of Seela and Mwika!

The kindness of your heart is a blessing to so many, and we look forward to helping you to nurture your sister school relationships with Seela Primary School and Maring'a Juu Primary School.

The students and teachers of Tanzanian are currently on a one-month holiday from school until mid-July. When they return again for classes, they will be so grateful to hear about this generous donation.

Thank you again for your continued generosity. We'll see you again in the fall. Enjoy your summer holiday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Be our Facebook Friend!

We love to share the story of our mission to help feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania.

How can you help?

- Add us as one of your Facebook friends and tell others we'd like to be their Facebook friend too.

- Help us to promote our cause on Facebook. Join our "Cause" on Facebook and help us recruit others to join the cause in a visible stand in support of these precious children.

When we join together, with hearts in unity, we can truly make a difference.

Karibu! We warmly welcome you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Gift for You

On behalf of the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania, we extend to you their warm greetings. They send wishes for blessings in your lives just as they have been blessed by so many kind-hearted people around the world.

We have accomplished so much by joining together with our hearts in unity to give these children a better life. We celebrate our successes, and we welcome your continued support in our mission to make a difference in the lives of these precious children of Tanzania.

As you give a gift from your heart to help feed, clothe and educate these children, we want also to give a gift back to you... a gift direct from Tanzania.

Visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org and click on the "Gift for You" link at the top of the page to learn more and to select your "thank you gift".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Lesson from First Grade

If anyone would ever doubt the impact that a child can make in the world, they'd have to look no farther than the kids in Mrs. Otzelberger-Held’s first grade class at Amy Belle Elementary School.

In partnership with Hearts in Unity, the students at Amy Belle School recently learned about life in Tanzania.

They were captivated by the vivid photos and first-hand stories of the daily struggles faced by children living in third world countries. They saw how the daily lives of the children in Tanzania were different than their own, and yet similar in so many ways.

And in recognizing the great need of the children in Tanzania for even the most basic of items -- food, clothing and education -- a group of 19 amazing first-graders dedicated themselves to a goal of raising enough money to purchase a dairy cow as a way to help feed the orphan and at-risk children in Tanzania.

With the wonderful support and guidance of their teacher Mrs. Otzelberger-Held, they organized both a bake sale and used book sale. Rallying together their fellow students in this mission, not only did they raise $500 to purchase a dairy cow in Tanzania, they also raised an additional $200 which they dedicated to additional Hearts in Unity projects to help feed, clothe and educate the children in the villages of Seela and Mwika.

As we look at these first graders, we see a glimpse into our future. Even at this young age, they are already changing the world. It's amazing!

We could learn a lot from them, if we just take their lead and open our hearts, as they have, to others in need.

They've already shown us that it really is quite simple.

To learn more about helping to feed the children of Tanzania through a donation of a cow, goats or chickens, please visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sharing the World

“To help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and it’s people...”

With a common mission in mind, Hearts in Unity is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Madison Hostel in Wisconsin.

The Madison Hostel hosted a cultural sharing event this past weekend featuring a Hearts in Unity photo slide show and presentation about “Life in Tanzania.” We are thankful for their welcome and for the opportunity to share the story of our mission to help the children of Tanzania.

We are also appreciative that they have offered their Hostel facility to knitting groups in the Madison area who are interested in knitting hats for the children of Tanzania. In addition, they have graciously agreed to be our Madison area drop-off point for donations of the knitted hats and of hand sewn school bags for the children in our Tanzanian villages. And we look forward to working with them on future endeavors to help give children a greater understanding of the world.

As the doors of our mission at Hearts in Unity are open to all, so also are the doors to the Madison Hostel open to you.

Please visit their website at www.madisonhostel.org for a map to their facility for an overnight stay, or for dropping off your donations of knitted hats or school bags for the children of Tanzania.

