At the time of writing, we (Jan & Sylvia) have already been in Tanzania five months. We have spent a long time at Mambo in the Western Usambara Mountains. Before that we were travelling for more than six months and this place just came at the right moment. At that time, we wanted to do some creative projects and heard about some possibilities at the Mambo Primary School. Therefore, we decided to visit the Mambo & Mambo “B” Primary Schools with nearly 1,700 children. We saw some challenges, like renovating and painting some of the walls of the school and we started fund-raising for this project via our travel blog (jscanary.blogspot.com).
It was a fantastic experience to work at this school, together with local people and 'fundis' who made walls really flat before we could work on it and make our own creations. We also worked together with Moddy, a local artist. He helped us a lot. Besides painting, he helped with translating and working with the children. We made a slide show about the project which you can see the result.
We still had some money left from the fund-raising, so we spoke with Herman and Marion about what else we could do. Two days later we visited another village, Tema. The school at this village was even worse than Mambo. For example, there where a couple of classrooms without any desks. The children just sat on the floor or even outside as in the case of the kindergarten. Overall, it was very dirty, many roofs were leaking, and the walls and floors were full of holes. It was very depressing to see this environment. At that time, we concluded that just making an other wall painting should be like a 'flag on a mud barge'.
In order to help us decide which project would be most beneficial to the school, Herman asked us to make an inventory of all primary schools from the Sunga ward (a sort or region). With the results, we and other volunteers can support specific needs of the various schools.
We made a list of all the schools of the ward, arranged the MamboViewPoint car and a guide who could help us with translating and visited the schools. Some days we even had two or three schools to visit. The Sunga Ward is in the mountains and the roads are not always in very good condition due to the rain. So some school visits were real adventures through very small, difficult, rocky, and muddy roads with a lot of potholes. But we managed.
Before we started our visit we made a sort of questionnaire for the schools and a so-called “walking list”. With the walking list, we went through all classrooms to check the status of the walls, the windows, the number of desks that are in a room etc. If possible, we asked questions, such as what is the most important thing (they need) in their school.
Here, we put a list of some of the most notable things of each school together with some pictures.
- Remarkable and even shocking for us was that children sat on the floor in one classroom.
- Toilets in bad stage.
- Not enough classrooms
- Not enough teachers
- Not enough school books
- Leaking roofs
- Not enough desks
Also we saw a surprisingly good, new school. There were even two classrooms that were finished with roofs with a ceiling. The toilet building could be an example to the rest of the schools in the ward. We even saw three water basins for cleaning and gardening. In front of the new classrooms there were a couple of buckets filled with drinking water, which is special because we had never seen this before. At the moment, this school has two teachers for four hundred children. Of course they work in shifts, but they still have one hundred children to teach. A volunteer also teaches the kindergarten.. They use one of the unfinished classrooms. We met the teachers outside as there was still no teachers office.
Here the result of our work in a classroom from Mambo primary school.
After all these visits we concluded that there is very much to do. And most of these things should be done and paid for by the village and/or the government. We think it is to simple to give, for example 100 desks to one or two schools, however it would be better to set an example and inspire them. So we decided that painting is one of the best things that we could do as an “outsider”.
Therefore, we are very happy that we have already started to make a new wall painting (done by Moddy), on one of the walls of the Chambogho school.
In the end....
During these time at Mambo, we learned so much and loved our stay. We are now going back to Holland, to visit our family and friends. But we wish everybody here all the best.
Sylvia & Jan