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Friday, April 19, 2013

Sweet & Savory

Me - Marty - Amy
Savoring my final few days with family and friends before I return to TZ.

TZ 2.0

 Cheers to my return to Tanzania.

Current Book List (hard copies that I'm packing)
1.  Our House in Arusha by Sara Tucker
2.  The Invisible Cure by Helen Epstein
3.  Emergency Sex by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait & Andrew Thomson
4.  What Is the What by Dave Eggers
5.  The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith
6.  44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Thanks Dee!)
7.  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Do you have book suggestions for me?
Thanks. Please post with a brief description.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jifundishe Library at Mnazi Secondary School

“Jifundishe” is an empowering Swahili word meaning “Teach yourself.”
“Mnazi” is the Swahili word for “coconut tree.”

Read on to find out more about my secondary schools proposal and 
the wonderful NGO I'm partnering with: Tanzania Reads!

Tanzania Reads, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the aim of improving the educational environment for underprivileged but motivated students in one of the world’s poorest nations.
A product of three former Peace Corps Volunteers’ experiences working at rural Tanzanian schools where resources were limited, Tanzania Reads is focused on developing libraries and other educational resources in schools with the capacity to organize and use them properly. Schools that will receive assistance from Tanzania Reads have been and will be carefully selected based on the viability of their plans to store materials and share them with students and/or the surrounding community.

Our Proposal- written by Students and Teachers at Mnazi Secondary School.

Ward: Mnazi
District: Lushoto
Region: Tanga
Number of students: Currently 381  (Form 1: 120, Form 2: 84, Form 3: 91, Form 4: 89)
Number of teachers: Currently 5
Student : Teacher Ratio: 72:1

Library status: Mnazi Secondary School is in the process of completing construction of a new library. Proposed date of completion May 2012. Currently books are housed in a storage room. Students enter with a teacher and sign out books as needed. One teacher is assigned this duty and holds daily office hours in the book room.

Number of textbooks currently in storage room (all subjects):
Chemistry 149, Biology 191, Physics 131, English 67, Math 163, Kiswahili 122, History 40, Civics 32, and Geography 42

There may be what other schools consider a fair amount of books in the storage room at Mnazi Secondary. Unfortunately, most of books listed above were written based on outdated curriculum and are in very poor condition. Most copies of the soft cover science books are missing pages and severely damaged by weather (humidity) and insects. The students care for the fragile books the best they can by covering them during check-out. As you can see it has become difficult to care for these books as many of the them are over 15 years old.

Amount needed to put quality textbooks and dictionaries in the hands of students at Mnazi Secondary: $2,500

 “Karibu Mnazi!”
“Welcome to Coconut Tree”

This is what you are bound to hear if you venture down the dusty dirt road between the Usambara and Pare mountain ranges in North- Eastern Tanzania. The welcoming spirit of the people of Mnazi ward is beyond generous. In the Swahili language, Mnazi means coconut tree, and there plenty of them scattered at the base of the mountain ranges. Like the majority of rural Tanzania, local families living here survive on less than one dollar a day.

Students studying at Mnazi Secondary School are very bright energetic youth, but they severely lack resources and teachers to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. Last year, only two permanent teachers were on staff. The school functioned with the help of secondary school graduates, called Form 6 leavers, who became temporary teachers as they waited for their college acceptance letters.
The results from the 2011 NECTA (national exam) were clear that the school is in need of serious help. Only 23% of the graduating class passed, and of those students who passed they all ranked in the lowest division. What does this mean? Not one of them has the opportunity to continue on to higher education and the cycle of poverty continues.

Student Spotlight

Name: Anna Noa
Age: 17
Grade Level: Form 4
Favorite subjects: Swahili, history, geography and biology

“I hope to continue with my studies to become a Secondary School teacher. Tanzania has a major shortage of teachers and I want to do my part to help my country develop. Most of all I enjoy learning languages so I would like to teach Swahili and English to my future students. I am very excited to study at the New Jifundishe Library. When it opens it will be my first time to ever enter a true library space.”

Name: Ramadhani Abdallah
Age: 21
Grade Level: Form 4
Favorite subjects: biology, geography, chemistry, physics and mathematics

“I enjoy reading books for pleasure, unfortunately the book options in our current storage center are very few. I know I need to study everyday if I want to achieve my goal of becoming an engineer and working for a Telecommunications company. To me, having a quite place to study with up to date books means I have a chance to succeed!”

What is the school community doing to promote a positive learning environment?

Student Empowerment: Student-created book list. Students took control over creating the book list and budget for this library project – everything you read here has been requested by the students themselves!Construction of a new library space.
World Map Project: The picture above shows our world map, which helps students envision the world beyond Mnazi.
Construction of a New Library Space:

How can you help?