To learn more about these and other Hearts in Unity projects, please visit us at www.heartsinunity.org

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stitches of Love

A yard of fabric and a spool of thread... a measure of hope and stitches of love.

Reaching out to the children of Seela Primary School and Maring'a Juu Primary School in Tanzania, the youth of St. Gabriel's School in Hubertus are changing lives.

Earlier this year, the 7th and 8th graders of St. Gabriel's School embarked on a project to make school bags for children in Tanzania. Just 4 short months later, they presented to Hearts in Unity an amazing gift that was truly a labor of their love and a testament to the compassion within these students -- 224 hand-made school bags to send to their Tanzanian friends!

For the children of Tanzania who have so little to support them in their education, these school bags are a precious gift. Our sincere thanks to the youth of St. Gabriel's. Just as you have shared a blessing with others, so will you also receive blessings in return.

To learn more how you can participate in this ongoing school bag project, please visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org and click on the "How Can I Help" tab.

When we join together, with hearts in unity, we can truly make a difference and change lives... one precious child at a time.
We welcome you to join us in this mission.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Problem Shared...

The children of Tanzania are hungry. But together, we can feed them.

The children of Tanzania have few clothes and their shoes, if they have any, are old and worn. But together, we can clothe them.

There are not enough schools, teachers, textbooks or basic school supplies. With such limits to their educational opportunities, the children of Tanzania have little chance to rise out the poverty of generations before them. But together, we can educate them.

We can do all of this when we join with our hearts in unity to help these precious children.

The first step? It’s simple.

A problem shared is a problem half solved.

A year ago, the students in Mrs. Monday’s four 6th grade classes at Kennedy Middle School (KMS) learned about life in Tanzania. Through photos and stories, they came to understand the struggles of daily life in Tanzania, and the problems faced by the children of Tanzania.

In the weeks following the presentation, the KMS students gave heartfelt consideration to what they had learned. And in an admirable show of selfless generosity, they then opened their hearts to the children of Tanzania. Encouraging each other to make donations during a “Penny War” they subsequently raised enough money to purchase 130 textbooks that have since been presented to the students of Seela Primary School in Tanzania.

Together, they made a huge difference in the lives of children they had only just learned about, but to whom they felt a real connection.

Fast forward to 2009, and a return visit to Mrs. Monday’s 6th grade classes at Kennedy Middle School. The 6th graders of last year are in 7th grade now. And today the current 6th graders had the opportunity to learn about life in Tanzania and the continuing struggles of daily life in this third world country. A problem once again shared…

Tomorrow in class they will share their thoughts and discuss what they learned. Is there any doubt that these students also have the hearts to make a difference in the lives of children on the other side of the world?

Together, with hearts in unity, we can ALL make a difference and change lives… one precious child at a time.

video

We welcome you to visit our website to learn more about how you, too, can help the children of Tanzania at www.heartsinunity.org

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do You Sew?

Education is the key to overcoming the crippling poverty which is part of the daily lives of children in Tanzania. Yet, the educational environment in this third world country makes learning a daily challenge.

Schools, classrooms, teachers and textbooks are in short supply. Classrooms with up to 75 students taught by one teacher are common. As many as five students share a single 4-foot long desk. A single textbook is often shared by as many as 20 students. Several students often share a pencil, or use a pencil that has been cut in half by a parent for two children to use.

Few children in Tanzania are fortunate enough to have a backpack in which to carry their pencil and small notebook for school. Having even a simple fabric school bag is a luxury when a Tanzanian family, often with 6 or more children, is struggling to survive on an average income of just $1 a day.

How can you help?

Hearts in Unity is seeking volunteers who would like to participate in a project to sew simple fabric school bags for the children at Seela Primary School and Maring’a Juu Primary School in northern Tanzania, Africa.

This is a wonderful project for both individuals and for sewing/quilting clubs, church groups, scout troops and anyone else who loves to sew.

