THE TANGAWIZI INVESTIGATION
After putting out the word that we’re searching for Tangawizi, we’ve received a lot of emails and messages similar to this one (from a missionary in Kenya):
“Interesting. A few observations here.
‘Tangawizi’ is the Swahili word for ‘Ginger’ … as in ‘ginger ale.’ It is almost certainly a nick-name, not a true given name.
Kekerook is in the Maasai Mara, which is the northern tip of the Serengeti. We do have some staff out there in that area, but finding an individual child with no more than a nick-name would be quite difficult, I’m afraid.
So, they have quite the task ahead of them, I’m afraid…”
The obvious had eluded me, but my wife caught it.
“Wait…’Ginger’? Is Tangawizi a girl?!?”
It would make a lot is sense when you consider what we know about Tanagawizi. After all, there is a pink blanket in the picture, and the shorts sort of look like a skirt. Lincoln’s grandma has resolved to just calling Tangawizi “Little T.” Many apologies to the Tangawizis of the world who we’ve been ignorantly calling a “boy.”
Unfortunately, none if this helps much in the search. Our friend April explained in another email:
“When we were exploring the possibility of establishing a child sponsorship program (in Kenya), it was so difficult to figure out which of the kids were boys or girls. And sometimes their names were very tribal/African so it’s not like I could guess well either!
They shave the kids hair and because of the poverty the kids wear whatever clothes are available to them. Some of the teenage boys in one of our homes was wearing pink girly pajama pants with pink crocks because that’s all that would fit him and then you’d have little girls with superman tees on. It’s sad…SO, I understand the aspect of ambiguity. Unfortunately, that makes it more difficult to track down.”
So that’s more bum news. The ambiguity of Tangawizi’s name and gender are going to make the search significantly more challenging. You can’t just scoot around southern Kenya with picture, saying “have you seen this child?” (Especially if you’ve seen Terminator II…)
Thankfully, we also got a huge piece of good news.
Melissa and I have a friend named Jennifer who works as a chaplain in Nairobi, which is about 150 miles from where we think Tangawizi lives. The same day I posted about searching for Tangawizi, Jennifer emailed us and offered to deliver the bed. Amazing. She also asked if she could document the process. Of course!
To add to the good news, it turns out Jennifer’s best friend Gloria knows her way around the Mara (where we think Tangawizi lives), and has a friend who knows the area and the language (Swahili.) Both women were touched by Lincoln’s quest, and believe God is building an incredible story between two little kids on different sides of the world.
So while the search may be difficult, we’ve got two willing participants. We’re excitedly working on some details with Jennifer and Gloria. We’ll update the progress of the travel plans as soon as possible. Stay tuned…
If you want to take part in the story, you can do so in a few ways: (1) follow the blog to see what will happen with Jennifer and Gloria’s journey to find Tangawizi. (Sign up via email in the “free words and music” field to the right); (2) donate to the fundraiser via PayPal @ email@example.com (all donations will go toward the bed + travel expenses + Tangawizi’s community); (3) Spread the word via email, social media, and good ol’ fashioned storytelling; (4) Send us any information that might be helpful in locating Tangawizi. We’ve spent a lot of our free time int he last week Googling, MapQuesting, and trying to gather info. But between our family, jobs, and school our free time is pretty limited. Any info helps. Plus, who doesn’t like to act like a stalker/fake Google private investigator?