With just $2,500, we can put quality up to date resources in the hands of students studying at Mnazi Secondary. We can contribute over 350 books to the new Jifundishe Library, lowering the student-to-textbook ratio and empowering students to succeed.

click here to      
                                                                 Make a Donation
 at the TZ Reads Website      


Sunday, January 22, 2012

World AIDS Day Events @ Mnazi


On Tuesday November 29, we taught HIV/AIDS lessons to students at Mnazi Primary School. 

The student choir  performed a few songs with excellent dance moves. After we held a question and answer session for teachers and students.  

We finished the afternoon with a local arts group singing and dancing to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.  

On Wednesday November 30, we traveled to Langatandoia Primary School, several miles from my village center. 
Local villagers who reside near the school were invited to watch the students perform and listen to the Doctors lesson. We were all amazed with the performances these young students created to share with us.  They demonstrated the Elephants and Lion game, a short drama about stigma, and sang several songs.  

Because they taught us through several arts examples we chose to change the lesson to a session based on asking them questions about HIV/AIDS.  Students were very excited to receive Si Mchezo magazines for their correct answers. The day ended with the local adult arts group performing.

On Thursday December 1, we began the day at 5:30am, by prepping foods for our nutrition lesson. 
The official testing events began around 10 am. 

The students from both primary schools performed for a crowd of over 500.  

Doctor Wema announced that testing was open and all the local leaders at the high table entered the clinic for an HIV test.  

Within a few short hours we used all 50 testing kits that were provided by the district. 

a Big THANK YOU to Serendipity Endeavors of Livonia, NY for providing red ribbons for Mnazi World AIDS Day events. Everyone that attended and assisted with the testing day received a red ribbon. 
                 Numbers show that 121 others came for testing but were turned away and advised to return again when more kits become available.  The local arts group got the crowd excited again and performed several songs and skits. 
                We then moved inside the clinic, with local leaders and members of "Upendo" our local PLWHA support group. Doctor Wema referenced true and false information on our new HIV/AIDS bulletin board and passed out nutrition packets to everyone. 

We reviewed the information and discussed which foods best support ARV treatments.  Before sharing a nutritious meal together, we allowed the small group of 52 to ask questions. 

Changes--> In our original plan we wanted to attend Mnazi Secondary to provide HIV/AIDS education, but the school closed early after their final examinations.  We decided to return in February when the school reopens with a push to jump start the health club again. 
                Also another BIG change was with the project point person.  Doctor Hendrick Mangowi, had worked with me on every detail of this project. Just two weeks before the event, Doctor Bakari Wema returned from studying in Tanga to take over his original post at Mnazi Rural Health Center.  Doctor Wema did an Outstanding job taking the leadership role of this project with very little time to catch up on the all details.
Much of our work this year was focused on HIV/AIDS education and a push for testing.  I believe this foundation of education will provide an environment where behavior change is possible in the future. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

30's not so bad...

Here's what I did during the week of my 30th birthday!

Map THIS!!!   
...don't forget South Sudan

The World Map Project... a Peace Corps Classic

 We moved walls... here is our new blank dirty canvas. The primary school is near the first wall we picked but those young whipper snappers with all their energy can be some what of a disturbance (imagine that). 

The Headmaster and I shifted the World Map Project to a wall on the other side of the secondary school campus.  This area is covered in shade most of the day making it a popular hang out during break time. A better choice indeed!

First things first, we cleaned the wall and then slapped on a fresh coat of white. It took about 4 liters to cover the entire wall. 
Here is my apprentice/ cousin/ small father, Jonson, up on the ladder.

We finish up the White Wall on Friday and let it dry over the weekend.

and then we did some math...
Total area for the map: 252 cm x 504 cm. 
Since we are using the grid method to aid our drawing efforts, each grid square will be 9cm x 9cm. 

We used a meter stick to measure the map area and started to paint the ocean blue as our map base. This was a excellent suggestion from the World Map Project Book, we won't have to worry about painting the water around all those tiny islands later on!

All the students are excited to help out. 
They wouldn't let me paint for more than a few minutes at a time.

Last touches of blue on Monday afternoon.

... So Fresh and So Clean!

We got back to work on Wednesday by drawing the GRID lines. 
We used white chalk to draw the lines so they can be easily erased later on after drawing. 
Our grid is made up of 28 rows and 56 columns, with a total of 1,568 squares.

Coming Soon... Drawing and Painting THE WORLD MAP!!!

Yum a Liberry... Even tastier than a strawberry!

So as we wait for the library structure to be completed we are in process of requesting book donations, creating a floor plan for the furniture and organizing our current inventory. 

