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Global Links- Tanzania 2018

Tanzania Global Enrichment Visit:

Sunday 21st October - Saturday 27th October 2018

Mr Hansen and Mrs Russell join a party of 13 Malvern teachers to visit our link schools in Tanga, Tanzania.  The Malvern- Tanga Partnership has been established for 13 years and involves reciprocal visits every year.  We welcomed two colleagues from Chumbageni School, Halifa and Zuleha into Somers Park in June (see photo)

Mrs Russell will be on hand throughout the visit to answer your questions about Chumageni and Tanzania.  We'll also post lots of pictures of our activities throughout. Follow Mrs Russell on @SomersPark3R

Blog 1: Birmingham to Tanga

Sunday 21st October

Our arrival in Tanga, Tanzania came at the end of a long but smooth journey, at 4:45pm on Sunday afternoon, having flown out of Birmingham at 9:40pm on Friday night. Upon arrival in Tanga, our party of 14, a combination of headteachers, teachers, TAs and admin staff from Malvern schools, were treated to a delicious meal prepared by the staff of Chumbageni School. We now settle down to share the tales of our journey- our first blog- with the sun setting behind us: it gets dark very quickly… I wonder why this could be?

The route we took to Tanzania flew from Birmingham to Dubai, a two-hour changeover before flying onto Dar Es Salaam.  With clock changes, our arrival to Dubai came at 2:30pm where we were met with blue sky and sunshine, and temperatures over 30 degrees.  However, the warmest welcome we received was from the collection of 7 Tanzanian headteachers who had made the long journey the day before to meet us off the plane.

As I did last year, I have brought a book to read that is set in Africa.  This year’s read is aimed at 9-12 year olds:  Warrior Boy by Virginia Clay. It’s a very accessible text and an easy read. The traditional greeting we always share with our African friends is described really accurately in Warrior Boy where Ben, the main character, meets his Masai cousin for the first time:

‘Ben lifted his hand to shake the boy’s, but it was met with a hearty slap instead. The ben was pulled into a chest bump, followed by what he could have sworn was a kiss on the cheek. This was then repeated on the other side, far too slowly for comfort.’

Money exchanged (you can’t get Tanzania Shillings out of the country) and bags loaded, we proceeded to the Kurasini hostel which was our bed for the night.

Over to Mrs Russell:

The day started early. Following breakfast , which included eggs, papaya and cassava,  it was all aboard the bright blue bus (which matched Mr Hansen’s t-shirt! See Twitter photo) and off on the 7 hour road trip to Tanga. There is so much to see and take in, watching Tanzanian people going about their daily lives. Dusty stalls line the streets selling everything from pots to fruit to furniture and we even saw coffins.

A couple of questions:

-Why do you think there is an odd shoe seller? Single, odd shoes, laid out on a blanket for others to buy.

- Why was the car windscreen washer using a discarded windscreen wiper and not a squeegee to clear the windscreens.

Mr Hansen and I declined the offer to buy bobble hats in Tanzanian colours offered to us through the window of our bus.  After a couple of detours due to ‘adventure driving’ conditions (again see Twitter photos) we eventually left the city and joined the main road which was surprisingly good, a relatively recent development.  Our journey was punctuated by stops from officials, you have to arrange to travel and let them know and not just travel when you want.  We had two ‘weigh-ins’ at weigh bridges en route as well. The best stop though was when we pulled over in the region of Kiwangwa (which is well known for its pineapples), Halifa (Chumbageni Headetacher) jumped off the coach and bought us great big pineapples- it’s pineapple season here! Finally we arrived in Tanga to be greeted by the huge smiles, beautiful clothing colours and hugs of a crowd of Tanzanians from our schools including lots of familiar faces. What a second welcome!

Blog 2- Chumbageni Day 1

Monday 22nd October

‘Ben took a deep breath replacing the stale air in his lungs with this new air of Arica- earthy and fragrant, warm and spicy. He closed his eyes and let the sun soak into his skin.'

