One year after our first blogs last summer, much has changed with EdPowerment – while much has stayed the same in Tanzania’s agricultural areas. Our good news is that in the next two weeks, water will start pumping from the Kilimahewa project. Check out the pictures – 2 tanks, one for the school and one for the community to use to promote sanitary conditions in their homes and crop development in their shambas (farms).
Next, take a look at the Kilimahewa students enjoying a lunch of makande (beans and maize) that guarantees some nutrition for them each day – and had just about eliminated absenteeism. Which brings me to our student population – now 59 teenagers, 12 of whom will take the Tanzanian QT 1 (Qualifying Test for the equivalent of 10th grade). If they pass, we will continue to provide Form 3 and Form 4 (11th and 12th grade) instruction, after which they will take the QT 2. If they do well enough, some may even be able to enter higher education certificate, diploma and degree programs.
And how things stay the same…
I included some pictures from a visit on Friday afternoon to the homes of two of our students. On a good day, they walk 3 miles, then board a local dala-dala (bus) for the remaining 4 miles to our small school. When the bus is full or doesn’t show, they walk a total of 14 miles in one day – just for a chance at further education. You’ll see some pictures of their families and the circumstances that are typical of the population we serve.
Of course, because hospitality is most valued here regardless of one’s economics – chai was quickly prepared for us. The “bebe” or grandmother (these respected voices are never shy) urged us to build a hostel (dorm) for the girls so they could learn in a safe environment and not face the daily risks of long walks to and from school in the early morning and evenings.
As we learned about their harvesting of corn and one family’s intention to sell a ram in the coming weeks (in order to pay school fees for an older girl to attend vocational school), we heard this beautiful harmonious singing. Sure enough, just a short walk away, a church appeared, hidden in the trees, with a choir preparing for Sunday service – singing, swaying and offering gratitude. The combination of simple joy and thankfulness also doesn’t change in this materially poor but spiritually rich community.