Paul Bundy & Jennie Price
What an adventure! The highs and lows were in equal measure and both came with heart break and smiles! We have never witnessed such happy children with so very little. From the moment we arrived at Maweni School we were met with crowds of joyful faces. Teachers that couldn’t wait to make our acquaintance and children scrambling all over each other to get a closer look at the ‘special visitors’ or even a brief touch of our hands or arms. At the welcome assembly we were sat on chairs under a shady tree to be amazed with a cacophony of singing, drumming and rhythmic dancing! The children were delighted to show us what they could do and wiggled their little hips with all their might! Within moments of us being present at the school we knew that they were so appreciative of us spending time travelling to Maweni to see them all. This was evident because of the many displays of affection teamed with all of the traditional touches, like the dancing and the beautiful African clothes that we were gifted on our first day. Not only do we bring the children and staff joy that they are hosting us but we, as a school, make such a huge difference in improving their lives and enabling them healthier options.
The projects that we have supported Maweni School in so far are proving hugely successful. Upon a tour of the school grounds Wallace spoke of the difference the water tank was making. The children now have fresh water to drink during the day and the over flow water goes into a huge basin that the children can wash up in and irrigate the plants and gardening area with. It is true to report that there is an element of education required to teach the children that the water basin is not for drinking out of as the water is visually dirty with a slightly scummy surface and a mob of mosquitos buzzing over it, however we only saw a small amount of children still using it for drinking on the whole. And it has to be mentioned that sadly even the scummy water was better than the previous method of drinking water at the school. The water harvester saves the school accounts 50,000 tzs each month where they would usually buy the water from the prison. So now they are able to repurpose the money into other areas of the school, like the ingredients for the ouji (a salty porridge slop).
Wallace is keen to work on the sustainability of his school. He does not see Hanley Swan as a bank role for Maweni. He values our friendship above all else. However, we are fully aware that there are still many small and large projects that we can support them with to enable Maweni to use their resources and maintain themselves in the future. Currently Wallace is keen to build and stock a chicken house so that they can sell the eggs to the neighbouring community, shops and the prison. The plan is to have 105 chickens (100 female and 5 male), they will lay 100 eggs per day which will then be sold with the proceeds going to pay for the lady that cooks the children only meal, ouji.
From Hanley Swan’s point of view we can now give the children a fantastic new angle on life…a different perspective. The global aspect that our partnership with Maweni has enriched our school in many ways. Our children get to see the lives of similar aged children in Maweni, they gain an understanding of the school day and the home life of these children. In material terms our children are given the world in comparison. On our visit this year we gave every child a pencil that Hanley Swan School and the community had donated. The child lit up as we gave them their very own pencil, a prized possession! The next day we returned and found that the children did not let go of their pencil, it was firmly in their grasp for our entire visit. Too afraid to lose it, or have it taken away from them. Can you imagine our children just being given a pencil this Christmas? We can imagine their disgruntled little faces already! When we talked about our gifts to the Maweni children, our children were surprised that they would be so happy with a simple pencil. It was a good lesson learned!
By displaying photos and special items from Tanzania we can demonstrate to the children that the landscape and general environment is very varied. They can make comparisons between the classrooms, the garden, houses, and methods of transport, animals and shopping experiences. Equally when we visit Maweni we held a question and answer lesson for the classes, when asked about buying food they found it amazing that we went to supermarkets to buy our groceries, including fruits and vegetables, trying to explain an Asda superstore was a tricky concept; as tricky as explaining to our children that the little wooden shacks were the main source of purchasing items that you could not grow yourself.
Our partnership with Maweni is a resounding success and grows year on year. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved. Thank you to the two head teachers Mr Pratley and Wallace for their drive to keep the project going. Thank you to the children from both schools for their enthusiasm and energy for the project. Finally and most importantly thank you to the parents and local community for their overwhelming support and continual fundraising. This was most evident in our recent ‘African Adventure’ presentation when we had a huge turnout and a very positive response from everyone – positive about everything apart from the taste of ouji!!
On the whole global learning and an appreciation of how lucky we are in this country is not something that we can buy our children and in our quaint little village it is not easily accessed or understood by our children. This partnership, our friendship enriches us all in many ways and goes well beyond just fundraising.