So Much going on in Tanzania!
Life in Tanzania is constantly energizing! Our students are learning leaps and bounds! It is so rewarding to see their progress.
I remember the first day our 10 students arrived in our little classroom. That was 10 months ago; they had no idea what a number or a letter were. I remember the way they would look at me when I spoke to them in English. Hard to believe it was only 10 months ago…Progress is astounding!!
When we started our school our students ranged from 3 to 6 years old. Due to the fast pace of our curriculum, we recently had to ask the four youngest student’s parents to find a nursery school for their child beginning next month. These four children can’t keep up with the speed at which the others were learning. We have replaced the four 4 year olds with four 5 year old children. All of our students now are on an equal playing field – (although the new four have a bit of catching up to do, especially in learning English.) We will miss our youngsters next month, but we are hopeful to see them next year when they are bit older. It is not an easy thing to do, but it was necessary.
I am amazed every day with their potential. Today Marion came to school and asked everyone to “sit down in your chair”, Faraja came to school and told me: “It is raining outside and I am wet”. I ask Derek :where are you going?” he responds “To the toilet”. I ask Ezra ” did you do your homework?” and he responds ”Yes, I did”. These may seem like little things, however, English is not their first language, this is really exciting for them and for me! When I say “yes” the class responds “no”, I say “hot” and the class says “cold”, I say “clean” and they say “dirty” and it goes on…old/new, top/bottom, stop/go, black/white, day/night etc. I ask them to give me a letter to add to “at” they respond, H, C, B, F, R and call out each word!
They are learning so quickly now…they can add and subtract, know how to count in 1′s, 2′s, 5′s & 10s. They know how to spell the numbers from 1-10 count up to 100 and they eagerly want to learn more and look forward to their homework assignment and weekly quiz. Some of our new students went to a nursery school for one year before coming here. They are encouraged to learn more and actively participate because there is no fear in our classroom. The other schools have teachers with sticks who beat the children. (Most of the schools have that kind of structure in place) In our school we hug each other at the end of every school day… We sing, we dance, we play, we laugh, we learn.
As many of you know we owned a shamba (plot of land) in Saibatu village in Olosiva for the past 2.5 years. We were uncertain as to whether we should sell the plot and purchase a new one close to where we have been running our school for the past year or to build a school on our land. After much discernment and inquiry we have decided to build our school on our plot. It will take a long time to realize this goal, but we are certain that with your help and continued support we will succeed! I am so proud of what began here…WE are making a difference in the lives of these children, who have no other alternative to a quality education.
Last week we began building the foundation of our volunteer/teacher house. The months go by fast and it seems that the rent is always due, we will eliminate our monthly overhead when it is completed and our school will be right next door in a proper classroom instead of our living room. It will be a comfortable stay for a long or short term visit…Karibu Tanzania!
I must say that building a building is overwhelming. Every hour of every day is accounted for; teaching in the morning, building all afternoon, going back and forth to the bank… it is also emptying our bank account at record speed! I get scared wondering how in the world will we finished what we began? At times I get stressed, but know in my heart that it will all work out and I always have faith.
We hope to have the foundation completed by the time I head back to Boston in 2.5 weeks. Everything is much more expensive then I ever imagined…or perhaps I am just overly careful with our donated funds. Either way…We are going to need your support more than ever! Please consider hosting a fundraiser, donating to our cause, volunteering at Gillette or… be creative, we all have a gift, please share yours with us!
Karibu Tanzania! Help teach our students and/or help build a classroom! The weather is great, the people here are wonderful…it would be a trip of a lifetime! Although I am not in Tanzania all the time, that is no problem…come anytime it is convenient for you, our staff here will take good care of you!
March 31st, 2013 will be the 6th anniversary of my first trip to Tanzania. Who would have ever thought that this is where I would be spending many months of the year? Life takes mysterious paths, some we reject and some we walk. I am glad to have chosen this one. Although life is not always easy, it has taught me so much about humanity and myself.
A great big thank you to my family for putting up with me while I am away…Thank you Bruce for coming out to Tanzania and encouraging me to continue what I began. Thank you to my brother in law Mark for making the journey half way around the world twice to visit. Thank you to all of our dedicated and wonderful volunteers in New England who help make this possible. This would not happen without your support.
Thank you to my Mom, who always taught me to march to the beat of my own drum and always supported everything I do. Thank you to all who have donated gently used clothes, toothbrushes and school supplies for our students.
To the wonderful people in Tanzania who I met along the way…for welcoming me to your country. Thank you to those people who created memories and stories who with their outrageous behavior have unwittingly given me enough stories to write my novel; without your scams, skulduggery, behind the scenes undermining and blatant conniving – my life here would be very dull!
A special thank you to all of you who traveled to Tanzania on safari and stopped by to visit us! The children still talk about your visit and look forward to seeing you again!
Thank you to those who took the time to read this blog…without you it would be just words on a screen, you bring us to life!
A big thank you to all our past and future donors who contribute so generously to our project and believe in the impact we have on the future of Tanzania.
Let’s hope the next post doesn’t take six months!