News from Deb in Tanzania

You may recall that the Principal’s Club met last week and came up with lots of questions for Deb in Tanzania. Her school, The Olive Branch for Children Montessori Academy, is closed due to COVID 19 but she and her husband are homeschooling their 68 children. The club members were intrigued by this (as were the staff!) and Deb took the time to answer their questions about what it’s like to care for such a big family. Deb also sent along a picture of two of her beautiful children – Mlombwa and Kenneth. (Kenneth is the latest addition to Deb’s family.) Mlombwa is studying to be a Chemistry and Biology Teacher at The University of Dar-es-Salaam.  She is home for the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Dear Marie and the entire CGS community,

We continue to be healthy and busy. Our kids were over the moon with the wonderful messages your community sent in your last email. I read your email to them at dinner and they were very moved to feel the love from the other side of the world. They sent their own messages:

“Thank you so much for the kindness.”
“We hope you are safe and healthy.”
“We hope to meet you all someday.”
“Tunakupenda na tunakujali (We love you and we care about you – in Kiswahili)

Here are the answers to your questions:

“Have you ever thought of having an election in your family, kind of like Student Government, where you elect a Mayor and counsellors to help run the household?”

We have never had an election. All our kids gravitate to the roles within our household that best suit them. We have natural leaders, who take the lead when it comes to activities and games but, we work like a community. Everyone supports each other and tries to bring out the best in each other. There are so many different issues that we have to deal with in our home and every individual has their specific passions and skills. Also, since we all live together, we have a strong sense of what works for our home. Therefore, we make unanimous decisions as a family.

“Were there any songs in the play or just dialogue?”
There was dialogue and some dancing at the end. We have a little choir that sings songs on Thursdays. We call it Thursday Tunes. I am happy share the videos with you.

“Are the kids helpers in your family?”
Everyone helps. We all know this household cannot work, if we don’t all chip in.

“Did the kids need help writing the script for the play?”
They brought drafts to our high school students to correct and then I corrected the final draft. I gave them some suggestions but it really was their show!

“How do you take care of so many children?”
We work as a team. I try to be fun, fair and loving. I empower our older kids to manage certain aspects of the home. And, during normal times, I have a staff that helps with keeping the environment clean and with the cooking.

“How many beds do you have in your house?”
Many, many beds. We have beds for 68 kids.

“How do you afford so many children?”
We work hard to raise enough funds. We have an incredible international family that supports us. Also, we make sure to be effective with the money we raise.

“How big is your house?”
We have a large compound on 2 acres with 6 structures and a play space.

“How many bathrooms do you have?” (This seemed to be of particular interest…wondering how you could possibly accommodate the bathroom needs of so many).
8 bathrooms

“How is Kenneth doing?”
He is growing up so quickly and is very cheeky.

Lots of love from all of us,