So, after time off yet again, this time with a strange eyeball eating bacteria (I kid you not, must remember to blog about the hospital visit – hi-lar-i-ous, in an “Oh god I’m going to have to look good with an eye-patch” kind of way) I’m back teaching at Bugando. The next few weeks are on the topic of animals (originally entitled “Safari Animals” until my friend pointed out that a pig is not a safari animal…).
First lesson started with an attempt at classroom management by removing all the desks and sitting on a katanga on the floor. The attempt failed spectacularly, not only because I had brought a narrow, rectangular piece of material but the kids were horrified at the thought of getting dusty bottoms. Knowing the state of their uniforms I was rather suprised but admired the fact they were so conscientious about looking nice. The other, more successful, attempt to control things was reinforcements. Ah, I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to share with others the responsibility of sorting out the fighting, lack of sharing, occasional stabbing (with newly sharpened pencil). Amber and Emma, old volunteers from Forever Angels and now friends of mine, are here for an 8 month stint and kindly volunteered to help and the difference was enormous. They’re a demanding lot at the best of times, especially when there’s something creative to do, so it was so nice to be able to meet the demands for glue and tissue paper and general attention quicker than normal.
The lesson involved learning the signs for each animal I’d brought a photo of (Safari Animals also included cats, dogs and cows but hey, resources are tight here. You’ve got to use what you can find!). Afterwards everyone did there own Acacia tree from torn paper and then a hand-print elephant to stick under it.
The following week the topic continued. We started with some handwriting practise and getting the English and KiSwahili down for the animals. The next creative part was making a mask of one of the animals. It’s so hard to know what to do. All Tanzanian children are used to having to copy down from the board and ensuring it is exactly as written or they are punished. So, when I brought a mask of a lion that I’d made at home to show them what I was talking about, what did everyone then make? Yep, a lion mask also. But it’s so hard to teach kids, who are not encouraged to free think and never do anything creative, to come up with their own ideas. I’m just going to keep pushing this angle and hopefully have a breakthrough at one point. The masks were pretty beautiful if a little eccentric and it broke my heart that they all wanted to wear them home.
But enough about the lessons, what’s happening with Raleigh Kirst? Well, I have just received an email from them and they’re coming Tuesday as in next week. Hurrah! I honestly couldn’t tell you how the school feel about it – it’s not clear if they think it’s a positive thing or not. I’m just hoping that they’ll see what can come from having a working relationship with Raleigh. As the only Deaf Unit that’s free in Mwanza and as a government school that provides free education, it’s a valuable resource for the community, especially for those who can’t afford to send their children to other schools. The link will hopefully bring more money, new volunteers, possibility of becoming an NGO some day. I really hope it works out.
On another note, I’ve also been in contact with Tanzatoto, the organisation that produced the sign books for the kids. They’ve agreed to let me visit their organisation in Morogoro, which is very exciting, to visit their Deaf schools and meet up with the teachers. It’s not happening until May but I’m very excited!
Enjoy the pictures – the kids are cute sana – and keep your fingers crossed for Tuesday.