For the last three years one of our Teaching Assistants has travelled to Tanzania under her own steam to visit Mchikichini A School and lots of the schools nearby. She has done lots of fund-raising and has helped to improve life at these schools for their pupils by decorating and making improvements to buildings.
We have had no funding from the British Council since 2015 and in this time of funding cuts in Education we have struggled to fund anything more than in the way of visits.
Teachers keep in touch with our Tanzanian colleagues informally in the mean time via social media. In school we talk about the children there and they feature in our prayers sometimes, but that is currently the extent of our partnership.
We are reviewing this situation with a view to finding a partnership that is reciprocal and can be managed more cheaply and simply.
What this space!!
My name is Miss Dobbs, I teach Class 3 and this year it was my turn to go and visit our partnership school in Tanzania.
What an amazing experience I had! The teachers, staff and children were extremely welcoming and it was fantastic to see the impact that our partnership has had on Mchikichini A!
A group of teachers from the local area, which included myself and Mrs Brumage ( a school governor) all met up at Birmingham airport on Wednesday 21st October. This was the start of a very long journey off to visit our partnership schools in Tanzania.
The first airplane journey took us to Dubai Airport where we spent the very early hours of the morning waiting for our connecting flight. The next stage of our journey then took us on another flight to Dar es salem in Tanzania. We were met at the airport by Duma who drove us in his minibus on the 3 hour journey to Morogoro where our schools are all based. The journey took about 27 hours in total and we were exhausted when we got there!
Today we met the head teachers from our different schools outside the municipal offices in town. We were introduced to the different people who we would be working with on our visits. It was a bit strange as there was an election being held on the Sunday so the offices themselves were shut!
Mrs Brumage and myself were met by two of the teachers that work within our school, we were scooped up and taken to visit Mchikichini A for the first time.
Everyone was thrilled to see us! The children all wanted to carry our bags and to find out more about us. We were shown the new computer room that Miss Pugh had help set up on her previous visit, and the children were keen to show us what they had learnt. Everyone is exceedingly proud of the fact that they have computers within their school as many schools in Morogoro do not even have power.
There were a few technical issues that I needed to get to the bottom of (including the word for surge protector in Swahili!) so we spent the day trying to get to the bottom of why the internet did not work!
After school I had the privilege of being asked back to visit two of the teachers houses and to meet their families. Again everyone was very welcoming and very eager to feed us!
Today we all invited a teacher form our partnership schools to come with us to visit Mikumi which is a national wildlife park. Wow! Although it was a very early start it was well worth the effort as we saw lions, hippos, vulture, wilderbeasts, warthogs, giraffe, crocodiles and a heard of elephants in their natural environment! Even the Tanzania people with us had never seen some of these animals in such a way!
We stopped for a picnic lunch and I even used the 'long drop' toilet (that was an experience!).
We were invited to join the congregation within the local cathedral for their morning service led by Father Fred. It was mostly in Swahili so Father Fred had to interpret for us. We then had to stand up in front of everyone and introduce ourselves in Swahili.
After the service Father Fred invited us back to his house for a drink and to meet his wife and children.
We then along with Father Fred and his wife Alice we to visit the cemetery for the fallen British soldier from WW1. It was a very moving place to go to and see the row upon row of headstones for those people who gave their lives while based in Tanzania. Many of them only teenagers or in their early 20's.
Monday - Thursday
The rest of my time was spent in school. I got to teach their Standard 1 class using a number line made from a washing line which our Reception class had sent for them. They found this fascinating and the teacher even filmed me doing it! I taught Standard 3 English using the story of Going on a Bear hunt created by our class 1 children. I also had to explain what a bear was! Luckily I had Year 3's class mascot Paddington to help me with this!
I also used some of the forest school activities with the children which they found very strange as they do not do any work outside the classroom. The teacher did not know that the outdoors could be used to teach the children! They very much learn by repeating what the teacher shows them.
As well as all this I got to see the children learn English and they sang me some songs that they had been taught previously by Mrs Millar and Miss Pugh.
Quite a lot of my time was spent teaching the adults within school how to use the computers, scanner and internet so that we will be able to communicate more freely with them. Our aim is for the children to be able to send messages to each other from both schools.
I have to say the whole experience has been an eye opener. It has given me a better understanding of how privileged we and our children are. I have lots I want to share with the children in my class and can't wait for when Mrs Kingu comes to England to visit us!
This academic year Miss Pugh (Year 5 teacher) and Mrs Brumage (governor) headed to see our friends in Mchikichini A primary school in Morrogoro.
Miss Pugh kept a very detailed Diary of her time there which she would like to share with you all.
