Getting Things Done

Dec 14th, 2013 | By | Category: Newsletters, Updates

 

Melki Mushi, the Okaseni chairperson, looks happily at the property and building that the AVPA has purchased. The building is being renovated as a dispensary.

Melki Mushi, the Okaseni chairperson, looks happily at the property and building that the AVPA has purchased. The building is being renovated as a dispensary.

“In the West, you have a plan for the day. You go out to do this plan and it gets done. But in Africa, it doesn’t always work out that way.”

Tumaini Minja told us this on our first trip to help Okaseni Village in September 2007. Tumaini was our initial contact with the village and is now a dear friend. He gave us invaluable assistance for several years – the AVPA could not have done its work without him.

I have thought many times about his words over the last year or so. You may remember that during our 2010 trip, we set up a dispensary in a room that the owner let us use in her house near the office. However, when we returned to the village in 2012, we found out that the dispensary was no longer operating in the house because the owner wanted to be paid by the villagers. (Check out the September 7, 2012, posting for more info.) It was now in a very tiny room in the village office – not the ideal situation.

What to do?

Salma Khatibu, our assistant in Okaseni, had a brainwave – she suggested that we buy some land in the village. Dale and I thought this was a great idea! As foreigners, we could not personally buy land in Tanzania. But we could form a sister organization to the AVPA in Tanzania, and it could buy the land. Our own land meant that AVPA projects now on the village office land could continue, even if Melki, the current village chairperson, was ever voted out. Projects such as the coffee nursery and raising chickens would not be vulnerable to a new government.

Tumaini Minja, our Okaseni contact, visited us on Bowen Island in June 2008. He and Dale took a trip to Whistler and stopped at Shannon Falls on the Sea to Sky Highway.

Tumaini Minja, our Okaseni contact, visited us on Bowen Island in June 2008. He and Dale took a trip to Whistler and stopped at Shannon Falls on the Sea to Sky Highway.

Our own land also meant the potential for other businesses. For example, a coffee and souvenir shop could be set up because for the first time ever, occasional tourist vans are going through Okaseni. I was so surprised when I saw the first van in 2012 that I could not even wave. This is a golden opportunity to bring some income to the village.

We were very excited to find a 1/2-acre lot for sale just steps away from the village office – a prime location. It included a building that was structurally sound although in some disrepair. The price was reasonable and the owner patient. The process to purchase the land began. First, we had to set up the sister organization, to be called the Africa Village Project Trust (Tanzania). This step involved creating a constitution, which Tumaini undertook to do. (Thanks, Tumaini!) After several months of painstaking work – all by email – the constitution for the AVPT was finalized on Dec 27, 2012.

Unfortunately, a personal tragedy put the work on hold for several months. But in March, we all forged ahead. The next step was to get Dale and me on the AVPT (Tanzania) constitution as new trustees. Again, Tumaini took charge of this step and on May 2, 2013, we were registered. Next, Salma had to find a lawyer in Moshi who handled land transfers. (Thanks, Salma!) We then wired the funds to Melki. (Thanks, Melki!) The owner was to come from Dar es Saalam to close the deal, but couldn’t make it, so her daughter represented her. Finally, on August 16, 2013, the deal was finalized and the land was purchased!!

Pic_3_Salma

Salma Khatibu has been a valued member of the AVPA since 2008. She handles the grants program and is our chief liaison with Okaseni.

In the meantime, we had requested a proposal from the village for the use of the land and eventually approved the third one submitted to us. The villagers proposed renovating the existing structure as a dispensary, and building an internet café and a vocational centre for training youths. We okayed the renos, kept the internet café idea as a possibility for the future, but nixed the training centre as far beyond our capabilities. We sent them all the funds that we had (about $ 5,500) on October 29th. The renovations are now in progress.

It has taken over a year to get to this point, but we are so pleased! We send our heartfelt thanks to Tumaini, Melki and Salma, whose dedication and hard work got the purchase done. As we say in the West, better late than never!

If you would like to help the dispensary renovations, you can donate on the AVPA website. You’ll be helping to improve the health of the Okaseni children and villagers and to make life better for them. Thanks!

 

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