In Tanzania, there has been 300 cases of COVID-10 and 10 confirmed deaths. However, testing is really not very widespread and so we imagine actual infection numbers to be much higher. A few weeks back we had one of the hardest calls of our lives, whether to book ourselves up on what looked like one of the last flights out of Tanzania or to stay put.

Thanks so much for holding us in your prayers, we decided to stay put here in Tanzania for now. After much prayer and discussion, we felt strongly that whatever decision we made God was still God and He would continue to provide, protect and bless us as a family as He always has. The extra weeks have given us the time to prepare Neema for close down, which we actioned at the end of March.

We have enough funds to pay staff wages for over six months with no income, but after this we don’t know what the future of the project will be, especially as the tourism industry will be severely hit for at least a couple of years. 

We have moved out of our home in town and moved to a retreat centre/campsite called Masumbo, about 15km down the road which our friends run. We’re quite confident that we are fairly safe here and can keep ourselves fairly isolated. It’s a great space for home school and entertaining the kids, however we just can’t predict the future and don’t know how people will react if the crises escalates, which it is likely to do rapidly. We have more or less moved house into Masumbo, so we are well set up here, although there has been some adjustment to living in a very small cottage. 

Ben and Katy's children in Tanzania

Please do pray for me and Katy that we can make the right call for our Neema staff and our family and that we would both have peace about it. We have set up Mpesa (a mobile banking system) for every staff member, so we can pay their wages directly and help them with advances and medical fees remotely (even in the UK).

As you can see it’s much better being here for the children than stuck in a small flat in the UK! If you’d like to see our latest, we have started an Instagram account, the handle is: rayfamilytanzania.

In the meantime, Neema remains closed, probably until the government announces that the schools should re-open.

Apart from the schools being shut, most businesses remain open. We are pleased the decision has been made as so many people live hand-to-mouth it would be very hard to be in the lockdown that neighbouring countries are in (Uganda and Kenya). Neema will be doing its bit to help provide PPE for the local hospitals etc. Our artisans are making face shields, masks and gowns from their homes. It would be great to be able to give them a little for doing this, so if there are some people who would like to contribute towards this we would be very grateful. Just let us know. 

Lots of love to you the Christ Church community

Ben and Katy,

Alessia, Zaki and baby Julia x