The day we arrived!!! My, what a long flight and second flight delayed and then 5 and a half hour drive from Dar Es Salam. Everyone is close to exhaustion so as we arrive at Amabilis with our Tanzanian teachers already here we put on our best non tired faces and greet them with open arms. After a brief hello we realise that there was trouble inside Amabilis as Gaynor had not returned swiftly with a smile. We went to investigate to find that they had not booked us rooms. Crisis averted some of us including me agreed to stay in a double room with a shared shower. We then joined our Tanzanian friends outside for a bottle of pop and a catch up. It was so lovely to see some familiar faces and I got to meet the head teacher of Mchikichini A Primary School, Mr Hulka Mwalende. They stayed for about an hour then we all retired for a long awaited shower! So after a lovely dinner of fried chicken (proper fried), we all wearily made our way upstairs to bed.
Early start to the day and an intriguing breakfast of stale bread and hot dog sausages, which I might add, were a yummy protein start to the day , especially with a drop of chilli sauce! Very excited this morning as we are heading to the Mikumi safari park. Hulka met us outside at 7.00am along with the teachers from the other Tanzanian schools and we set off. About half way to the safari park we stopped and saw a family of giraffes feeding right by the side of the road. I got some amazing pictures. We continued on our journey and saw even more animals on our way including impala deer and a solitary warthog. This prepared us perfectly for the eclectic mix of well camouflaged creatures we were about to encounter. Cautiously we pulled into the entrance and our "mother hen" Patsy stepped out to negotiate proceedings on our behalf. After a short wait we met our guide for the journey Hassan. Embarking on our adventure into the park with the prospect of seeing a real life lion in its own habitat was almost too much to bear. The journey, even though a rocky ride, was very much an eventful one. We saw a plethora of wild animals including wildebeest, giraffe, zebra and elephants! It was truly breath-taking. Our safari lasted for 4 hours and we saw incredible landscapes as well as incredible beasts. We then went with our partners to a place to have lunch. It was a similar affair of chicken, rice and sauce apart from the lack of chicken by the time Hulka, Patsy and I were fed. With catch ups had and bellies filled we returned to Amabilis saying a brief farewell and "see you soon" to our friends. The day was far from over as we needed to shower, spruce up and adorn our best clothes for a birthday celebration. One of the travelling teachers from Malvern turned 28 on this very special day. We had booked ourselves in to a charming hotel just half a kilometer down the road for a birthday meal/cake extravaganza! The food was fabulous and the company smashing. It as a fantastic end to an already unbeatable day.
Early rise today as we are off to church at 7.00am! As the clocks change in England we are all getting up U.K. time of 3.00am, no extra hours sleep for us. All wearing our best frocks (apart from Paul the only male in our party!) we awaited the driver to come and collect us from Amabilis. Wearing the lovely outfit Mrs Millar had had made last year, I felt at home stepping into the cathedral grounds. People were so polite and spent their time greeting us in English or their native tongue of Kiswahili. Everybody wanted to shake our hands and be our friends. I felt like a person of great importance and a little ignorant all at the same time. We were greeted by Reverend Fred, shown to our seats and the service commenced. It was a lengthily affair in Swahili but very moving on the same note! I was completely blown away the minute they started singing. It was beauty in its purest form, which brought a tear to my eye. There was a very interesting middle section completed by a preacher which, from what I gather, involved unpicking a few verses from Mathew, chapter 2 and then confirming their meaning. He was a very animated man with an infectious persona and dazzling tie!!. This tie in question comprised of three silk stitched pictures including a tree, an open bible and a cross in a variety of illuminating colours. With his animated personality this tie danced around and caught the light like a newly formed rainbow in the morning mist. The sermon finished an hour later and we shook everyone's hands outside before returning to Amabilis to change out of our best clothes into something we could wear to town. We stopped for lunch on the way at the very pleasant hotel we'd eaten at the previous night. We tucked in to a very enjoyable lunch and then headed into town. Being a Sunday, not all of the shops were open but it was a great opportunity to explore. We wandered around shops, vendors and market stalls and experienced what it might be like to shop as a Morrogoran. Later on, after purchasing some oranges we headed along the dirt track to our new found home, the convent. As most of us were pooped, we had an early night in preparation for our first day in school.
