Saturday, April 20, 2013

The kids and the school

So much to say in this post, but really the pictures show the heart of the story.  Afrishare Solutions set up our volunteer opportunities for us, through Ibrah's connections in the community.  Amanda volunteered at a school closer to Soweto, but Chrystal and I were sent to a school in the slums of Moshi, called Kaloleni Nursery School.  It is run by an NGO called Kilimanjaro Kids with Futures, which is basically run by the teachers.   I'm showing these pictures, and these children's faces in hopes that it will spread understanding and encourage people to become involved in the educational futures of the children of Tanzania. 

Driving in to the neighborhood is was clear we were not in Kansas anymore.  The roads were all dirt, with large ditches filled with trash and waste along the sides.  None of the houses had windows or floors, and many were just made out of mud and sticks.  There were people everywhere, and children seemingly alone playing wherever they wanted.  I didn't pull out my camera and take pictures, because it just didn't seem right.  Ibrah explained that this neighborhood is close to the city dump, and also the river, so most people forage in the trash for what they need, and walk down to the river for their water.

The school is nicely painted on the outside with Safari animals, and this logo. 

Kaloleni Nursery School is for ages 4-6  Kids go to Primary School at age 7.  Nursery school is not mandatory in Tanzania, so therefore the only kids who can attend are the ones who can afford the 4,000 shilling/month fee (approx $2.50).  Even so, many of these children have not paid their fees for months, but the teachers don't kick them out because they still want them to learn.

This is Nestory, the head teacher.  I worked with him in his classroom for 2 weeks.  He has been a teacher for about 5 years, and is paid by the student fees.  The school has about 110 students at the moment, and he said that 80 of them don't pay the fee.  To make a little extra money he teaches evening classes to older students.  Here you can see Nestory in his classroom with the older students, mostly 5 and 6 years old.  He has around 45 students all by himself every day from 8-12.

Here they are learning the parts of the body.  You can see that there is not much on the walls.  He explaining that the school gets broken into quite frequently, and many things are stolen.  On the back wall are pictures of the kids that I had printed while I was there.  I gave them to Nestory, and the next day this collage was on the wall!  They learn mainly in Kiswahili, but also have English lessons, because in Primary School they will have some lessons in English.

This is the second classroom of the school, with the younger students. There are over 60 kids in this one classroom, around age 4 and 5.  You can see they don't have any books, and they sit at long benches.  The teachers write on chalkboards at the front of the room, when they have chalk.  Each child some sort of bag or backpack to school, and they are supposed to have their own exercise book and pencil inside- but many did not.  Some of them had old exercise books that had belonged to an older sibling, and they just wrote in the open spaces on the pages.  The ones that I saw with pencils were often chewing on them and eating the wood because they were hungry and had nothing to eat.  The school can't afford to feed the children anything- that's one of the things the teachers hope to provide for the children one day.  Normally school children get some sort of porridge or chapati at school, but not at this one.  At times it just seemed they were too hungry to pay attention.  On the left you can see Chrystal and Sadick, the teacher of the younger students.

This is during "Recess" time one day.  This is the patio behind the school, and Julia and Chrystal are teaching them the "Chicken Dance".  The kids loved it!  You may notice that we are all in long skirts.  Tanzania is about 1/3 Muslim, 2/3 Christian, and still has a few people practicing indigenous beliefs.  But, they are a conservative culture.  Women cover their shoulders and knees, and normally all teachers wear skirts- so we tried to adhere to their cultural norms as much as possible.

Some of my students.  The beautiful girl on the left just wanted to hold my hand or arm whenever I was near.  She is very smart, and I hope she continues her education!

This is an example of the backpacks carried by the children.  This one is Korean!  Many of them get their bags at the second-hand shops, where goods from other countries are sent over and sold very cheaply.  Apparently Korean backpacks are very popular, because about a quarter of the school had them!

When we would check their work the students always wanted a checkmark.  I started adding a smiley face if the work was VERY good, and that always made their day!

This school has had volunteers come before, so they had prepared this paper explaining their situation, and what they needed the most.  Some volunteer organizations that bring people to Moshi do not allow the volunteers to purchase anything for the schools, or make any monetary donations.  But, we had done a lot of fundraising while we were in Germany to prepare for this trip- to specifically spend on projects just like this.  Before we left we purchased 5 different sets of textbooks (English, Math, Kiswahili, Science, and ABC) so that the students would have books to look at while the teachers taught.  We bought enough so that each bench could have three or more, and the students could share.  We also bought them exercise books, pencils, pencil sharpeners, and chalk.  It felt good to make an immediate impact, but the need is still so great.  

I hope to find a way to still help Kaloleni Nursery School in the future.  I'm still brainstorming about this!

1 comment:

Emily Cole said...

This post made me tear up, thinking about these children and their future. Also, teaching these students is such an important job, and yet these men do it for almost no pay. They are truly doing something that is priceless! I'm glad you guys were able to make some immediate impact with your donations.