If you are interested in learning more about helping with this project, please visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org and click on the “How Can I Help” tab at the top of the web page. Additional information and the instructions/pattern for the school bag are on the website, along with Hearts in Unity contact information if you have additional questions.

Karibu! We welcome you to join us in showing these Tanzanian children that people all around the world care about them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Tapestry of Our Lives

Have you ever taken a close look at a piece of tapestry?
It is uniquely representative of the “fabric” of our lives.

On one side is an intricate design of stitches. The different colors of threads are our family, our friends, our teachers and mentors, our faith, our hopes and our dreams – interwoven together in comforting unity. The beautiful design is a pattern for the path and plan for our lives.

Turn it over, and the underside is a mass of loose ends, frayed threads, knots, and seemingly random stitches… designs and images that are not clear because of the bold presence of the many surrounding “imperfections.”

So often, we narrow the view of our own life to the underside of our tapestry. We focus on our circumstances, problems, inconveniences, struggles, and life’s roadblocks and we label these as the imperfections which impede our progress towards a meaningful and rewarding life. And in doing so, we lose sight of the other side... of the beautiful top-side of the tapestry.

For the children of Tanzania, heartbreaking poverty and a perpetual lack of access to adequate food, clothing and education are the imperfections of life that make up the underside of their tapestry.

Yet, for all of the struggles of their daily lives, they have the faith to believe, and the courage to trust that all of the knots and loose ends that are so visible on the underside of the tapestry are actually part of something spectacular -- even if it is not readily apparent to them at any point in time. The people of Tanzania have a strength of faith that continually reminds them of the beauty that is theirs to behold on the other side of their tapestry.

What are the struggles of your life? Do you let them overpower the joy in discovering the amazing path of the plan for your life?

Which side of the tapestry do you live on?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nyumba Yangu... My Home

Where we live is not who we are.

The precious children of Tanzania may live in a house made of mud and sticks with a dirt floor and a thatch roof. Their house may be made of rough hewn lumber with slats between the boards wide enough to peer through. Their house may be constructed from handmade bricks and a tin roof.

These are the houses of Tanzania – the houses of these children, the houses of their relatives, the houses of their teachers, and the houses of their friends. However, it doesn't matter what their HOUSE is actually made of.

What really matters is the picture of their HOME as they see it in their minds and feel it in their hearts. They may not have much of a HOUSE, but their HOMES are built of love and faith and hope.

Isn't that the way it should be?

Below is a sneak preview of part of a new collection of artwork by the children of Seela Primary School and Maring’a Juu Primary School in Tanzania. We hope that you enjoy this show of selected pieces of artwork from their “Nyumba Yangu” (My Home) collection.

Soon, hundreds of pieces of artwork like these will be published in an online Art Gallery for you and the world to see. Drawn with delight by the children of these two schools, their labors of love are a gift for all of the people of the world, who have joined together, with “hearts in unity” to help care for the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania.

We are excited about the pending international release of this art collection. We welcome you to visit our blog regularly to watch for updates as this and other amazing projects unfold.

Karibu! Welcome to the preview of this special art show...

(Be sure to turn on your speakers so you can listen to the children in the village of Seela singing for you while you watch the show)

video

Visit our blog again soon for more information. To receive an email alert when the Art Gallery is LIVE online, please visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org and send us an email request from there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Connecting through Divine Caroline

Hearts in Unity is a member of the DivineCaroline community and publishes on www.divinecaroline.com. We think you may like to read their work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Girl Scouts Rock!

Girl Scout Troop #944 (from Amy Belle School) recently learned about cooking Tanzania-style. They rolled up their sleeves and made chapati (flat bread), ugali (porridge) mchuzi wa mboga (vegetable stew) while learning about foods and meal preparation in Tanzania.

They also opened their hearts to the children of Tanzania, and through their generous donation, we will be able to feed a meal of ugali to another 750 hungry children in the remote villages of Tanzania!

