Apologies for being out of touch the past few weeks. It has been a fast and furious time! My good friend Anna from NYC was here…we went on safari, visited Zanzibar, and made some major steps forward with the projects.
MAVINUNI SCHOOL UPDATE:
First let me update you on the Mavinuni School — The Little Project. I am thrilled to announce that we now have the funds we need to buy the iron sheets (galvanized aluminum roofing) for the classroom! Also, with the help of Anna’s mom, we secured the funds for the nails. Thank you, Mrs. Wright! The local community has already supplied the timber for the roofing beams. So, we are now merely waiting for the parents of the children to give the rest of their money for the labor costs…and for the September break to come. Construction is scheduled to start on or after September 10th, when the kids will be out of school for a two-week break. Fingers crossed that everything comes together!
Anna and I visited the school last week, took a ton of photos and recorded this VIDEO (if link does not work, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87m5Az-c4RQ). It is exactly the type of message we are trying to get across about education. Take a look – and “Come and Join Us!”
The next thing we will need for the Mavinuni School are DESKS! We are estimating each desk to cost approximately $20US (30,000Tsh). We will need 28 more desks (two have already been secured with funds from the Wright family – thank you Toni and Olin!). We will also need a teacher’s desk and teacher’s chair. Costs for these are estimated at $20US (30,000Tsh) and $10US (15,000Tsh), respectively.
(An itemized list is posted under the HOW YOU CAN HELP tab above.)
OLDONYO SAMBU SCHOOL UPDATE:
Now onto Oldonyo Sambu – The Big Project.
Phew. What a week! On Thursday, my project manager Thomas, Ujumbe Magazine editor Victor, my friend Anna, myself, and our driver Justin squeezed into a Toyota Corolla and made the trek out to Oldonyo Sambu. This wasn’t your every day safari, let me tell you: Bumpy, half-built, diverson-filled roads. A rolled landcruiser blocking traffic for about a mile. Three inches of dust on the car by the time we arrived. And then PARLIAMENT. No, not the national one, but still quite an important one in its own right: the Oldonyo Sambu Village Parliament.
This group of gentleman and one woman met us at a nursery school/community building, invited us to sit on preschool-size desks, and listened to our explanation of what we are trying to do. Thomas spoke on my behalf, as did Victor, who is also Maasai. The meeting went something like this: Thomas explained the project. The Village Chairman asked many questions. A couple members emphasized how important it is to go through the village parliament for projects such as this (they have reports they must file, have the ability to organize the community behind the project, and generally just like to be kept in the loop). The Village Chairman thanked (Sir) Thomas for his help in bringing this project to the community, then asked questions to me on what I need from them in terms of supplies and partnership. Then Victor said a few words about how time is of the essence with this project. And we concluded with a few rounds of Thank you, Asante sana, and Ashe nale. The board seemed very happy with the project and promised to provide labor, sand, and stone…and perhaps cement, but I couldn’t make that part out specifically.
It was a relief and an honor to receive their blessing on the project. Without the community’s partnership, this project would be a waste of time and energy. Our whole point is to build community through school building…and thankfully, we now have the community’s backing. YAY!
After our meeting, we piled back into the car and headed to the school. Here, Anna and Victor got to see firsthand the state of deterioration this place is in…and how many students are jammed into the classrooms. We played a quiz game with the Grade 7 kids – giving them pens and pencils that Anna and Victor had brought as prizes. It was hilarious – especially when they started asking questions to us in English. We were expecting “Where are you from? Or What is your name?” Instead, we got: What year did Pakistan and India unite? Yikes!
Then we headed to the Mungayo house for tea. Anna got to see the inside of a Maasai boma (mud house) – which I think impressed her. Very simple living, but still quite nice. Thomas, Anna, Victor and I played with the kids for quite a bit – they were astounded by Anna’s blonde hair. It’s definitely not something you see very often in the Maasailands. And I got to see all of the local kids I have met over the years (school was out for the day by this time). It was really cool to see all of the little faces, grown by a year or two now, but all still recognizable! So much fun!
In terms of the budget for the Oldonyo Sambu school, we are also pretty far along it…and we should have an itemized list for that posted shortly – once I confirm a few last prices.
So that’s the latest. I’ll be updating Facebook with more photos of the schools shortly. Please check out the HOW YOU CAN HELP tab above for more information on how to donate.
Thank you, Asante sana, and Ashe nale to all of you for your continued support, inspiration, offers to help, and much-needed guidance.
I hope you are all having a great end of the summer – and getting ready for the school year. Education is for everyone – so please support your local schools and community learning centers!!! (And watch the video…I think you’ll love it!)
All the best to you and yours,