No wifi yesterday at all so I wrote the blog but haven't been able to post it until now
It was supposed to be an earlier start with us on our way to Umonga at 8am ... well we were there ... the kids had done great to be up and ready and breakfasted ... but the bus wasn't! I shouldn't be surprised by this of course but this morning was our visit to kaloleni (the primary school) so that Mrs A could start to develop the relationship with St. Leonard's and there were only a couple of hours assigned to this.
It had rained over night and we were hoping to get away with it today ... but our luck wasn't in. We aren't complaining because the Tanzanians have been waiting for rain for months and the farmers desperately needed it ... but surely it could have waited two more days after being three months late!
We got to kaloleni and the heavens opened and dry sand/mud roadways and paths turned into slippery passageways and it really pelted it down! After initial discussions and a clear strategy for St Leonard's to support the school we went for a look around getting drenched and mucky in the process ... the heavy rain lasted about four hours well into our return to Umonga ...
Mrs A's summary of kaloleni - the new headteacher Arran is great, he has moved things on even further from the great work that I had seen Zephaniah had done ... for instance now there are some displays in classrooms ... number lines, letters, shapes and some pictures. They have huge challenges but are very positive about the future and are happy to embrace change e.g. One teacher has recently done training on Montessori methods ... but they lack the resources and the room currently i.e. The nursery class are in a cleared stock room as their classroom is uninhabitable at the moment and they lack the resources to refurbish it. Even so they have smiles on their faces, the teachers are positive and they had great fun with the parachute which was a gift from the Halls. They regaled us with songs even from the nursery class and the Endowed students got a good opportunity to see what it is like being a primary student here. Arran is energetic, charismatic and student focused ... just what the school needs.
Back at Umonga we taught another four lessons between us (endowed students again were brilliant, the care and dedication to the task was inspiring) and observed an English and Geography lesson before a brief break and then a late lunch with the teachers of Umonga ... you'll never guess what the meat was 😃 Lots of great conversations ensued ... Oli W even stole Rama from talking to me ... clearly his conversation is far more sparkling! At sports time not many students turned up because of the rain earlier in the day ... and the 'playground' was slippy and muddy in places but we put on rounders and badminton which were both very well received ... with Rose Msafiri partaking of badminton (she also really enjoyed the parachute at the primary school). It never ceases to amaze me the natural athleticism some children possess ... there were some potential super stars out there today amongst the Umonga student population and it's hard to come to terms with the fact that they will never get the opportunity to develop such amazing natural abilities ...
Before we knew it the bus was there to take us away ... and not a moment too soon to be honest ... maybe it's my years ... hopefully it's just the heat ... but I'm worn out! The kids have been great but I guess being responsible for them 24/7 away from home keeps the mind constantly on the go! And there's a lot invested in this partnership that I want to continue to develop so everyday needs to be a winner as we have such little time here ...
My summary of the day at Umonga ... eye opening, inspiring, challenging, daunting ... I can see how far the school has come in five years but there is still so far to go! The pace of change here is incredibly slow ... but as I said to the students I was taught in mostly boring classrooms where the board duster, the slipper and the cane were the means of keeping order (some parents might remember similar) and our education system is now amazing in comparison 40 years later (not that our students appreciate it as much as they should) ... so change does come in East Africa, we just have to be patient and do what we can to speed it along. Here is a figure for you to conjure with ... the headteacher at kaloleni (650 students, 28 teachers, 10 classrooms all in need of repair) gets the equivalent of £110 per month to resource everything apart from teacher salaries ... no wonder they cannot afford to refurbish the classroom apart from a very little here, a very little there! I thought BES was hard up ... think again Mr L!!
This evening we had as our guest to dinner (beef curry ... very nice) an English lady we met at church who has committed herself to using her retirement to improving nursery education in this region ... she is doing a great job and we visit one of the nurseries in the morning as an extra on the trip before going to Dodoma school ... I very informative discussion was had by all and it's great to see the passion for Tanzania in someone else.
Hopefully we might have some wifi so I can post this blog tonight ... it's not looking too hopeful after the rains and thunder storms today but I can live in hope ... thanks for continuing to follow us. Mr L