It’s amazing what we can do to help others in need when we join together with our hearts in unity! Girl Scouts rock!

Check out the girls as they make their chapati!

video

Friday, May 1, 2009

Feeding 1,000 Children

Lunch at school seems simple enough. Feed a child's stomach and feed their mind. While there are some schools in Tanzania able to serve students a simple lunch of uji (a thin corn flour porridge) or ugali (a thicker porridge), there are many schools that can not afford this luxury.

The availability of a meal at school ultimately depends on the financial means of the children's parents. But with an average household income of less than $1 a day, paying for a school lunch -- especially when there are often 6 or more children in a family -- is often an expense that families can not bear.

This is the case at Seela Primary School on Mt. Meru in Tanzania.

The teachers tried to start a lunch program for the 1,000 students at this elementary school. But they were met with only the soulful eyes and empty pockets of parents who also wanted nothing more than to feed their children. The parents, however, didn't even have a tin of corn flour with which to to feed their own families, much less an extra amount to send to the school.

So the children are hungry. They arrive at school at 7:00 am to clean the classrooms and school grounds. There is no money to pay a custodian. Then they attend classes from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm.

There is time set aside for a "lunch break" at the school. Children who are lucky enough to live close to the school may wander home to see if there is any food available. Often there is not, and they will get their all-too-common one meal of the day in the evening after gathering firewood and fetching water from the river for the family to use in preparing a meal. Then they will do their homework before sleeping.

For those who live far from the school and walk many miles to and from school each day, there is no time to walk home with a hope that their will be food to eat.

But imagine a Tanzanian child's smile at the sight of a lunch served at school.

This is just what the students at Kennedy Middle School have done.

The students in Mr. Demers six "Foods" classes imagined the hungry children in Tanzania. And they opened their hearts to these children and reached in their own pockets to make a donation to feed the 1,000 children at Seela Primary School a meal for one day.

The 7th grade students in the 5th hour/gold class recently presented the donation to Hearts in Unity. We extend our grateful thanks to the generous students at KMS who have looked at the blessings of their own lives, and who have reached out to help those who are less fortunate.

To learn more about how you, or your school, church or community group can help feed the children of Tanzania, please visit our website at: http://www.heartsinunity.org/Feed.html

KMS students pictured above include: Emily A, Sara B, Rebecca B, Allison B, Edward B, Reed G, Ben G, Brian H, Jacob H, Britney H, Ben K. Matthew K, Taylor K, Sydney M, Abdulwasae M, Zachary N, Ashley S, Sara S, Tyler T, Joseph T, Dimitrios T, Jacob T, Brianna U, Hunter V, Alexia W, Robert W, Rebekah W.
Thanks to all and to Mr. Demers too!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Gift of Books

A big JAMBO! (Hello!) to the students and teachers of Amy Belle Elementary School in Germantown. They recently hosted a day-long cultural exchange event -- "Tanzafest" -- in partnership with Hearts in Unity. Attending a presentation in the morning, they learned about life in the small villages of Tanzania, Africa. Captivated by the stories and photos, the students asked such thoughtful questions about their new friends at Seela Primary School in Tanzania. It was so heartwarming to see the connection of hearts that were made that day.

In the afternoon, the Amy Belle students reached out in friendship to the students in Seela, and made over 400 Swahili/English phrasebooks as a way to help their new Tanzanian friends learn English.

Special thanks to Diane M. for her dedication to the PTA and to the students, and for her help with organizing and coordinating this cultural sharing opportunity for all at Amy Belle School. To the PTA and the teachers for their encouragement and support, and to the many volunteers who helped the students assemble the books... we couldn't have done all of this without you. Thanks for opening your heart to students on both sides of the world.

Our sincere thanks also to Mr. Finger -- a principal who is clearly admired by both students and teachers for his vision for this school. The legacy you will leave when you retire next year will be the respect that you taught the students by example.

