"We Care" Shipments to Tanzania

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

AMANI GIRLS SECONDARY SCHOOL MANYONI, TANZANIA

Greetings from Manyoni, Tanzania

I traveled to Manyoni en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manyoni  from Dodoma the headquarters in Tanzania for the Adorers last Thursday, Feb. 3rd.  I went by car with one of the sisters and their driver.  It took about 1 ½ hrs on a well paved two lane highway. 

There are approximately 15 sisters at Manyoni in Singida region of Tanzania.  The sisters work in different ministries like catechetical, parish work, nursery school, teaching in schools and health services. 

Amani Teachers - Happy Teachers make Happy Students
I am staying with the sisters at the Amani Girls Secondary School (Amani means Peace in Swahili).  There are about 8 sisters here.  Some teach in the girl’s school several do health care work.  The sisters have a sister’s home on the property, plus garden and also a separate building for aspirants who are in studies to possibly become a sister.
The girl’s school is a boarding school for approximately 260 girls from within about 150 miles of Manyoni.  Some come further away.  The girls live in dormitories some large with 50 bunk beds in one room others maybe 20-25 bunk beds. They are very modest rooms.  For 50 girls their might be only 3 toilets which would include a shower, sink and toilet in one room.  There are no closets.  Each girl has a small suitcase, towel and blanket for their things they keep on their bed.  Extra clothes are kept in a store room in a metal type suitcase.  The girls wear a brown pleated skirt, white blouse and cardigan sweater.  Black shoes and white socks.  When school is over they change into a T-Shirt and a different skirt sometimes.  No slacks are worn.   The toilets are what you call Asian style with a hole in the floor.  Not a sit down toilet.  Often when we think of boarding schools we think of luxury.  This is not luxury but adequate for the girls.  Most of these girls do not come from wealthy parents.  But parents who want to see that their daughters get an education.  The fees for one complete year (two semesters) from January to December 1st are 1 million Tanzania shillings that include board and room, uniform and books.  Some of the parents can’t pay the entire fees so the sisters try to get donors to help sponsor the girls.
There are 14 teachers including 4 sisters and the rest lay teachers.  They teach the typical things we do in secondary school, math, physics, chemistry, history, geography etc.  The classes are taught in English (British accent) so I have a difficult time sometimes in understanding them and they me.  But we manage. 

Most of the instruction by the teachers is done with blackboard/whiteboard.  They do not have one audio visual equipment…no projectors, DVD’s etc.  The computer teacher has computers about 30-40 none of them have internet access.  He does not have power point to give them instructions on Word, Excel etc.  He has to go from student to student or uses a whiteboard.  Very difficult as you can imagine.

All the teachers are in need of a lap top that they can use with power point and project on the walls for instruction.  Of course they need the ability to show DVD’s that are pertinent to their subject.  For instance, I was invited by one of the History teachers to speak on World I.  The students had never seen a film on World War I.  Hard to imagine.

I also taught English in Form 1 and Form 4 class.  I discussed where I was from and how our typical USA high school student might be like, differences and similarities.  

There is only one internet connection for the entire school in the principal’s office.  It is a land line. 

The Adorers came to Manyoni in 1969 and started providing education to the children without selection.  They first established a home craft school for girls who lived in the little town of Manyoni and the villages in the surrounding area of Manyoni.  Later they established the secondary school according to the needs of the time.  The secondary school is a 4 years, Form I through Form 4.  In Tanzania the high school is a 6 year program.  So when the girls finish here at Amani then they will go back to their homes and hopefully most of them will pursue 2 more years so they can go on to college.

The Adorers are in the planning stage of seeking to build a school near by where they have some land for a school that would include Form 1 through Form 6 then the girls would be ready to pursue college if they passed the national exam.   The school here is not large enough to house more girls for Form 5 and 6.  The school here would continue but would have more vocational courses.  Presently they offer tailoring as a vocational course.  I spent one morning with the students in tailoring teaching English.  We had a great time.  The girls have a very good sense of humor.  They can read English quite well but speaking it…they are very shy.  Of course the problem is like any foreign language you have to speak it to become fluent.  The problem as I see it is that they speak in their mother tongue Swahili when they talk to each other so only converse in class with the teacher in English..  That is also a problem with the teachers; they revert back to talking to each other in Swahili.  The reason English is encouraged in fact required is that if they want to go on to college they will have to be proficient in English.  All classes are taught in English.

The class day begins at 8:00 am and ends at 3:10 pm.  The girls have one delapated outdoor basket ball court that needs resurfacing badly.  They have a volley ball field which they like playing very much.  Their PE courses are really don’t exist as we have them in the USA.  I know the girls like physical activity.  Hopefully in the future they could have more PE like tennis and softball.  The weather is conducive to playing sports outside all year.  They do not have a track or stadium.

I could go on and on but will just a few additional points:

Library very very limited only a few books, no audio visuals, no librarian, books locked up and students must go to secretary to check out or use a book…
Laboratory for biology etc…very very very limited most teaching by theory because they don’t have materials for experiments
Teachers need laptop with power point for instruction desperately
Teachers need better access to internet for their research and lesson planning
Students need a language lab in the library for developing better English skills (ear phones with computer etc)
Library needs a TV with educational DVD’s for all subject areas taught
Library needs lots of books relevant to the subjects taught as well as novels etc.
The students have one TV in the dining room which acts as their common room. Their is no recreation area.  They are allowed about 1 or 2 hours of viewing on Saturday.  A large screen with a projector for showing DVD’s and some TV programs would be a special treat.

