Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Please Help to Save Lives in Narumu Village, Tanzania

I have been working on this nonprofit project for a while now, finally everything is put together and I can introduce it to my friends and ask you all to help.

This is a very specific nonprofit, it aims to help the pregnant mothers in a remote village from Tanzania. The name of the village is Narumu, it's on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The village has more than 226,000 residents, averagely 23 newborns everyday, but zero health care for women and newborns, there is not even one clinic equipped enough to deliver babies. Women and babies often die from simple infection occurred during birth. If there is unforeseen complication, there is not enough time to reach the hospital 50 miles away because no road and no transportation.

When I gave birth to Shiva at Alta Bates hospital in 2014, I stayed there a few days for recovery, that was when I met Dorothy Mboya, the woman from the village of Narumu, who desperately wants to help her people back in Tanzania. Dorothy was a nurse for postpartum at Alta Bates, she was telling everyone about her initiative and trying to get help. While checking my temperature and giving me painkillers, I also got to know her story.

It is not easy for a woman like her to start up a nonprofit organization. Believe it or not, there was no lack of people who tried to take advantage of her. To file the company registration documents, she paid 3000 dollars to someone who barely helped. A friend of a co-worker promised to open an Etsy account for the handcrafts made by women in Narumu, but ran away with the whole suitcase of precious handmade jewelries worth of 2000 dollars. However Dorothy wasn't put down and she did not stop trying.

To stick with a nonprofit at its very early stage, it requires a lot of commitment, also money out of own pocket. People come and go, progress was extremely slow. I was willing to contribute but limited by my experience. I remember we sent out bunch of emails to professors in Berkeley and Stanford in related fields, seeking advices and help. Most of them didn't reply, some of the replies were heartbroken. Luckily one professor replied to Sabrina, who is my best friend and a PhD student in Stanford, and he was willing to meet us. I had newly acquired the skill of driving around that time, and was still scared of driving on highways, but there was no other options, we had to go. Dorothy was watching the road and map for me, only a few months old Shiva was crying his heart out in the back seat, my hands were sweaty, my head was exploding. There were many trucks over passed us and horned us. Fortunately we made it to Stanford and back safely, it was also a very fruitful meeting with the professor.

The video I made of Dorothy telling her story. We recorded the video in Live Oak Park with my cellphone. Shiva was wrapped up on me so I had two hands to hold the cellphone. You can even hear Shiva cooing during the recording. 

After all this time, only Sabrina and I stayed and are still trying. We are still not sure about how to host the fundraising events, but at least all the information is put up together and that is sufficient to start with. We are raising money to build a Labor and Delivery Center for the 226,000 and more people in Narumu. You may not believe, but living cost in such areas is actually very high, because everything is imported. Therefore we break the project into four phases, for now we are acquiring $80,000 to make a very simple L&D center, only a few rooms with very basic equipment, so to give women a clean place to deliver babies, save their lives from infections. We are also raising money for preparing maternity bags to give to mother-to-be, the bag includes at least 3 months supply of prenatal vitamins, thermometer, bulb syringe, clothes diapers etc such basic postpartum care products. The cost of each bag is around $60.

If you want to know more details, please check our website

The name of the organization is Tujenge Maisha, which means "Let's build lives". It is IRS registered. 

What can you do to help?

-- Share our stories and help rise awareness

-- Donate through Paypal  
    click here  or  send directly to

-- Donate used baby stuff - receiving blankets, clothes diapers, baby clothes, small toys etc (please contact me or Sabrina directly)

-- Contact us with advices or connection

-- Join us with your compassion and expertise 

Watch more videos about Narumu and Tujenge Maisha initiative

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