Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world...indeed it is the only thing that ever has." M. Mead

Well, a lot has happened in the last week or so with our work in Tanzania. It was a week and a half of busy, filled days and evenings. Here is a recap... Our bathroom project quickly took on an amazing amount of energy as the village leadership and school headmaster for Lundamatwe shared our desire to assist the school with the village. We scheduled Monday for the "big dig" to get the bathroom project started, but even before Monday the digging began with the students putting in their time and work to the project. Each day before school, the students gathered for an hour to dig our hole for the bathroom and spent an hour after school each day digging. While some of the group taught at the Ulonge Primary School, Ian, Elliot and I worked on the digging and getting the building supplies for the project. By Monday morning, after three days of digging, about three and a half feet of the hole was accomplished. Keep in mind that the hole needed to be about six feet wide, ten feet long and ten ot twelve feet deep. To be honest, I had my doubts about accomplishing the digging in one day, even if many people came to help...Rather than say anymore, I will just share the pictures of our "bathroom project". The bathroom hole after a day of digging Students, Matt and Cathi digging at the end of the first day Elliot digging on the second day The first group of men digging on Monday morning Matt standing in the completed hole at 2pm on Monday! Women preparing meat for our community meal Big vats of rice and beef for the celebration Work is done! Ready to eat! Needless to say, it is quite amazing to think that amount of work could get done so quickly with every chipping in. There will be more pictures to follow of the other work we are doing too, but I wanted to get an update on here quickly. The bathroom building has been going on for two days now, as supplies took a day or so to get purchased and delivered. The fundis (builders) have been hard at work and will complete the project in three weeks...picture updates will be coming. Thank you to everyone who helped fund this project. The students really appreciate it and so does the community. Asante sana (Thank you very much) ~Cathi

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Matt's Project Kesho Thoughts

Hey “Yall.” My name is Matt and I wanted to share my current thoughts on our time here in Iringa, Tanzania. I never realized how much preparation time we would actually need here as we are not just helping the schools of Lundamatwe and Ulonge but each of the communities of amazing people surrounding these schools. We have met with teachers, Headmasters, local government as well as talked with countless number of kids and families about our purpose here and the help that we wish to be. As Cathi mentioned earlier, we started our teaching experiences with some Standard 4 students by teaching English Time. As a College student, I now have even more appreciation for teachers dealing with teaching new topics to young students (and I feel sorry for my Elementary School teachers that had to teach a 7 yr. old me…) But the next few days we are assigned to help at different primary schools (me at Ulonge Primary School) to see what is being taught, how it is currently taught and how we can add to the teaching of English or improve the quality of English spoken with the teachers and the students. I am so excited. I will get to know personally a group of students over the next few weeks in attempts to make some friends, help with English and learn more about their lives as well. After spending this past February to May in Kenya, it is great to be back here amidst smiling faces and Kiswahili language to be apart of another welcoming community. Our Project is going well and we plan to break ground on a bathroom at one of the schools this coming weekend. Thank you for your time and be sure to stay updated with all that we are accomplishing here in the Southern Hemisphere. I also felt like I should add a little Kiswahili lesson to acclimate you to Tanzanian Culture: Hujambo … Hello Sijambo … Hello (response to ‘Hujambo’) Habari yako? … How are you? Nzuri sana … Very good. Ahsante sana … Thank you very much! Kwaheri … Goodbye Jina lako ni nani? … What is your name? Jina langu ni (insert name here)… My name is ________ Ninatoka America. … I come from America. Niko hapa kusaidia elimu ya watoto wa Iringa. … I am here to help the education of the Iringa children. Ningekupenda kuwa na elimu na kesho bora. … I would like you to have an education and a better tomorrow. Thank you for your support and interest and tutazungumza tena hivi karibuni (we will talk again soon!)

Friday, July 06, 2007

It is the little things...

Since I last posted, our team has taken a short weekend safari to Ruaha Game Park, where we saw many animals and even got chased by elephants! While in Ruaha, we received word that my backpack had made its way to Dar finally, but Lynn's has yet to be found. I feel pretty fortunate to have gotten my bag because I only had one outfit with me, and there is only so much borrowing you can do in the group when we all only have about three outfits tops! After returning from the weekend trip, we began to work on our planning for teaching in the schools. I also had a chance to meet with the local village leader to discuss a need the village was experiencing. Basically, for nearly two years, a dispensary (clinic) has been in the works and being built. The village did not have enough money to complete this project, with the bathrooms still needing doors. The doctor from Dar would not be sent until doors were ordered for the bathrooms, because the clinic would not be opened. Project Kesho was asked if there was any room in our bathroom budget to allot money for four doors which would allow the dispensary to open. Their financial need amounted to eighty-five USD. We were able to facilitate this, and within two days doors were being built and a doctor was on his way. This dispensary will serve the local community, in particular providing children with free immunizations and mother's with pregnancy care. Our organization believes that healthy children are more likely to attend school and not miss important lessons due to illness and that children must be healthy to learn at an optimal level. Here are pictures of the bathrooms before the doors and the bathroom doors now hanging in the newly opened dispensary... Thank you bathroom donors!! A little wood goes a long way... In addition to these bathrooms and doors, we will be having our formal meeting with the whole village council to confirm the girl's bathroom budget for the school next week and then officially break ground for these bathrooms. We may have a roast and celebration during that time too. Some projects we will be working on following this summer trip and could begin if there are people interested in helping to support our work: As you have probably noticed from our pictures, the classrooms are devoid of wallhangings or environmental print instructional aides. We have determined that for a mere cost of around six hundred dollars, Project Kesho can supply one of the local school teachers (who is an artist) with paint supplies to paint the walls in each classrom with instructional aides. These wall paintings will include bilingual labels in Kiswahili and English for the lphabet, the numbers, the days of the week and the months of the year. Other subject matter related paintings will be done too. By painting these things directly to the walls, we can avoid posters ripping or getting damaged. A little paint lasts a long time... Finally, I want to share a little about the students and our teaching experiences. We have been teaching these last two days as a team, as we get to know the teaching guidelines, the methodology and the students. We have been working on telling time in English with the students because the Swahili time system is very different than ours. In Swahili time, the day begins with sunrise so one o'clock in the morning is actually OUR 7 a.m. This difference in time system makes it very hard for the children to understand the English system, a system used throughout the world including in business. We have been humbled by the patience, persistence and eagerness to learn that the students have displayed. We are slowly seeing them become more comfortable to talk to us, although they are still very shy. The pictures to follow are being posted in hopes of giving you faces to connect with our you may know the people and so you may see the potential in each child the way we do. You may recognize some of these children from pictures in other years, from pictures I have in my classroom in Washington or from our website. It is wonderful to see some of these children getting older and remaining in school. They are tomorrow for Africa... Please feel free to comment on this blog and to let us know if you think you can help our organization! -Cathi