It was an amazing day!

Join us in watching this connection unfold... student to student and friend to friend.

video

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Child is Waiting for You

There are over 2.5 million orphans in Tanzania. Most of them have lost their parents due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but accidents and disease (cancer, malaria, etc.) also leave many orphaned children with relatives, often their grandparents to try to care for them and their siblings. Worse yet, they are abandoned and left to make their own way in the world as street children.

How can you help?

When you partner with a Tanzanian orphan through Hearts in Unity, you open up a new world of hope for these precious children. Through your ongoing communications as a pen pal and friend to your partner child, you can build a special bond of sharing, learning, caring and encouragement... a heart-to-heart relationship that will transform that child’s life... and yours.

There is a child waiting for you in the village of Mwika, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Do you have room in your heart?

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To learn more about connecting with an orphan pen pal in Tanzania, please visit our website at www.heartsinunity.org and click on the "How I can Help" tab.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Shipment of Blessings

Last September, we shipped nearly 1 ton (yes, 2,000 pounds!) of donated school supplies, teaching materials, books, clothing, sewing machines and more to the villages of Seela and Mwika in Tanzania.

It was a long journey! From Wisconsin to Iowa, boxes of donations then loaded into a shipping container. After 3 months of transport on the high seas, entry into the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, processing through customs, and another month of ground transportation within Tanzania, this shipment of blessings finally reached its destination.

And now, a gift back to us – a few wonderful photos and another email with so many thanks…this one from Mama Itikisaeli Sikawa – one of the 19 teachers at Seela Primary School.

“Its a great pleassure to get another chance of saying halloh (Habari yako wewe na familia na marafiki). Here at Seela Primary School, all teachers and pupils are extremly happy proceding with daily activities. Futhermore we received the rewards you sent to us. Teachers and pupils received the boxes with great joy seeing you (imaginary) though you were not there physically. How happy everry one felt. These shows how you love us. We do the same to you. Every one holded his or her reward in hand saying thanks Sue, GOD bless you. We also share the rewards with our neihbours school Sing'isi Primary School, and of course they thanked a lot saying may GOD bless you and all donars participated. We would like to say Good Easter to you and your family, pastor and all friends.”

Heartfelt thanks for the amazing generosity of all who made this shipment of love possible, including:

• The students of Ben Franklin School in Menomonee Falls for donating over 800 pounds of school supplies.

• The Girls Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast for making more than 400 Swahili/English textbooks for the students of Seela Primary School, and also for their generous school supply donations.

• The local dentists (We love Dr. Timothy Poser!), Girl Scout troops and youth groups who donated more than 1,200 toothbrushes – special thanks to the Freistadt 4H and the Germantown Youth Futures for their help with this project.

• Both adults and children, with a labor of love, who have sewn hundreds of fabric school bags for the students in Tanzania. Special thanks to those who donated their hand-sewn school bags through Bigsby's Sewing Center (Brookfield) and Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Menomonee Falls). Together, you have touched the hearts of both teachers and the children in Tanzania.

• The kind individuals who are helping to support the women of our Sewing Co-ops in the villages of Mwika and Seela. Many thanks for the sewing machine donations (from Sophie Schaarschmidt and Janet Wendtland), and for the abundanance of thread (a donation from Lori V's mom!). Thanks also to so many who donated yarn for the women of the Mwika Sewing Coop to use in knitting sweaters for the children of that village. Through all of these gifts you give the women employment and income opportunities so that they, too, can care for their children.

• The many generous friends, especially kind-hearted co-workers at Northwestern Mutual (Milwaukee), who helped donate over 600 pounds of clothing and shoes for not only the children, but also for the men and women in the villages.

Special thanks also to NAI-MLG Commercial (Milwaukee) and to Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Menomonee Falls) for the generous and much appreciated donations towards shipping costs both here and in Tanzania, and to UPS Corporate for their generosity and assistance with the transportation of the donations from Wisconsin to the shipping center in Iowa.