Warrior Child, by Virginia Clay

Our greeting at the Tanga City Council offices had a slightly different feel about to my previous visit last year.  The process of meeting the City Education Officer has been in place for over ten years now; this visit is necessary to gain permission for our teachers to visit the council schools.  Khalifa Shemahonge, the City Education Officer, visited Malvern with the Tanga teachers in June. Khalifa’s role is a significant one; he is responsible for 103 Primary Schools in Tanga City. During his visit to Malvern, he had the opportunity to spend time in our schools and get to know the strengths and benefits of the link to both the Tanzanian and Malvern schools. His welcome was warm and personal, and a brilliant collective way for the visit to begin.

We arrived at Chumbageni School during their break time, so we met briefly with the teachers before being wowed by the brilliant singing and dancing of their welcome celebration. A collection of personalised songs, entertaining dances and powerful poetry, it was really special.

One of the songs that was shared with us was a traditional historical song which celebrates the formation of Tanzania from two separate countries… Can you find out which they were?  The focus of the song is on coming together, with over 100 tribes in Tanzania all now speaking the same language- working together.

You may have seen the picture on Twitter of the fantastic sculpture of the Tanzanian flag, reusing used coloured bottles (Yes, if you’ve seen the video, my childhood ambition was to be a Blue Peter presenter!) Not only was the plastic flag striking to look at, it was interesting to hear the pride that the teacher had in telling us the meaning of the different colours of the flag:

Black: represents the people of Tanzania

Yellow:  represents the minerals that come out of the country.

Blue: represents the oceans

Green: represents the vegetation of the country

The school buildings at Chumbageni look very good, far beeter than the peeling paint which I saw last year.  A couple of the classrooms have had a lick of paint and some of the external walls have too- the school is thriving.

Outside of the buildings, the plants have suffered as a result of the hot weather and so the grounds are looking a lot less green than last year. I’m sure there will be some tree planting this year to supplement those we put in 12 months ago- they’re still growing!

Follow Mrs Russell and I on Twitter at @SomersPark1 or @SomersPark3R to keep up to date with latest pictures and tales!

Blog 3- Chumbageni Day 2

Tuesday 23rd October

The morning began with a visit to another primary school in Tanga, Martinshamba School.  Martinshamba is linked with Great Malvern Primary School so I was keen to visit to see how the school is developing.  Like Somers Park, Great Malvern have supported the kitchen development at their link school and this year, the Great Malvern fundraising is paying for fencing there too which we are hoping to see begin this week.  Schools in Tanzania do not tend to have fences around them, they are often right in the middle of residential areas and a large number of the houses around Martinshamba school consisted of a crisscrossed wooden frame, with dried mud filling the gaps.  The soil and mud in Tanzania is a rich burnt red colour, similar to terracotta.

On the way to Martinshamba, we drove past the main Tanga market.  This was a place brimming with business and people! Mrs Russell visited as she was working with Veronica (Chumbageni teacher) and Mrs Cory to prepare lunch today… so over to her:

Mrs Corey (from Great Malvern) and I went with three female teachers from Chumbageni to buy food from the market and have a cooking lesson.  How to describe the market? Busy, busy, tarpaulin covered vans and lorries, piles of fruit and vegetables, colourful people, wooden stalls packed in together, noise and chatter. We bought: meat, coconuts, tomatoes, carrots, rice and spices.

On the way back to the school we stopped again and bought things for Mrs Russell’s special collection for the girls (thank you to everyone who contributed). The Chumbageni ladies bartered hard for a good price and we bought lots of materials.

Back at Chumbageni, Mrs Corey and I grated coconut and tomatoes, stirred and chopped and mixed and learned to cook Tanzanian food (see pictures on Twitter).  We served our tasty food to the staff for lunch, they have this every day and any leftovers are shared with the children.

The school buildings themselves are almost exclusively, simple shells. The classrooms do not have glass in the windows, either empty metal frames of nothing at all, and until recently at Chumbageni, the classrooms have not had doors.  Although there s nothing at all of value in the classrooms (any resources they do have are stored centrally) there are a couple of rooms that do contain objects of value which may be readily taken.

The first room is the computer room which proudly displays the Somers Park name above the doorway.  These ten computers were donated by Somers Park a number of years ago and are certainly feeling a bit old, however they are being used more this year than last because after his visit to Somers Park last Summer, Khlaifa, the City Education Officer has put a computing teacher into Chumbageni.

