Building a safe haven for Mama Tabu and children of Arusha

Building a safe haven for Mama Tabu and children of Arusha

By Charish Badzinski

Kelli Solsma, president of Project Rehema Ministries, says knowing Mama Tabu has been humbling —because in Tanzania, even having faith can be a challenge. “Faith is easy to have when everything is going good. True faith comes in when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.”

In a country where too many children live without the basics of life, including shelter, Project Rehema provides safe housing. In 2019 the organization partnered with Mama Tabu and now, in collaboration with Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Jean Ann Rausch as ministry grant sponsor, Project Rehema is breaking ground on a modest home in a safe neighborhood for Mama Tabu and the children who depend on her.

Building huge, beautiful complexes for children like those who Mama Tabu cares for has backfired for other charitable organizations for a variety of reasons. Project Rehema takes another approach: building simple, safe homes and striving to keep families together. To that end, building modest homes is essential. “We keep them modest because we want them to blend in with their environment. They’re pretty rustic, but they’re concrete, with two bedrooms with bunk beds, living quarters and a  bathroom and kitchen, both outside,” Kelli explains. Each home also has access to a waterline.

Building a safe haven for Mama Tabu and children of ArushaBuilding a safe haven for Mama Tabu and children of Arusha
Photos courtesy of Project Rehema Ministries

Mama Tabu’s group is one of 18 family units under the Project Rehema umbrella, caring for a total of 118 children. This home represents the seventh built by Project Rehema since 2015. “I’m so incredibly grateful for FSPA’s partnership,” Kelli says.

Each home costs about $10,000 USD, depending on the land, where it is located and the cost of transporting building supplies. Project Rehema has undertaken some stunning logistics to get the job done, none of them easy. Without heavy equipment, cement has to be hand mixed. But even finding water to mix concrete can be a challenge, necessitating the employment of donkeys to transport water from afar. 

“It’s a nice, big slice of humble pie every time I go there because the people are amazing. They are the most joyful, faith-filled people I have ever met. They would give you their last slice of bread.”

Kelli says, “What they’ve taught me, you can’t buy. They’ve taught me how precious and important life is, and how precious faith is. They’ve taught me what’s truly important in life.”

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