Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Contributing to Scholarships and Extra teachers in Mambo

By Andy Wittenwiler Silvia Bretsche

We live in a very small village in the east part of Switzerland. We are both teachers. Andy works in a psychiatry for children and youth. Silvia teaches in a primary school grade 5 and 6. Both of us have also a practical background. Andy was working as a bricklayer for 5 years and Silvia as a carpenter for 4 years.

It was always in our mind to take a break from our daily routine just to get other impressions, experiences and to open our horizon.
A lady in a travel agency recommended MamboViewPoint to us and we got in touch with Herman.

Because of our experiences in education, he wanted us to help in different education projects.

During May to July 2013, we were here for about 8 weeks.

As a contributing friend in MamoViewPoint, you are lucky to be at a beautiful place. From sunrise to sunset you can enjoy the breathtaking views, experience nature and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with the bungalows, the gardens and trails. The clouds that pass by every day around lunch time and sometimes which are sometimes hanging on mountain peak cannot disturb the great feeling.
We were amazed, that we may carry so much responsibility, despite to the short stay. By our self we could plan the tasks and could discuss everything with Herman and Marion regularly. Through the support of Mr. Hoza we soon get in touch with the school and the important people. Mr. Hoza was always a big help to discuss our concerns and to clarify issues.
Since we were often walking for various projects, we got a good insight into the culture and life of the local people. It was beautiful to see how kindly we were welcomed everywhere and how much time the people took for us.
Working on the diverse and complex projects was a big challenge. However, we are happy about working in education but not to be directly involved in teaching.
After about eight weeks, our stay is already over. We think, that we brought many things on a good point. The output of the projects is still open. To bring something to an end is never possible in education anyway.
We hope that the first selection with the new committee will be successful. We have a good feeling with the various members of the committee and the process structure.
Through the work with the sponsored students and the link to one of the Staff, we hope that the relationship of the individual students with MamboViewPoint will be intensified and become more transparent. It is certainly important that the staff will be alerted to their task again and again. We were pleased that we have already sensed the commitment of individual employees.
Due to the many students and the poor conditions in primary school, it seems to be very difficult to make positive changes. We believe that the solution with the extra teachers is neither sustainable nor brings the desired progress. However, perhaps it is simply a step further on the way. Therefore it is very important that the project will be evaluated carefully in the end of October. After that, further considerations and ideas can be approached.
The weekly English activity with the sponsored students was a good variation to the other, more theoretical projects. Because of the regularly interaction with the young people, we could better understand the problems of the Tanzanian education system. It was good to see their progress in being creative and asking questions. We are glad that we found someone who continues with these activities according to his possibilities.

After the first encounters and meetings, we realized that a project here in the Usambaras cannot be successful, if you approach it with a European perspective. It is important to understand how local people think, feel and act. Without observing that, it could come to misunderstandings, which can be funny but also frustrating. Therefore, we share the attitude of Marion and Herman that it’s very important to show people how they can help themselves. It’s not beneficial just to support them with donations. For all projects it’s so important that Marion and Herman are on the spot, that they always generate new ideas and that they found persons who can take over some of the responsibility. Only by this, sustainable projects are possible.

We thank Herman and Marion for the stay here. It was nice to feel the familial warmth atmosphere. From the beginning we felt good understood. We leave MamboViewPoint with many new impressions and a little melancholy. We are sure, back in Switzerland in our daily routine we will remember several things and many nice details.


At the time we were helping at MamboViewPoint there were 11 students, who are supported by scholarships to go to the private secondary school in Sunga. After two years in secondary school, the students should pass the exam to go further. Last year most of the students failed in this exam.
To be responsible to the donors, it is very important to have an over view about all the students, the results and the attendance. It’s also important to know about problems at school or at home. 

Therefore we: 

  • linked every student with one of the staff who works at MVP and  lives close to the student
  • taught the staff how to bear responsibility for the students
  • created a form for the report of the staff
  • taught the staff in how to use the computer and the report file
  • compared notes with Upendo about the students
  • discussed with Mwanasha and her Mother about boarding school
  • had to inform Haji and his caretaker that Haji is no longer part of the project because he has not  attended school for half a year
  • completed the students forms for the donors on PC

English activities

In the school system of Tanzania the students learn English in  Primary school only few lessons per week. The focus is on grammar.
After primary school, in secondary school, all subjects are taught in English. All the exams are in English. Very often the students don’t understand the topic or the questions because their English level is too low. The students are not creative. In school they learn how to copy and how to fill in gabs but not to think by themselves. It is often not allowed to ask questions or to build own sentences.
The idea of MamboViewPoint is to support the sponsored students with extra English lessons and activities on Sunday.
We started with the activities in the first week we were here and continued every Sunday. During school holiday they attended for a whole week (6 days).
To improve their English and to develop the creativity we looked for a teacher who will continue the English activities on Sundays.  We found a young motivated teacher from Kokai . He joined us during two Sundays and we are happy that he agreed to continue. We will pay him 10 000 TZS every Sunday till December. It is important to do a short evaluation before continuing.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The four day trip through the Usambara Mountains

A four day trip through the Usambara Mountains
By Andy Wittenwiler and Silvia Bretscherfrom Switzerland

This trip started on a Monday morning from MamboViewPoint on the way to Lushoto, the most important city in the Usambaras. This distance is too far to do in one day, so we did it in three parts.