The students are not allowed to have cell phones, radios, mp 3 players etc.

The dormitories need some very needed renovation and maintenance. The school buildings have deteriorated due to long period of use without adequate repair.  This seems to be a problem in maintenance.  Electric and plumbing repair is badly needed.  One of the problems is that there are no local craftsman in this area who can do electric and plumbing.  You must remember that many of the rural homes do not have electricity or running water.  They carry water for miles to their home in plastic large jugs.

The school is fortunate to have good running water.

The pictures are an array of photos in no certain order.  But all from the Manyoni area.

On Sunday, Sr. Lucina and I went with one of the Precious Blood priests, Fr. Geofray from the local parish about 6 blocks from the school to two outlying little villages.  The priests 3 of them minister to the parish here in Manyoni and 23 outlying (stations).  They might get to each (station) once a month.  The people in the village are so grateful to have the priest come to say Mass and be with them in prayer.  It was a wonderful experience going over dirt roads in the priest old Toyota pickup some roads are like cow paths.  We left at 8:30 am and returned to the sister’s home about 2:30 pm.  The villages were about 5-15 miles away.  I only saw one other car on the road during our travels to the villages.  Most people walk and some have bicycles and just a few motor scooters.  Neither of the two villages have a water pump.  People must walk miles and miles to a dirty river to get water.  I saw two women carrying 5-10 gallon jugs on their head.  I asked father what they are carrying, he shouted out to the women and they said water.  I thought it might be grain of some type.  I said a prayer for those women.  How strong and courageous are these women.  Another women walked by caring a little baby on her back covered with a shawl.  Father spoke with her in Swahili and then interpreted the conversation to m e.  She had come about 8 miles trying to get help for her baby who was vomiting.  She came to this little village because there is a maternity center there.  However, it was Sunday and the nurse was not in the center.  So she went to look for the nurse in the village.  I never saw the women again.  My hope was that she was able to find help for the baby.  It seems impossible at times that life is so difficult for some.

The Adorers have next door a Day Hospital would be like an outpatient clinic. They do deliveries as well as take care of out patient type of illnesses.  There is a public hospital several blocks away.  However, I’ve told it is not a very good hospital.  Unfortunately the Day hospital does not have x-ray but does have a lab.  A doctor comes and goes.  At the time I don’t believe they have a full time doctor.  One of the sisters, Sr. Delfina who is a midwife goes to the Day Hospital each day.  When I was at the hospital on Saturday she was attending to two patients adult women with malaria who was getting IV’s.  She would be there for 3 days and a small child about 1 year old possibly with malaria.  Sr. Delfina is Italian and has been here for many years.  She speaks fluent Swahili but little English.

The sisters take turns cooking each day for themselves.  They make very tasty food all fresh.  No recipe books, just simple dishes.  Typically rice, potatoes, red beans, a Chinese leaf vegetable that is similar tasting to our spinach, sweet potatoes that taste some what like ours but are white in color, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, porridge, stiffen porridge millet hot cereal, cumbers, okra, onions, garlic.  They usually only use salt for seasoning.
They usually only have meat on Sunday and Monday.

I ask them if I could make a dinner for them and they said yes.  So yesterday with the help of Sr. Lucy and Sr. Basilisa, I made Chicken Vesuvius, fresh carrots, potatoes with the chicken baked, salad of fresh green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers (they do not use dressing) so I made some with oil, vinegar, salt and oregano.  Then for dessert fresh pineapple with fruit smoothie and fresh coconut and cheese.  The sisters enjoyed the dinner and it was fun to prepare it with the sisters.

The sisters begin their day with prayer at 6:00 am then Mass and don’t eat their dinner meal till about 7:30 pm.  On weekends they might take a siesta in the heat of the day but during the week they are all busy with their projects.

Tomorrow I leave Manyoni for my journey to the next mission in Songea, Tanzania.  It will take me 2 days to get to Songea.  A bus ride about 14 hours.  I will be visiting with the St. Joseph Hostel for Girls.  A small school of about 60 girls from rural area that live at the school.

I’ve enjoyed my stay with these lovely sisters, teachers and students.  Everyone welcomes you with a kind smile and a handshake. 

I’m sorry that the post have been infrequent but computer is limited as well as the electricity almost goes off daily sometimes for 5 hours.  Tanzania is experiencing very dry weather with a reduction of water generator electricity.

If any of you reading this blog have extra laptop for power point use please keep Amani Girls Secondary School in mind.  I can give you more specifics on a needs list when I get back to the USA in April. 

Blessings to all,

Diane

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post Diane. Always so good to hear from you and know you are well and hear all about the children and their way of life. God bless them.
    Take care and stay well.
    Thinking of you,
    Love, your cousin,
    Joan

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  2. Hi Diane!
    Steve and I really enjoyed this article, pictures , and knowing you are well and doing Gods' good works! God Bless and Keep you.
    Kay

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  3. thanks for the posts...it is good to hear from my friends and family in the usa...i am in songea, tanzania at the st. joseph hostel for girls...i'll send a blog update later this week......

    i'm doing great...feeling well and it is such an eye opener....

    diane

    ReplyDelete