It is a testament to the amazing things we can accomplish to help the precious children of Tanzania when we join together with our hearts in unity.

Asante sana! Thank you very much!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Twitter! Do you?

Hearts in Unity has joined the Twitter community! Do you Twitter? Follow us through the Twitter feeds on the right-side bar of this blog, or stop by for a visit at http://twitter.com/heartsinunity and join us there.

We'd love to follow you, too! Send us a message of hello and let us know you are there, too!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Step by Step

The other day I went shopping for a new pair of shoes.

As I walked the aisles looking for my size, I was struck by the magnitude of it all. Floor to ceiling, wall after wall of shoe boxes filled with new shoes. Running shoes, walking shoes (is there special shoe for those of us interested in a periodic casual jog without the actual effort of a “run”?). And the prices! Seems like a pair of simple sneakers these days starts at about $75 a pair (I guess you could say I hadn’t been shopping for shoes in a while).

And in my musings of shoe selection and price my thoughts wandered – as often is the case – to Tanzania.

Walking with children along a rutted dirt road littered with stray sticks, stones and dry leaves. More than one child balancing on their head a bucket of water from the river, or a bundle of firewood as we carefully skirted deep crevices and potholes in the dirt road and each made our way home.


Glancing down at the children’s feet, I see shoes that are worn and full of holes; plastic sandals held together with string; sandals handmade from old tires; or more sadly, the child who doesn’t own a pair of shoes.


As I glance upward and see a pair of new $100 shoes on the shelf before me, I do a quick calculation. With the same $100, I could buy a dozen pair of sturdy shoes in Tanzania for the children – NEW shoes – not the USED shoes that so many Tanzanian parents buy for lack of money.

I think back again to the day last November when Roland and I went shopping for children’s shoes in Arusha, Tanzania. We were looking to purchase 100 pair of children’s shoes with the generation donations we received from so many “Hearts in Unity” supporters in the States. It took all day, but we finally accomplished what we had set out to do.


It was an amazing day when we distributed the shoes to the 100 orphan and at-risk children whom we had gathered together. The air was charged with anticipation as they waited so patiently. And on that day, 100 delighted children received brand new shoes!

What a blessing! Thanks to the kind hearts of so many people.

Yet, thousands of children in our Tanzanian villages are still without a single pair of proper shoes.

As I look down at the new pair of shoes I had selected for myself, I remind myself that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And with our first gift of shoes to the children of Tanzania we had taken our first step.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kudos to KMS Students!

A meal for the 1,000 students and their teachers at Seela Primary School in Tanzania! A meal large enough that even the pre-school age children in the village living near the school will be invited. Wow!

This amazing donation is from the 7th and 8th grade students in Mr. Demer’s six “Foods” classes at Kennedy Middle School (KMS) in Germantown.

Special thanks to the 7th grade students in the 5th hour/gold class for making the largest donation towards the meal for the children in Seela. Soon this class of KMS kids will be rewarded for their generosity and kind hearts with a special treat of maandazi – a Tanzanian fried bread much like donuts here.

Just a few weeks ago the KMS students participated in a “hands-on” cooking class featuring traditional Tanzanian food. Together in their classroom we made chapati – kneading it, rolling it into flat circles, and cooking the chapati on a griddle – while they listened to stories of life in Tanzania. We compared our meal preparation with that in Tanzania – electric griddles and easy access to water here vs. cooking over an open fire in Tanzanian with water fetched from the river.

The students then enjoyed a meal of chapati, ugali and a traditional Tanzanian vegetable stew. They loved the food!

The students asked amazingly insightful and thoughtful questions as they heard how the 1,000 children at Seela Primary (Elementary) School go without lunch each day. They learned how families in the village of Seela live in such poverty that they don’t even have a small bag of corn flour to send to the school so that ugali (a stiff porridge of corn flour and water) can be prepared as lunch for the students.

