One Brick and One Meeting at a Time

Greetings and gratitude from Lucas and me! I’m happy to share some updates with you about the progress toward opening Amahoro Secondary School in Mgaraganza Village, Tanzania.

This past August, I traveled to the Kigoma region to visit with Lucas and check the progress of our project. I was a little surprised to see that very little actual work had been done since his April update. In other words, construction was at a standstill – halted due to lack of funding. As usual, the wheels were set into motion when I arrived.

Meeting Local and Regional Leaders

The Village Leaders The first line of business was to visit the regional leaders from various Ministries in the government. I was invited to a meeting in Kigoma town to address the leaders and share my gratitude, concerns, and hopes moving forward. We expressed our gratitude about their recent commitment to contributing to the construction of teachers’ houses and laboratories* for the school. We noted our concerns about the pressure of fundraising and challenge of meeting the opening day deadline. We stressed the need for the government to continue their support until the end. We also shared our enthusiasm for the possibility of teacher education and teacher exchange in the future (my ‘pet’ plan for ensuring quality education at this school). They applauded our efforts and echoed our hopes and excitement.

*Note: Recent legislation in Tanzania mandates that no school open without laboratories in place. While this places a huge obstacle in the road for opening schools in villages, it aims to address the current plight of village schools, which is the prevalence of unmet promises by school administrators and leaders to follow-up on the construction of laboratories. Most village schools never see spaces for students to explore physics, chemistry, and biology to the extent necessary for measurable success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.Mr. Maneno, Rai and Diwani Maganga

We also met with the Kigoma District Commissioner, Mr. Maneno who guaranteed his support for this project. Mr. Maneno is new to his position as of this year. He made a trip to the village to visit the school and meet with the local village leaders. He was very impressed by the work that had been completed thus far. He gave speeches of praise to the local leaders, community members, and workers. He also promised to do everything in his power to make sure the school opens in January 2014.

Of course, we had our own meetings with the village leaders. We discussed my concern over the delay in work in recent months. We identified a breakdown in communication between political leaders in town who disperse the money, and the village leaders who sign for and collect the money. Our faithful Chief Maganga stepped in and made some phone calls to make sure the funds would be released. This money would allow our builders to complete the entrances to each classroom.

Students Rally to Help at AmahoroMeeting with the Children

Our most important stakeholders are the children. There are a handful of them who are present at the school for every gathering of the leaders (mostly because they live next to the school). The kids showed us thClearing the Assembly Areaeir twist on using the classroom space in the months leading up to the school opening (see photo).

In the month after my visit, Lucas rallied the students of Mgaraganza Primary School to come and do a clean up at the secondary school. They came with brooms and tools to prepare the assembly area in front of the classrooms. Of course, they didn’t harm any of the lovely trees that will shade them as they have their daily morning assembly!

Meeting our new Headmaster, Mr. Kumenya

Mr. Kumenya

Headmaster, Mr. Kumenya

In September, Janet Chapman – a UK-based volunteer with GlobalGiving and the communications manager with the Tanzania Development Trust – visited Lucas and took time to learn about our project. She met the village leaders and Lucas, and made a video allowing us to introduce our new Headmaster, Mr. Kumenya. We hope that her response to the visit is positive and that she can help us garner more international support to complete the school.

At present, my plan is to be in Tanzania again this coming December/January for the opening of the first phase of the school!

But, we’re not there yet. The missing pieces at the moment include the latrines that are required before a school can be open (for obvious reasons). If you can chip in today, you can help us channel money to the project so that we can get them into place on the school site. Every little bit counts, as you know! (Why didn’t I think of the Ice Bucket Challenge!?) As always, we can do NOTHING without you! Thank you so much for your support thus far. Please spread the word wide and far. Just click DONATE to your right. Asante sana!

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