Latest news – July 2011

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As we moved into 2011, it was hard to imagine that just a year and a half ago Tilinanu didn’t even exist. Now, thanks to your support, all 35 princesses are so happy, healthy, smiling and working on creating better futures for themselves. They send you their thanks, love and wishes for a very happy new year.

The girls had an amazing Christmas, having opened their first Xmas presents. Like small children they seemed more interested in the wrapping than the present, although in this case because they didn’t actually realize there was a present inside! I’ve tried to capture for you the excitement on their faces when they found a doll within the newspaper bundle. Revealing their gratitude and appreciation, they immediately began working on clothing for the dolls and had knitted nearly a full wardrobe by Boxing Day.

 

They also decorated a tree for the first time, making paper decorations, which each hung on the tree with their own personal wishes. Showing what kind, beautiful girls they are, there were no wishes for toys, money or material things. Each wished another girl to have a very happy 2011.

We organised a pre-Christmas party for any relatives the girls still have, which brightened their already shining spirits. Family travelled from as far as three hours away – no mean feat in Africa with no transport or money – and were treated to a singing concert by the girls and a lunch of rice and chicken. It has always been our aim to maintain any family connections the girls still have, to give them a stronger sense of belonging.

Christmas Day itself was their best ever. After a community church service full of singing and dancing, the festivities continued back at Tilinanu with a children’s party. The girls played musical statues, sleeping lions and ‘pass the parcel’ for the first time. You only need to plant the seed though to get the girls into full on party mode. They were soon teaching us playground games and putting any UK dance floor moves to shame with their jaw dropping African dancing.

They certainly worked up an appetite, but far from stuffing down a roast dinner, Christmas lunch consisted of plain pasta and a goat donated by a local businessman – a real treat, as they’d never tasted either before.

 

The biggest Christmas present though was the electricity finally being switched on at Tilinanu, after a year battling illogical African protocols. The difference it will mean to the girls is huge. As extremely studious girls, they can now carry on reading after dark, we can start computer lessons on the laptops you donated, and the girls feel safer!

In other news…

  • All 35 princesses of Tilinanu have now been HIV tested and are all negative. Yay!
  • Tilinanu gained exposure on national TV in Malawi, after the local Rotary club organised a feature on their sponsorship link
  • The girls have been approached to sing on a national radio show, having impressed producers so much with their amazing voices. Ellen in particular has been singled out as a potential future radio star!
  • We have built drainage around the building and a covered porch to cope with severe rains
  • The clinic built this summer is now painted, with talks taking place with local hospitals to begin outreach clinics
  • The monthly food budget has been increased to introduce fish to their diet
  • More moves towards making Tilinanu self-sufficient have been made, such as the increased planting of potatoes, cabbages and beans
  • Trees germinated by the girls last year, donated by the Permaculture Centre have been planted
  • We have built a bread oven to bake and sell bread to the local community and village shop, whilst also improving the girls diet
  • A clothes market stall in aid of Tilinanu is run once a month by volunteers
  • Pigs are now reared which generates an income for Tilinanau as well as educating the girls in agricultural skills
  • Out of 186 children in standard 4 at their local school, 8 of our girls were awarded the top marks in their schools reports. All the girls have improved greatly, as remarked by the Headteacher.

The New Year has definitely started on a positive note. Perhaps the following quote from Uncle, father to all the girls and original founder of Tilinanu with wife Mercy, best sums up the excitement surrounding the girls’ futures:

People are noticing these girls are disciplined at school and church. They differ from other girls. Our desire is for them to have a happy life, a good future, an education. If they are educated, no-one can snatch it from these girls. Education and love is the key to everything on this planet.

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Tilinanu loves you xxx

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