Friday, July 1, 2016

Tumaini Secondary School

Our final destination on Monday was the new Tumaini Secondary School just outside the town of Makayuni. Wow! The school opened in January of 2016 to fulfill a dream of Bayo’s – to start a secondary school to complement the primary school. And the only word for it now is WOW!  It is amazing!

Bayo had been thinking about starting a secondary school for quite a while, but neither the land – in Karatu – nor the funds were available.  In a rare coincidence, Bayo offered a ride to a man dressed for business, who was standing along the road, as Bayo was driving to Arusha for a meeting. The man turned out to be a member of the city council (or similar government body) from the town of Makayuni.  The man mentioned that the town was allocating land near town to people with proposals for projects that would benefit the town.  Bayo mentioned that he wanted to start a secondary school, and the man encouraged him to write a letter to the city council, proposing that he build the school on land near the town.  Soon afterwards, he was told that the town was giving the land to him for the school.  Within this same time period, Bayo received a call from TEC founders Carol Hall and Frank Lee, who told him that an alumus and parent of a Gould School student (Gould brings students to Tumaini each year.) wanted to donate funds to help with the construction of a school. So . . . building began, and a year later (!), the school opened!

There is now an administration building with a number of offices and a large conference room. There is a classroom building with four sizeable classrooms, as well as a science and technology building that houses the biology, chemistry and physics labs, and the computer room.  Temporarily, the school library is housed in the computer lab until a separate library building can be built. There are separate girls’ and boys’ dorms, and there is housing for teachers.  A garden, with drip irrigation, stretches between the two dorms. Between the administration building and the classroom building is an assembly area and space for netball. Along the side of the classroom building is the volleyball court, and there is a large space where a soccer field and a basketball court will be built. The World Leadership group that was at Tumaini the previous week started building the walkways between the buildings; it was physical labor that was accomplished in groups of three – one local workman, one Tumaini Secondary student, and one U.S. student from New Jersey.

When we arrived, we schlepped our stuff to the girls’ dorm. We all (SFSU students plus Adrienne) stayed in one large room equipped with bunk beds, with a bathroom next door.
Then the cooks – who work in a small kitchen building near the girls’ dorm – presented us with juice and bruschetta as we sat under new trees, caught our breath, and enjoyed the early evening. Later, we had dinner – a wonderful meal, served in the other side of the girls’ dorm, which had been temporarily converted into a dining hall. Then we gathered around a campfire built in the assembly area, and talked about our impressions of Tanzania, of Tumaini, both junior and senior, and the trip. When bedtime came, most of us had no trouble sleeping, even though Bayo warned us that giraffes, elephants and other wild animals in this dry, arid environment occasionally come up to the edge of the property. (One night during the school year, elephants broke down the fence and came onto the school campus!)

The next morning, after a great breakfast, we toured the buildings and began our shoot. (Note: our Tumaini video, as mentioned in an earlier post, will focus on sponsorship.  The idea is to encourage sponsoring children at either school, so we needed some footage on the secondary school, in addition to what we shot at the junior school.) Since exams for the secondary students are over and no students were around, Bayo and the staff of the junior school decided to bus the 7th form (oldest) students from Karatu to the secondary school for the day, both so they could pose as students at the secondary school for our video and so they could see the school and think about enrolling there in the year ahead. Their presence added a lot to the shoot. We simulated a class in the computer room for the purposes of the video. Then some of the students continued looking at the computers while biology models – a skeleton, an eye and a human body with all the “innards” – absorbed the attention of others.  I have never seen such an enthusiastic and “hungry” group of students as those left in the room after the shoot.

Later, some of the girls changed into uniforms to play netball, again for the purposes of the shoot.  Netball, in case you are wondering, is an Australian (?) game that used nets slightly smaller than those in basketball and smaller balls.  There are specific rules about what a player can touch, and how she or he pivots – and about many other aspects of the game, I’m sure. Anyway, two groups of girls had a short game, and then posed for team pictures.  At the same time, a group of boys were playing volleyball in their Tumaini uniforms.

After the shooting was over, we had lunch – again, a wonderful meal – and the children had soft drinks as a treat. When the meal was over, Bayo called each of our names and gave the women pieces of khanga cloth (Tanzanian fabric that has a slogan or motto written on it) and the men a shuka (the blanket the Maasai men wear much of the time). It was a lovely gesture. Then, of course, we had to say goodbye.  The children and Adrienne needed to get back to Karatu before the close of school so the buses could be used to transport students to their homes. And we needed to get on to Arusha, where we would spend the night.  It was hard to say goodbye, especially to Bayo, who is such a force of nature in the world of Tanzanian education, and to Adrienne, who has been so helpful to us while we were here. And of course, the kids are terrific!

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