Moved by the stories they heard about the children of Tanzania, the 7th and 8th grade students donated from their hearts to help feed children in Tanzania….their generosity will touch the lives of well over 1,000 kids on the other side of the world!

Kudos to all of these amazing students!

"Piga Picha"

It was a beautiful sunny day in Seela, Tanzania. I’m playing with the children outside. A little boy, probably about 7 years old motions to me to follow him. He has a shy smile on his face and he speaks quickly and with a measure of determination. I pick out the Swahili words “njoo” (“come”) and “nyumbani” (“at home”). “You want me to come to your house? Mimi na wewe? Nyumbani yangu?”

He nods. So we go hand in hand. We walk down the road a short way and then down a dirt path to his home.

He shows me where the calabash are growing. “Piga picha” he says….”Take a picture” (by now, all of the children are well acquainted with the magic of my camera). I take a photo, show him the photo on the camera, and he nods.

We walk closer to the house. He takes me over to his brother and we greet each other… ”Hujambo Mama” ”Sijambo” “Habari za leo” “Nzuri, asante, nawe” “Salaam sana” “Asante”.

The little boy stands by the coffee tree where his brother is picking red, ripe coffee berries. “Piga picha” he says again. And I take a picture, delighted as he is with these photo opportunities. “Piga picha” again as he kneels down by the bucket of red coffee berries, and then as he stands first by the goat, and then in the doorway of his home, built of rough timber and a tin roof, gaps between the boards big enough to peer through.

Each time, he checks the camera to make sure I took the photos. Each time looking with a nod of confirmation and a shy smile.

He then pulls me by the hand, around to the back of the house.

I am not prepared for that I will see. My hand goes to cover my mouth as I stifle my unexpected intake of breath. The realization rocks me.

This is the little boy who people in the village had been talking about quietly in the days since my arrival in the village. This is the little boy whose mother had died the week before.

He had brought me to her grave.

“Mama Sue,” he said solemnly, almost a whisper, “piga picha.” It was my turn to nod.

As he stood there next to the rough wooden cross on which his mother’s name was painted, I silently complied with his simple request. “Piga picha.”

A picture of a little boy at his mother’s grave. That must have been how I looked as a child, standing at my own mother’s grave – 40 years earlier – when I was 7 years old.

The cycle of life and death never changing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Karibu Chakula!

Chapati, ugali, ndizi, chai....flat bread, thick cornmeal porridge, bananas, tea.

Traditional Tanzanian foods....staples of the Tanzanian diet.

Meal preparation is quite a process in Tanzania. Market day is typically once or twice a week, and people often walk for miles to get to the central marketplace.

Firewood must be gathered, and water fetched from the river before the actual meal preparations even begin. A chore for the children, carrying wood or a bucket of water which is balanced precariously on their head as they walk down the dirt path back home.

With no access to electricity, cooking is done outside over open fires -- with jicho (stones) to balance the cooking pot. Women tend to the fire for hours in preparing the food for the day. Dishes are washed with more water, fetched from the river, and heated over the fire. Quite a process...a labor of love, really.

So welcome to the preparation of a Tanzania meal! Karibu chakula!

Enjoy the video...

video

Be sure to check out the Tanzanian recipes on the right-hand column of the blog. We'd love to hear from those who have tried the ugali, chapati and Tanzanian vegetable stew!

NOTE: If the video does not play correctly here, please visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ano9mFZAdfc

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Second Sight

Do you remember where you were when you realized you needed glasses? Or when your child needed glasses?

I was about 10 years old, in 4th grade. We were at a major league baseball game. After about the umpteenth time asking what the score was and how many outs there were, my stepfather looked at me with a measure of exasperation, and asked the obvious, “It’s right there on the scoreboard. Can’t you see it?!”

