As Australia moves towards Spring and a hoped-for easing of pandemic lockdowns in several states, Lengo has remained busy behind the scenes and continued to press ahead in Tanzania despite the ravages of COVID-19.
Lengo recorded a landmark success in July when one of our graduates, Goodluck Noah, a student footballer and Lengo coach, realised his lifelong dream of becoming a fully-fledged, registered medical doctor. A phenomenal achievement for Goodluck and feather in Lengo’s cap.
And we helped our pioneering women’s team, Lengo Lady Lions, who won the honour of representing Arusha in a national football championship, travel hundreds of miles to Dodoma, where they excelled on debut by reaching the quarter-finals as one of the top eight teams from among the best female footballers in the country. An incredible achievement too.
With your help we have also been able to continue supporting our students through school and helping with community initiatives and paying coaches to keep our 200 players in training every day. This is at a time when not only there are the challenges of coronavirus and resulting damage to the economy and community life, but when Tanzania had also to cope with the shocking sudden death of its president of six years, John Magufuli.
Goodluck, working at Mount Meru Hospital, has seen at close quarters the increasing devastation wrought by the Delta strain of coronavirus in Africa, where less than 1 per cent of people have been vaccinated.
Directly treating COVID sufferers, Goodluck himself contracted the virus a few months ago and had to be hospitalised for several days but survived. He has antibodies as a result but, with little vaccine to go around, by early August had still not been vaccinated. Supplies of J&J vaccine have been received from the US, enough for front line medics and vulnerable elderly, Goodluck said by text message from Arusha that he was scheduled to be vaccinated by late August.
Goodluck said that although his hospital had limited vaccine, oxygen and ventilators, it was not enough, and many people were dying. He sees around 70 patients a day and performs complicated surgeries.
In Australia, with your help, we continue to do what we can to lend support. Long lockdowns in Victoria and now New South Wales and other states have badly affected the economy and prevented self-funded travel to Tanzania which usually happens every year.
Against this backdrop our Lengo Lady Lions brought great joy, their courage and skill producing a phenomenal achievement as Arusha’s proud representative at the national women’s tournament in Dodoma in July. Against 23 of the top teams from every region of Tanzania, in games broadcast live on national TV throughout Tanzania, Lengo Lady Lions stepped up to reach the quarter-finals, led by team captain Angel, who among others impressed premier league teams’ scouts.
Here is the videofrom the team thanking everyone for the opportunity.
This ground-breaking success, in a strongly patriarchal mainly Maasai community, has done wonders to continue to change gender role preconceptions, attracting positive publicity and interest on the ground from other socially disadvantaged female and male players wanting to join Lengo. It has also meant that, as the playing standard increases with the help of our hardworking coaches, it is necessary to look further afield for competition, increasing costs.
Still, we have been able to maintain our School Kick Starter Program, the bedrock of what we do at Lengo, either fully or partly supporting more than 60 students.
In 2022 we will have around 80 students supported through school. Seventeen students completed secondary school recently. Eleven qualified to go on to two years of high school and, if successful, university beyond, while six qualified for important vocational training, a vital pathway out of endemic unemployment. In each case, costs need to be supported to keep these young people on their pathway of achievement.
A little more than A$100 pays for tuition, books, lunches and uniform – everything needed for secondary and high school students for a whole year, while tertiary vocational training is more expensive, but still as little as only around A$550 to cover all student needs for an entire year.
To pro-actively seek new funding contributors we have been delighted to welcome Kristine Daw to our team of dedicated Lengo volunteers. Kristine is an experienced tender and grant writer with connections in the corporate world who will hopefully want to support the fantastic work of Lengo.
We acknowledge it is a difficult time socially and economically for everyone in our pandemic world, and remain eternally grateful to you our donors and supporters. With your help we can bring fairness and joy to incredibly deserving and underserved people doing it tough, and help fulfil dreams by offering a pathway to the next Goodluck and the next Lengo Lady Lions so they may in turn uplift their community.
Thank you and be blessed.