First day in school, nerves kick in this morning as if I were back at home preparing for a first day in a new term. Earlier start than expected for Patsy and I as Esther Mosha turned up to pick us up 30 minutes early. Bad communication on someone's part as we assumed we were heading to the municipal building with the rest of our party. Never mind we rushed downstairs with no breakfast and greeted our old friend! Esther, her bright and bubbly self, was a delight to see before we headed into school. After greeting Hulka from Esther's car we went into his house and met the new addition to his family, baby Elizabeth, who was just stunning. A bright, chubby, bouncy baby full of smiles for Patsy and I. Gifts for the family exchanged, we went outside to greet the children having rushed out at the drop of a hat discovered I did not have my welcome speech and also had the wrong iPad. I was so cross! But as Patsy said quite righty "accuna matata". After resisting bursting into a rendition of the lion king, I watched the children attentively as the sung the special song they had prepared for me and Mrs Brumage
(they call her Bibi which means grandma). Then it was time to shoot off to the municipal office. We met the education officer for Morrogoro. He was very pleasant and told us what we should expect from our partnership schools and to enjoy our time here in Tanzania. About twenty minutes later we headed back to school, where we were greeted by a beautiful breakfast prepared by one of the teachers. Donuts, a boiled egg and the famous frankfurter were very well received as bellies were rumbling by this point. I then got to experience my first part of teaching Tanzanian style. Dorkas taught standard 5 Kiswahili. They were writing down definitions for vocabulary. Dorkas would write the word ask the children to guess what it meant then get a team at the front of the class, who had a dictionary, to confirm or deny their suggestions, then she would write definitions and the children would copy. Then being pulled away just before dinner Hulka, Esther, Patsy and I headed into town to see if we could sort out the cost of internet for Mchikichini A for a year, oh and we bought extra chairs for the computer room too. Town seemed to take an awfully long time, bank followed by, one shop after another, after another, which was all great but I would have liked to have been at school. Back at school we had a surprising lunch prepared for us by one of the teachers, a beautiful selection of curry, rice, vegetables, sauce and fruit. All amazingly tasty. By the time we'd gobbled down the feast it was home time. So after spending an hour with computer club teaching them what I could in a short period of time with no projector and no wifi, we headed back to Amabilis. I felt the love from the children and the staff so much today. I felt privileged and honoured to be visiting them and feel they have so much to offer us that we have not yet explored. An incredible, humbling first day in school and I can not wait to return!
Very geared up and excited to start with my maths/orienteering lesson today. All resources are extra prepared and in school. I have maths with Standard 1 first thing and after a swift breakfast Esther is in the car park ready to greet us! I start to show Idda (Standard 1 teacher) the resources I have prepared and she says no!! Too tricky for Standard 1-gutted! I was so ready to blow them away with my exciting lesson. Accuna matata! I observed then taught an impromptu lesson on number bonds to 10, 20 and 100 using the Frisbees outside. The children were a in such large numbers (up to 123 in a class) but most of them stayed on task and loved the fact they were outside of the classroom and still learning. We then went back inside and the children wrote a selection of sums in their books following the task I'd just completed outside. I said to Idda "Why don’t you ask the children to swap books and mark each other’s work to save on your marking time?". She loved this idea, completed it and said it will save her time with marking in future. We then sat down to another beautiful breakfast prepared for us by the staff at the school. This time it was chapatti with boiled egg and sausage. We then headed into town to pay for the internet for one year for the school, a very exciting prospect. That all done and dusted we headed back to school for lunch. Today a banana curry and rice- very tasty. I then observed some very interesting English teaching in Standard 3. Some revision work on who's items belonged to who. A very long day all in all but a very interesting one and getting more and more excited about completing more teaching.
Medicine day in school today and I am so excited about teaching the maths I have prepared for Standard 3. Early to school and prepared for my class, Patsy helped me place cones all around the school with the maths problems underneath. Some of the cones even came back to us before the fun had begun due to the fact that the children thinking we had misplaced them and tidied them up for us! It is very apparent that the children believe their school rules are very important and that the school itself is a very safe trusting environment which was not what I'd expected. Children so willing to help you and make sure you have everything you need. Back to our maths lesson. All of the orienteering cones were placed outside, in trees, on the ground and in plant pots. The lesson began with short multiplication with the teacher Lucy showing some very good examples at the front of the class. She was making deliberate mistakes so the children corrected her and even got a child up to the front to act as teacher and show the other children howto do it. Some lovely teaching methods that Esther must have brought back with her from Bredon Hancock's or that the teacher had simply developed herself but it was some lovely whole class learning. We then took half of the children outside to start off the orienteering maths lesson. Lucy explained the task very well to the children after I had split them into groups of 5. The children were then given the number of the cone they had to go to and they were off. Children running, smiling faces, competition, teamwork, helping each other, it was fast paced and thoroughly enjoyed and it was lovely to see the children learning outside the classroom. We swapped groups and the other half of the children came outside to finish off the problem. They were even faster than the first group at solving the clues. It took a double lesson but it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We then had another beautiful lunch prepared by another teacher. The children were all leaving school early today because their medicine will make them feel a little poorly. So Mrs Brumage and I headed in to town with Mr Mwalende and Mrs Mosha to sort out the internet package for the school. With all the incredible fundraising that Mrs Brumage, the church congregation and the school completed before our trip we were able to buy a package for the school that would give them internet for a whole year. The staff and children were so grateful when we returned and told them the news.
Later that evening Esther took us out for a beautiful meal and I had the opportunity of meeting her husband. A lovely evening with delightful company.