Of course I could see the scoreboard. It was right there bigger than life – huge, formidable, out there in left field, and…..out of focus…..blurry as the house across the street at home when looking through the rain streaked front window.

And in the years since, I wonder how many pair of glasses I have worn as my eyesight changed. Who knows where all those old glasses ended up – discarded for that new, fashionable pair with a more suitable prescription. There was always a new pair when I needed them. I took those glasses for granted. I perhaps still do.

Fast forward to Tanzania 2008. I’m walking around Seela, a village located on the slopes of Mt. Meru. I’m visiting people in their homes. And everywhere I go, along the way I somehow meet the same woman. She’s dressed in traditional Tanzanian clothes, and her smile lights up her face as we greet each other. Hujambo. Sijambo mama. Habari. Salama sana. Nashukuru sana. Asante Mungu. Asante sana.

There’s something about her, though, and I can’t place my finger on it. But she does it for me. Literally. She takes her finger and puts it through the hole in the frame of her eyeglasses where a lens should be. That’s it. That’s what struck me….she’s wearing glasses. It’s an unusual sight in Tanzania…except for those who are fortunate to have employment and an income with which to buy eyeglasses.

Only after I get past that ah-ha moment, do I realize that she is still talking, finger still pointing to the missing lens. In her limited English she is asking, “Mama, I need new glasses. You will get them for me?” And I am speechless. I don’t know what to do.

I can’t take her to buy glasses. It is so important for peace in the village that the Mzungu (white person) not show favoritism for one person or one family – that all is done for the benefit of all people in the village. So I murmur….najua Mama, najua….I know, Mama, I know. And I tell her to talk to Mchungaji – the Pastor – and make her needs known to him….and that somehow God will provide. Mungu anakupenda.

We meet again and again around the village in the weeks that follow. Her request repeated each time. My response the same each time, but each time with lingering contemplations. I don’t believe I saw any of the 1,000 children at Seela Primary school wearing glasses. Can they all see the chalkboard at the front of the classroom? What about the older students going to secondary school? And the elderly? How many people in Tanzania are living their days without the clarity of sight.

God planted a little seed in my heart when I first met that women. The seed stayed there, tucked away safe and sound, and with a little time, and a measure of faith and trust it grew slowly. The first thoughts were fleeting…memories of the missing lens. Then, just as the clarity that comes from sight, an idea and a clear plan.

So that’s where we are now. Collecting used eyeglasses for the people in Seela and the surrounding villages. These will be hand carried when I return to Tanzania in November 2009, and shipped to the village on an ongoing basis after that. This is a project that the villagers can sustain on their own, taking care of each other and passing along the gift of sight that comes from the generosity of those on the other side of the world.

The villagers are excited about this project, and are eager to learn how to do simple eye exams, and to help both children and adults to select a pair of “new” glasses from the many that have already been and will be donated. The prescriptions might not be perfect, but what in God’s world is perfect? What matters is that we do all we can to care for each other, and this is an easy thing we can do to connect with the people of Tanzania and show that we care.

Do you have used eyeglasses to donate? What about sponsoring a used eyeglass collection through your church, school, or community group?

We CAN make a difference with the help of people who join together – with hearts in unity – to donate used eyeglasses for the children and adults in Tanzania. Let us know if you can help.

Tutaonana baadaye... “See” you later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Welcome to Tanzania!

Join us on an amazing journey as we explore life in Tanzania, Africa.

We’ll share stories of the struggles of daily life in the small, remote villages located on the slopes of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro – stories from people living in the 5th poorest country in the world.

Follow along as we reach out, with hearts in unity, to the people of Tanzania – especially to the orphans and other at-risk children who live their lives in heartbreaking poverty.

Celebrate with us as we partner with others in our efforts to help feed, clothe and educate the children of Tanzania.

Come back and visit us often, and share in the joy and delight as we move forward with determination in this mission, changing lives, one precious child at a time.

Mungu akubariki,
Sue and Roland