Warren Woman’s Club discusses Majengo Orphanage

President Tana Fegely welcomed members to the April 22 luncheon meeting of the Warren Woman’s Club.

Matt McKissock and Ann Ferguson of Warren gave a presentation on the Majengo Orphanage in Tanzania.

In March 2008 when ICA Tanzania project coordinator Charles Luoga took Canadian volunteer Lynn Connell to visit 52 little kids squeezed into the dark and leaking, mud-floored foyer of someone’s house, which was set up as a makeshift daycare. It was an orphanage of sorts, but in such terrible condition it had been refused official orphanage status. They had no furniture, no books or resources except for one teacher offering his time voluntarily, and a few neighbor women who came by to cook lunch – in most cases the only food the children would receive all day.

These were the poorest of the poor children in the district of Majengo, an agricultural community just outside the rural village of Mto Wa Mbu, Arusha, Tanzania. Connell and Luoga committed themselves to starting an orphanage for these children. Connell went back to Canada and raised enough money to relocate the children.

One year later, in March 2009, 27 children moved into their beautiful new home, with new beds, sheets, towels, an outdoor kitchen, showers, toilets and playground.

The new orphanage opened officially in March 2009 as Matt McKissock and Ian Ashbaugh from Warren flew into Tanzania to see for themselves the terrible conditions Connell had described in her fundraising efforts. After returning to the U.S., they formed the Warren Majengo Foundation, with IRS charitable status and a promise that the McKissock family and friends would completely take over Majengo Orphanage operating expenses for one year.

In late December 2010 the government swept in and shut down five orphanages, bringing 67 children over to Majengo, thus recognizing the Majengo Orphanage as the only official government-approved orphanage in the district.

The children from the five other orphanages came with nothing – no clothing, shoes or belongings. The staff worked around the clock washing kids and clothing, cooking and feeding. Children, who had been eating garbage off the street, stampeded the kitchen, desperate for good food, coming back for seconds and thirds. The first time they were served chicken, they thought they were being poisoned, having never tasted meat before!

Today, the Majengo Orphanage fully supports the basic needs of 134 children, between the ages of 3 and 16, with food, housing, medical, needs, education and clothing. Currently, 77 children live inside the orphanage, and 37 live with relatives and friends, spending every day at Majengo.

The Majengo staff consists of 18 local people, most of whom have cared for the children from the beginning. The staff was chosen to be honest, capable and committed to their jobs. They love the children as their own.

The commitment is to provide the children the opportunity to grow in a safe, healthy, loving home, and to provide education for each child as needed from pre-school through university. For more information go to Majengo.org.

After lunch, Fegely reported on club business. Christa Williams was thanked for the beautiful new dining room alcove ceiling light and its installation and the members were brought up to date on the leak in the ballroom ceiling.

President Fegely thanked past officers, and welcomed new officers. A brief summary was given of the programs and events of the past year. The club now looks forward to the Spring Fashion Show & Luncheon on May 6 and its Centennial Gala Banquet on May 18.

Fegely acknowledged past presidents Elizabeth Horsley and Nan Cashman who were in attendance. Members who died in the past year Marjorie Lopez, Janyce Bunk, Constance Robertson and Jeannine Loranger were eulogized.

A few of the board members gave a brief explanation of their accomplishments. Suzi Painter welcomed 11 new members, and Peggy Morgan, chairman of ESHPG ,announced the winners of three scholarships.

New president, Judy Champlain, was installed with the symbolic Key, “a representative token of your new position of chief care-giver, overseer, mother, delegator, all-round go-to person, president.”

The Warren Woman’s Club always welcomes new members. For more information, call 723-5910.