There are so many NGO's that give used books but most of them send in Sea Containers. 
With 10,000- 25,000 books inside they can be very difficult to manage at customs and with transport to the village. We have decided to avoid the hassle and focus on small donors and maintaining the books we do have.

Here we are making a plan to organize our current room that houses the few beat up books we have.

Each student was given a different course subject and tasked to write down the author, title, publisher and quantity of books in the book room.

We had a lot of work, but about 10 students volunteered to help.

...and it got worse before it got better... YIKES! 

Starting to get things in order... Mwalimu (Teacher) Shabani was a great leader for this task! Bravo!

Much Better and ready to get moved to the NEW Library when it is finished.

Here is the current state of the new library... 

and a peak inside!

Next set of tasks: follow up with small scale book donors and the Tanzanian Library Board Services for librarian training.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cheers to YOU Anna!

What do most girls ask for for their birthday 9th birthday???

I’m guessing an I-pod upgrade, a better cell phone plan with more txt messages, her own bathroom, fashionable clothing…  and I’m sure this list would be updated on an hourly basis.

But not my Anna Ndizi (banana in Swahili)  she gave away her 9th birthday to help others.  That’s right, my fantastic and incredibly selfless NINE year old niece chose to ask family and friends to make donations to my Peace Corps projects instead of receiving presents.

In honor of Anna’s 9th Birthday and generous donation, here’s what we are planning:

The World Map Project
Barbara Jo White (Dominican Republic '87-'89) created The World Map Project while serving in the Peace Corps.
Our blank canvas. We chose this wall at the school because it gets the most foot traffic and this wing is closest to the neighboring primary school. The plan is to assign numbers to all the countries after painting. On the left side of the map we will write the country names in English and on the right side in Kiswahili. This will give all the students at the secondary school and primary access to it.

The Form 4 students will finish NECTA exams next week (13/10) and then we can get started. First a fresh coat of white for the whole wall. Then we will measure the 2.52 meter by 5.4 meter space for the map. That entire section will be painted blue and then the grid drawing will begin.  After that painting and labels…

photo taken from the WMP website.  We hope ours will be this GREAT!
Book Donations for the new library

The construction of the secondary school library began in January.  The ceiling beams and large rocks for the floor are the latest update to our progress.  If all goes well the library will open in December 2011.  The biggest problem we face for the future library is the lack of quality books.  The few books we have are outdated and in poor condition. We only have one book (three copies) on the English required reading list from the ministry of education. This year, my form 4 students, 72 in all, shared one English to Kiswahili dictionary.  Can you imagine trying to study physics or chemistry in a foreign language without a dictionary to help translate?

Anna’s birthday money will go towards buying books, dictionaries, and study guides from local publishers. I will work with my  headmaster to form a small committee of students and teachers to create a wish list and to find book dealers who can give us a discount for buying in bulk. To round out our libraries book selection, I am in contact with the Tanzania Library Services Board and several local NGO’s that coordinate overseas book donations.  Last but not least I am reading Libraries for All, a great book on how to set up and manage a library. Once the building is complete and we have books I look forward to holding training sessions for those students who want to work as librarians.

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY ANNA + I LOVE YOU!  I am so Proud of YOU!  and Thank You to everyone who made a donation to Anna.

and some Stevie Wonder just for the b-day girl:'Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I'm sure you will agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Monday, August 29, 2011

I wish I could do that...

When I returned back to site from a successful MSC (mid service conference) I found my house was glowing! I had solar power installed while I was off in Dar sharing best practices with my fellow PCVs.

This is LIFE changing (because I have power) in just the past few days I...

  • Typed & sent applications to the embassy via email giving two secondary students a chance to attend a leadership conference in America.
  • Gave three friends basic computer lessons.
  • Uploaded American music to my friends phone
  • Typed and emailed my application to be a facilitator at the next PST
  • Studied Swahili at night
  • Watched a few episodes of Glee

  • I made an online donation to support my friends primary school renovation project.

Yes, even on my $170/month budget I was able to give. I support this community's effort to finish work on their dilapidated primary school. I hope you can read on below, how the whole village will be positively affected by a donation.

What your money will DO:
1. Complete construction on existing structures to allow needed expansion of school classrooms.

2. Construct school library that would be available to all community members for continue education.

3. Through construction phase of project create skill building training sessions for out of school youth. (i.e. carpenter skills, cement laying skills, brick building and laying skills)

4. Through Primary School Renovation Committee train members (including women) project management and financial book keeping skills.

5. Build/Strengthen Collaboration efforts between community groups both formal and informal.

Thinking about getting me a 30th birthday gift or Christmas present...
Instead please make a donation

click the link below____________

Primary School Renovation Project