Martha Deegan: To Tanzania With Love

What do you do if you’ve been a Fairfield County lawyer for 30 years, but your son teaches in Tanzania and says he needs help building a school?

If you’re Martha Deegan you close your practice, and head to Africa.

Once there, you meet a young engineer from Indiana. You join forces, and build a home for orphans.

You become a missionary, sponsored by Westport’s United Methodist Church.

You work with a children’s home called Kwetu Faraja — “our comforting home.” You welcome Christians, Jews, Muslims, and boys with animist beliefs. You serve over 1,000 street children with medicine, food, clothing and emergency advocacy.

Martha Deegan, with some of the boys she's helped. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

Martha Deegan, with some of the boys she’s helped. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

You raise money for a solar project in the village, Kahunda. You are proud that there’s now electricity, and potable water. You develop a 35-acre farm for them, on the shores of Lake Victoria.

You live in Weston, but every year you go back to the village for a few months. You form relationships with people there.

You are appalled that they live in mud huts with straw roofs, without running water. You are impressed by their openness, generosity and loving spirit.

You know you can’t do everything. But you help a few kids — some as young as 4, sleeping in garbage bags on cardboard on the mean streets of Mwanza — by offering them a chance for an education at your school. You know that even though education is “free” in Tanzania, many youngsters cannot afford their required uniform, books or the interest they must pay on their desk.

Boys at , with a goat. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

Boys at Kwetu Faraja , with a goat. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

You turn to your next project: raising $22,500 to buy a tractor and farm implements. Right now, land is sown entirely by hand. You want the farmers, and the boys at the orphanage, to become self-sufficient.

Then, if you are Martha Deegan, you ask “06880” readers to help. You have faith that your neighbors will understand that you can’t do everything.

But you know that — especially in this season of giving — they (like you) will do whatever they can.

(Donations can be made for scholarships and for the tractor by clicking here. You can also send a check to Kwetu Faraja, 223 West 12th Street, Anderson, IN 46016-1331.)

As young boys swim in Tanzania, older ones keep watch for crocodiles and poisonous snakes. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

As young boys swim in Tanzania, older ones keep watch for crocodiles and poisonous snakes. (Photo/Thor Deegan)

2 responses to “Martha Deegan: To Tanzania With Love

  1. Wonderful article about a very special woman who has also helped many in our own community too.

  2. Katherine Bruan

    unbelievable. thank you martha for making the world a little brighter 🙂