The first part was about 12 km hill up, hill down through a very nice area. Our first overnight was at the Rangwi Sisters, a kind of catholic convent, led by the sisters. We arrived here at around 3 pm. When we arrived, almost immediately a lunch was served. That was a very nice welcome.
On the terrain there was a guesthouse, where we could stay, it was very lovely and clean. It was a new experience to stay in a convent, this was the first time for all of us. The convent was originally built by German missionaries, in the time when Tanzania was a German colony. In the convent was also a secondary school, the first in the Usambara Mountains.
There was an aesthetic and tranquil garden, so that we could relax and charge our batteries for the next day.
After the very nice dinner we went early to bed, because the next day we had to wake up at 7 am for the second hiking day.


This second day led to Papa Moze’s Lodge, the second stop on the way to Lushoto and named after the owner. The distance was about 14 km through very nice green and fertile area. This area is also known as the biggest supplier of vegetables for whole Tanzania and abroad, because of the ideal location in the Usambaras. It is not to hot here and it is wet enough for fertile ground. It’s possible to harvest three times a year.

Papa Moze is a known Lodge for Backpackers and almost the only one in the area on the road to Lushoto. It was a small and cozy lodge and we were on that moment the only guest. After a nice cool bear we took a shower and dinner was served at 7 pm. cooked by a lovely, talented lady. Papa Moze was joining us for dinner, he is a very funny, nice man.
After dinner he asked proudly, if he could show us his coin collection. A big bag appeared with hundreds of coins from all over the world, which he spread on the table. From almost every coin he knew something to tell. I asked him, if he had already Euro coins, he hadn’t. Luckily I had some in my wallet and I gave it to him. He was very pleased and showed it directly to his son. He thanked by giving a very old Tanzania coin and a red Gemstone.
After dinner we took a nice Konjaki and we went to bed. The walk of today was very tough.

The next morning we went up early and we had a nice breakfast. The sun was shining brightly, that was a nice start of the day. The distance to Lushoto was still too far to do it by foot.
Originally the plan of today was, to take a daladala (local minibus) to the starting point of the day. This was not necessary because Papa Moze gave us a lift in his own car, that was much more comfortable, if you compare it with the daladalas.
The walk itself was shorter than the previous day, that was actually good, because the next and last day would be very tough. In between, we stopped in Mullers Mountain Lodge for lunch. This was a nice, in European style built, lodge with a very nice garden and a known place in the wide surrounding area.

After the good lunch we were heading for Lushoto. There we stayed in the Tumaini Lodge, a good address and not expensive.

The 4rd and last day we started by car, 2 ½ hours from Lushoto to the foot of the Mountain where MamboViewPoint is located. The starting point is on 600 m and MamboViewPoint is on 1900 m. So we hat do climb 1300 m in high. We started in the small village Mkundi Mbaro. In the village was a very small local shop, where we bought water. Like often in Tanzania were a lot of children around the shop.
I brought some balloons in my backpack and decided to give them to the children. Suddenly there were many hands to take them. The funny faces of the children were very nice to see. Especially when we started to blow up the balloons. It’s very nice that the children here are happy with something small and simple, something almost unimaginable in Europe.

The walk started flat and we passed a dry riverbed. After that the real job started. It became steeper and steeper. In front of us walked a 10 year old girl in bright colored clothes, carrying a big bag on her head. Our guide told us, that she was from Mambo Village. It was very hard to follow her with the same speed.
Down in the level country, it was very warm and we were swatting a lot, much drinking was necessary. Fortunately for us the sun was not to bright that would make it even more tough. After some short breaks we decided to take lunch after half way. 20 min. later we continued to climb the hill, on our way we passed the mambo Footprints. In a rock along the path you can see some footprints of prehistoric people and animals. Interesting to see and not yet very well known to the big public. Several steps higher, the lodge became into sight and the path became less steep.
Once we arrived in the Lodge there was a warm welcome and cold drinks.
Thanks for the last days, it was a beautiful walk we really can recommend it to everyone!

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