“Yes and he knows it. He’s the smartest, the cutest and the naughtiest in my class”
Hassani and Abdallah were following us about, posing for pictures, as Jim took an inventory of the school, recording the various different areas that Raleigh could help with should the school agree to it. I’d picked him up from the airport only an hour before and now myself and Jim, escorted by Raymond and Fubusa (trailed by Hassani and Co.) were taking a tour of the school. There is a lot that can be done at Bugando.
The school is not so much under resourced as completely impoverished. Whilst there is a marked difference between the state of the classrooms in the Deaf Unit and those of the main school, the whole school needs to be redone. There are holes in the roofs where the rain can pour in and render half the classroom unusable. The floor of the children’s toilets were so dirty as to make it impossible to see where the actual drop toilet is. There were also hundreds of maggots across the floor, eating the waste.
The playground also is filled with rubble and so many times my lot have coming running down to meet me and face-planted in the dirt, badly cutting their hands and knees on the rocks.
Following the tour, a meeting was held to discuss what needed doing and what the school wanted support to achieve. The refurbishment of the Deaf Unit was a priority, fixing floors, installing new blackboards, increased security on windows and doors so that visual aids couldn’t be stolen or destroyed (hurrah!), and chairs and tables to be made for everyone (double hurrah!!).
There were some great ideas for school leavers of the Deaf Unit. Due to poor access to education and the insistence that Deaf children must repeat a year whether they pass it or not, many will leave primary school at 18 without passing. this means they cannot continue to secondary school, have difficulty finding work and many return to the village with no prospects and no future. The project with Raleigh will require the use of local tradesmen, carpenters, plumbers etc who will make the furniture, improve sanitation, and so on and so forth. Deaf school leavers can be invited in to work alongside the local tradesmen and be taught how to fix doors, mend leaks etc, so that, should a table break, instead of the school buying a new one they can ask one of the leavers to come and fix it, thereby supporting the ex student and saving the school money.
Raleigh is also keen to find out if any siblings of children from the Deaf Unit also go to Bugando and to set up short signing courses so that they can communicate with their brother or sister. Education appears to be a big part of a Raleigh project and whilst improving sanitation for example they would be keen to teach health and hygiene and other life skills to everyone involved with the project.
The list goes on and Jim seemed undeterred and encouragingly enthusiastic. the school themselves were hesitatnt and shy, often wanting Jim to direct them as to what should be done. But all finally agreed that they could be partners and a project could be started.
So now what,
Well, the main hitch is money. Raleigh provide the means and the muscle but not the funds so I need to help the school to find this and Jim will be speaking to his findraising team. Having contacted Terres de Hommes and the international department of NDCS and not had my emails acknowledged, I think this is going to be tricky. For the Deaf unit I’m anticipating only costs of £2,000-3.000 as it’s not so much structural as a fix up job. But for the other work, such as building an audiology centre and new classrooms it’s going to be more.
And that’s another thing. Whilst I pride myself on being familiar with a drill and capable of quite a neat dovetail joint, there’s no way I can just look at a floor and guage how much cement it needs to fix it. So, I’m going to have to find someone a little handier to help me.
I’m furiously attempting to teach myself the art of proposal writing – another reason why I need someone’s help for the costing of the work.
There’s also another factor. Raleigh mostly work in rural areas making the enforcement of their no drinking no smoking policy relatively easy. This will be less so in the middle of Tanzania’s second largest city and there have been concerns about the logistics of this.
But I remain optimistic. They’ve asked me if would be interested in helping to facilitate the project which got a big yes and triple booking of my Kiswahili lessons. I think once we’ve got the first project underway it will be much easier to fundraise for the second.
To that end, as always I will place the details of my justgiving account at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to make a contribution i think you already know how gratefully it will be received and what a difference it will make.
Keep your fingers crossed everyone and any ideas for fundraising let me know.
P.S. Oh and Lucy, Harriet, I guess this means you need to get your running shoes on x