St. Martin’s Kids, a ministry of St. Mary’s Church, has partnered with St. Martin de Porres Orphanage Centre in an effort to improve daily life by providing a safe, nurturing environment for the children living there.
The St. Martin de Porres Orphanage Centre is located in Sumbawanga, Tanzania and houses approximately 70 children, ages newborn to 6 years. Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa provide care, and more importantly LOVE!
Our ministry began in 2009 with the simple request to help build a security wall around the orphanage to protect the children from wandering off, vandalism of property and crops, and thievery.
Our contact at the orphanage, Godwin Mzurikwao reports things at the orphanage are going well. I asked Godwin about how the children come to be at the orphanage. He said the Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Africa set up the orphanage for children 3 and younger, who currently makeup 70% of the kids. Godwin states they are there primarily because the mothers have died in child birth or are mentally impaired and lack extended family to take the babies. In some cases, it is economic hardship. Also common is taking in albino children.
The city of Sumbawanga is located in the Southern Highlands province in western Tanzania. Godwin stated 2023 has been a good year for the province’s mostly agrarian economy due to favorable weather. Inflation this year is impacting the economy overall and the orphanage operation, just like in the USA. The orphanage grows several crops for sale and their own consumption. They are not yet self sufficient however. They do generate income but mostly depend on a couple of international partners, such as St. Mary’s, the government, the local diocese, and the order of Our Lady Queen of Africa for operational funding. Please know that St. Mary’s is a very important partner. They need us.
Our contact person in Tanzania, Godwin Mzurikwao, reports the summer harvest of sunflower seeds and corn which are grown inside the security wall which surrounds the orphanage complex. The crops are grown for sale and self consumption. Some crops are fed to the 3 cows on sight. The cows produce the milk for the children and methane used in the kitchen ovens.
The orphanage is now up to 39 children, 10 of whom are under 1 year of age, 8 more who are under 2 years old. Part of St. Mary’s summer funding goes to purchase baby formula. The orphanage is an apostolate of the Diocese of Sumbawanga and is run by 4 sisters from the religious order Our Lady Queen of Africa. There are eleven locals(called mamas) who help with the child care, as well as others who take care of the livestock, clean and cook, and provide security.
The orphanage is located in the Sumbawanga in the Southern Highlands district of western Tanzania. Sumbawanga has a population of 209,000 people. St. Mary’s entered into a partnership with the Diocese of Sumbawanga in 2009 when it adopted St. Martin’s as a ministry of the parish. The beginning of the story, however, was in 2008 when a parishioner was contacted by a Christian missionary friend in Tanzania seeking help for the orphanage. Four local women, armed with nothing but good will, formed a committee to try to do something to help. From there, it has been a great story and testament to the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s been a great blessing for our parish.
Time for a Kitchen Update!
Now that the Biogas System is providing a clean energy source for meal preparation, time for a kitchen spruce up!! Removal of old wood stoves, repair work, new tiles, and a coat of fresh paint!
December is the end of the school year in Sumbawanga. And of course that includes a celebration with the youngest students!!
2017 proved to be a busy year for St. Martin’s Kids as we strive to improve the conditions and sustainability at St. Martin’s Orphanage.
Here is a recap:
- One significant improvement was the installation of a biogas system that furnishes cooking fuel for meal preparation. This has been a great time and cost saver, as well as improving the respiratory health of the women cooking, since fumes are not being inhaled from the previously used wood stoves.
- 3 cows were purchased not only for milk, but to produce the necessary ingredient in the manufacture of the methane fuel.
- The mamas now have uniforms to wear while working at the orphanage and can save their own clothes from the wear and tear that comes from caring for the children.
- Grain was purchased after harvest, when prices are low, and stored in the silos. This grain will provide an entire year’s worth of nutrition for the children living at St. Martin’s.
- Your continuous support supplied funds to purchase new clothing, new mattresses, bedding, and mosquito netting.
- The hiring of two new teachers for pre-school, kindergarten, and religious education.
Every year SMK consults with Sr. Helena as to what improvements are needed at the orphanage. This year the goals include:
- grain purchase after harvest to be stored in the silos
- bonuses for the mama’s who care for the children
- 2 new cows,
- a pre-paid medical card so that the children can be treated at the local hospital when the need arises; this is similar to a debit card
- a biogas system
What is a Biogas System? Most people in Tanzania use wood and charcoal as a fuel source for cooking. The high consumption of wood and charcoal contributes to deforestation and soil degradation. The benefits of biogas includes low cost energy for cooking and a reduction of air pollution. Agriculture improves through the use of potent bio-slurry as a fertilizer.
Biogas originates from bacteria in the process of bio-degradation of organic material under anaerobic (without air) conditions. Methanogens (methane producing bacteria) are the last link in a chain of micro-organisms which degrade organic material and return the decomposition products to the environment. The purchase of 2 new cows, in addition to the ones already at the orphanage, will contribute to the organic matter needed to feed the bio-digester.
The biogas produced will be used as cooking fuel for food preparation and further the sustainability of the orphanage.
One of our budget items for 2015 was the purchase of grains for a year and construction of metal silos for grain storage.
Grain is purchased in large nylon or burlap sacks that must be aired once a month to remove bugs, mold, mildew, or other insects that render the grain inedible. Approximately 30-40% of harvested grain is lost each year due to improper storage.
Metal silos provide an airtight environment that will allow the grain to remain bug and mildew free and provide food for the children.
St. Martin’s Kids partnered with Grace Community Development & Education, under the guidance of Mike Caraway and Martin Houle, and the Diocese of Sumbawanga to train local artisans in the fabrication of metal silos for grain storage. Training was conducted by Benjamin Njue of CYMMT. Ben traveled from Kenya to facilitate this event, that not only provides food the children at St. Martin’s, but also has empowered these local artisans with a skill that will allow them to earn a living and help in reducing the food shortage in the area.
Training took place May 1-9, 2015.
The St. Martin Kid’s Team meets once a month.
We would love to have you join us.
For details contact Chris Casselman @ email@example.com
We have several events throughout the year. Stay tuned for more information.