Waking up knowing I would be spending time with Mrs Mosha's class today was wonderful. I couldn't wait to get to school. The children were as delightful as expected. We looked at climate and weather in our two countries, learned an interesting weather song and completed and drew some lovely seasonal pictures. The children were excited and happy during the lesson and loved using the paints and colours to draw their pictures.
After breakfast, again the famous frankfurter was back, we did some shared learning about our values. We shared what five things were important to us, made us happy, made us a good Christian and the children in Mchikichini looked at what the children from Bredon Hancock's wrote. Some of the answers were very different but they both showed great love and compassion for family values and community. Then we had a classroom discussion about what made somebody rich and what made somebody poor, an activity I had also completed with my class before travelling. The children in Tanzania clocked on to the fact straight away that this activity was not about wealth but about what made your life rich. The Year 5 children took a little bit longer to work this out. A fantastic insight for me as to how children's opinions can vary but all in all we believe in the same values. I then asked the children in Standard 5 whether they thought that there were any poor/homeless/less fortunate people in the U.K. to which they answered, no because all children have the opportunity to go to school. They were shocked and even asked Esther if I was being truthful when I told them that some people in the U.K. had very little food or no home to live in. Such an insightful and valuable learning experience for me and one I hope to share with the children in BHFS. It just shows that some of the misconceptions we have of everyone from Africa being poor, they have the misconception that everyone in the U.K. is wealthy.
Another lovely lunch followed (I am getting a little tired of eating rice though now) prepared again by the staff for us. We then spent the afternoon exchanging gifts and listening to the lovely speech and ceremony prepared, for our departure, by the children. Some fantastic singing and dancing and an incredible whole school performance. I felt honoured. I then read my speech in English and Kiswahili. I was very nervous, but got through it.
An emotional and heart-warming final day and I shall be very sad to leave tomorrow.
We leave today and I can honestly say that I feel like the time has been too short. I feel as I am just getting to know the amazing staff and fantastic children of Mchikichini A and we must say our goodbyes. My time here has been both magical and eye opening. I can truly say that I leave with a sad heart and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Mrs Millar (Head teacher) and Mrs Brumage (Governor) went to Tanzania in July 2013. They stayed near to our partner school Mchikichini A Primary School in Mororgoro, and spent most of their time in school. They did manage to get a trip out to Mikumi National Park where they saw many wonderful animals, but they were moved most by the people they met. They did some teaching and some observing others teach (in classes of 123). They painted a number frieze on the walls of the Kindergarten classroom where there was nothing previously, and taught lots of children how to play Parachute games!
Mrs Millar said "I have never felt so welcome anywhere else in the world as I did in Morogoro. It felt very special to be a part of such a humbling experience. The children were lovely and their families were so generous with the very little they had".
When they were there they bought some very basic resources for each of the classes with money that the families and wider community had raised from events such as a Bridge Drive and an Auction of Artworks. The best thing they did was to take some donated laptops to the school and set them up with a computer suite so that they could work, email and print in one special room. They had to get electricity to the room before they could even start! They taught the teachers and some of the older children a little bit about computers so that they could teach each other.
Mrs Millar has done presentations for staff and children at school where the focus so far has been on cultural diversity. We had a Tanzanian themed week in the Spring term and one of Partner School teachers, Mrs Mosha, visted in April this year. She was an inspiration to all the staff and children alike. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and was very keen to tell her colleagues all about how we teach our children here, when she got back. She was amazed by the independence of our children and how they took some responsibility for developing their own learning. "They are very good learners here, and they will learn well for the rest of their lives " she said.
Mrs Mosha took back some money, that we raised last year from various events, to finish off their computer room with glass windows and new paint! They have since finished the room and are using their "computer suite" to learn about word processing and using the internet! This is one of the only schools in Tanzania to have such a facility!
Miss Pugh is planning to go out to Mcikichini A Primary School in October this year.
Below is a poem that one of our children were inspired to write after the first Tanzanian visitor came to our school.
I lie awake in a warm, cosy bed,
"Come down for breakfast" my Mummy said.
In Tanzania, Moses wakes too,
"Sorry" said Mum, "Not much nreakfast for you".
He walks to his school to the sound of a band,
smiling and dancing he skips on the sand.
I walk in the cold, an the concrete playground,
laughing and chatting to friends all around.
His classroom is bare, with sand on the floor,
A blackboard, white chalk and look, nothing more.
He sits at his desk with three other boys,
one pencil, one book and there are no toys.
My classroom in England is full of resources,
pencils and paper and books about horses.
Displays about Vikings hang on the wall,
bright paint, computers and whiteboards for all.
So, we should appreciate all that we've got,
and in Tanzania there's not such a lot.
But Moses is happy and all his friends too,
they work hard and smile and hope dreams come true.