Continuing Progress

1 October 2010

Knocking Out Myths

We held our 3rd annual Life Skills-HIV/AIDS seminar this past month for the Rau community.  There was an amazing turn out of about 250 attendees, roughly 100 more than last year.  We divided the participants into groups by age and gender, including an adult women group and for the first time, adult men.  Two local women’s groups participated as well: a business group and a support group for HIV positive women.

And this year for the first time, we held a second seminar at the Kilimahewa Educational Center, located in a village outside of Moshi town.  To our amazement, 100 people attended!  Kim and I were so thrilled to be reaching new people and gaining yet another perspective.  We planned this seminar differently, in that we divided the participants into two groups: young adults and adults, with the genders mixed.  There was incredible discussion in both groups and it proved to be another successful seminar.

In both locations we discussed a myriad of topics ranging from self-esteem, goal planning, and gender roles to family planning, STDs, HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention, and basic reproductive health.  Some new topics added this year for the adults were abusive relationships and responsible parenting.  The seminars were taught by peer educators (aged 22-25) from a new local NGO called YOCOSO.  As is the case every year, they impressed us with their professionalism, knowledge, and ability to engage the participants.

Some of most interesting questions and statements we heard during the seminars were: “If sperm don’t carry HIV how can it be transmitted to a baby?”; “Do only certain blood types get HIV?”; “If I can get malaria from a mosquito – can mosquitoes also transmit HIV?”; “If my spouse is too drunk to remember we had sex – is it rape?”; “If a husband has HIV and the wife doesn’t – how is that possible?”; In response to asking why so many men refuse to wear condoms – “do you eat candy with the wrapper on?”  We spent a significant amount of time on basic biology, of which the knowledge was extremely lacking.  It just reconfirmed how critical education really is.

The cost of holding a seminar like this is approximately $300 per 150 people.  This cost includes lunch for all attendees, photocopies of learning materials, all seminar supplies, and transport costs for the teachers along with a small payment.  We hope to get more funding for these seminars and continue to expand to new locations next year.  These seminars are Knock’s way of breaking down myths and empowering people with knowledge to lead a healthy life.

We are looking for donors to sponsor seminars and if you are interested please go to our website ( and donate now!

Knock on Wood Continued

The construction is progressing well – all of the roofs are up, the windows and doorframes in, and the plastering well underway.  Due to some delays in purchasing materials the completion date has been pushed back to October 16th.  We are starting to choose paint colors, tiles, flooring, and place orders for the furniture!  There were some days we wished we had an Ikea or Costco but between the giant steel factory and the tiny 10 square-foot wood working shop, we have placed our orders and paid our deposits.

The energy saving stove was installed last weekend; it will use a fraction of the amount of firewood and funnel the fumes through a chimney instead of into our mamas’ lungs.  We will also be utilizing solar panels for the primary source of electricity.  There will be running water, flushing toilets, sinks and last but certainly not least according to the kids – showers! The kids have been able to watch this process unfold in real time and we are so excited for the day that it becomes a reality – their home.  Equally excited is Mama Lucy, the matron, who upon seeing her new space said she would be “fat, happy and living in luxury!”

We laughed the other day with our architect after asking him to look into some colorful paints and inquired if he had ever built a building with two white women; he smiled and said no, but that he was enjoying it.  We have been looked at like we have three heads when we inquired about using brown concrete for the floors instead of what was suggested – blue or green?!  We are definitely pushing people outside their box – and we are certain we will have good results.

Teen Insight Grad Returns to Tanzania

Sara Hilecher, a participant in last year’s Insight trip to Tanzania, along with a new Knock volunteer, Cooper Haskins, returned to Tanzania in August to work with Knock and Mrupanga Primary School.  They held similar workshops with the students as last year, focusing primarily on the good qualities about themselves.  They also spent a day with the teachers, during which each teacher was given the opportunity to speak her dreams for the school and its students.  They again watered their dream tree to reaffirm the intention for all their dreams coming true in the year to come.  In addition, Sara and Cooper collected and brought 300 pieces of clothing to donate to the students, teachers, and children at Matumaini.  They also assisted us with the Life Skills Seminar and were happy just experiencing what life is like here in Tanzania.  It was a great privilege to have two such hard-working young ladies and we are looking forward to hosting another Teen Insight group next summer.


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