This year was a little different for me as the children were on school holidays. I usually spend the morning teaching at school and afternoons working on completing projects, this year I had more time to spend planning, having meetings and learning more about how to effectively do things in Tanzania and the processes ( or lack of) we need to follow to achieve some of our goals.
My first week was spent meeting with Mr Massawe to discuss and agree our plans for the future, and what we need to do to get there. Mr Massawe has done a lot of work in recent months to start the process of setting the school up to gain Primary accreditation. This in itself is a simple process, with min requirements for land size, classrooms, teachers, etc. However there is no document that articulates this for you and criteria 'changes' slightly for every application. We decided to spend time speaking with other people who have gone through the same process and compile our own checklist of requirements. We then discovered each step of the approval process will have its own challenges.
For example, I went with Mr Massawe to meet with local council to obtain our land title deed – here we found even when you submit all your paperwork, it ‘goes missing’ but if you pay some money it will miraculously appear again.
Also the professor we have hired to complete our Submission, has gone on holidays for a month and didn’t tell anyone. You start to understand very quickly why it takes soooo long to get anything done, but I must admit I quite enjoy it and find it a nice, if at times frustrating, challenge.
Week two saw us complete the medical examinations for all the children (see previous blog post). It was great to see all the children again, and I think they were excited to see me when even the kids who completed their checkups on day 1 came back on the second day – although I really think it was the peanut butter sandwiches and juice that they really came back for.
Week three saw the arrival of our wonderful friends from Star Water Pumps to drill our well. This was a pretty exciting day for us all, even though there was no guarantee we would find water just getting to this stage was a huge achievement for us all. A huge thankyou to Mr Ron Reed from California, who made everything possible.
Ron set up this project about 10 years ago to address the chronic water issues in Tanzania. He shipped over a small drill rig from the US and started training local Tanzanians how to drill, he now has up to 7 drilling rigs, employs over 50 Tanzanians, and has completed over 350 wells - improving access to fresh, clean water for a fraction of the cost of big organisations. (I was originally quoted over $25,000 and this project will cost us less the $5000 through Ron and his team)
Drilling commenced on Wednesday, and I was amazed when I arrived at School on Friday to find we had already hit the water table at 95 feet. Unfortunately, our first attempt was not successful as it did not deliver enough water, so we are currently still drilling – fingers crossed we find sufficient water soon and next month they will return to install solar panels and pump that will pump the water to our tank (that we installed last year). Mr Massawe is currently obtaining costs to install our drip irrigation system for our vegetable garden.
Finally Mr Massawe and I hit the shops, stocking up on simple supplies for the school, excercise books, sugar, soap etc. We also decided this year, to work to improve the nutrient value of the school porridge so have also bough ground nuts and sardines, which are also ground, into the porridge.
Overall a hugely successful trip, not only achieving all we set out to do this visit, but feeling a lot more clear and comfortable with what we need to over the next few years.
Thanks once again to everyone who has donated money and makes all this wonderful work possible. You really are making a huge difference to the live of many wonderful people and children.
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