Schools run in a different way to the UK. Staffing appointments are made by the City Education Officer, who decides which teacher works in which school.  In the UK, schools are responsible for paying their teachers, whilst in Tanzania, all teachers are paid centrally by the government. In addition, headteachers can be removed from their role instantly or told they have to transfer school- I’m not sure I’d like that!

Interestingly, since the summer visit to Malvern, Halifa (Chumbageni Headteacher) has been put in charge of 5 local Primary School, almost like an Executive Headteacher!

Halifa and I regularly discuss our timetable whilst we are here.  This year, the all of the Tanzaian schools have worked closer than ever to co-ordinate the events and the approach to our visit- even down to many of the schools using the same format for the timetables we have been given (teachers at Somers Park will know how much I approve of this!). One of the challenges I have had with this is that ‘Tanga time’ works in a different way to time in the UK.  Their daily clock begins at 6am (when the day begins) and not a midnight like us. This means that 7o’clock in the morning is 1:00 in Tanzania. See our Twitter page @SomersPark1 to see a copy of the signing in book for teachers: Can you work out what time they arrived in school this morning?

For a number of years, the Chumbageni charity which we run has supplied uji for the children of Chumbageni.  This is particularly important as for some children this is a significant part of the nutrition they get each day. Due to difficulties in transferring money to the school, we discovered yesterday that the children have not been getting the uji for a couple of months.  Having delivered some funds upon arrival, it was particularly pleasing today, to be able to serve uji in school.  Just for your information, of the 574 children at Chumbageni, 180 are orphaned: many of these live with relatives, but some live in orphanages too. It brings it all into perspective.

I’ve saved the best until last though.  The highlight of today was the twenty-minute live feed we shared with Year 6.  We sang songs to each other and had a reciprocal question and answer session, showed the Year 6 around the school and shared work… and it worked! The children from both schools being able to respond to and interact with other children thousands of miles away, not just seeing pictures, was incredibly powerful indeed. We’re so pleased it worked and we’ll be repeating with some other year groups over the next few days.

We can’t wait to return tomorrow.

For photos and more information, please see our school twitter feeds: @SomersPark1 @SomersPark3R


Blog 4- Chumbageni Day 3

Wednesday 24th October

An African first for me today. It has rained solidly with us since about 10am and Tanzania does not do rain by halves! The previously dry ground was unforgiving so big pools of water flooded the previously dusty playing field. The rain also coincided nicely (!) with the sports tournament organised for link schools to take part in, meaning today, we had the group of English teachers at Chumbageni. Nevertheless, the children took park with verve and enthusiasm, and the fun they were having in puddles was beautiful! The teachers are very grateful of the rain, they have had a prticualrly dry and warm few months and their crops and vegetables have suffered as a result.  They have told us though, that in Tanzania, when you receive visitors and they bring rain, it is a sign that they are 'good people'; we'll take that!

Sport across the schools is really developing well. Cricket has been flourishing since it was introduced a number of years ago- Halifa was very proud to tell me about the pupil who has recently been chosen to represent Tanzania. For me though, to see the improvement in the standard of the tag rugby from last year was incredible. The children play with good skills and amazing athleticism- those playing the tournament were elusive and incredibly quick!

Also great to see was the uji routine well and truly back in place. The children arrived at school with their plastic cups and Mrs Russell and I were able to serve the children once again. I also tasted uji for the first time- a thick porridge which tasted good, far better than it looks if I’m honest!  Sweet and salty as well as being warm and filling- I can see why this provision was so missed by the children. Today I have had two Chumbageni teachers who have also said to me how pleased they are that this is in place again- stating that children don’t have food before school and that when they have the uji, their learning really improves (not a surprise, we know about the affect this can have at Somers Park too!) The maths resources which were kindly donated by Easy Read Time were fantastic as we taught the children a combined English and Maths lesson- how to tell the time in English. Mrs Russell had created individual clocks for the children with moving hands (85 of them for the class) and these went down a storm; with Seriya, the class teacher commenting about the impact of the lesson- Well done Mrs R!

After school today we visited the stationers to spend the funds you sent in to buy pencils.  The shop was small and consisted of a counter and a waiting area.  An interesting fact we learnt today, was that the government has a set price for all stationery bought by schools which has to be honoured by all shops.  Why do you think this may be necessary? Since my last visit, the school now encourages children to write in blue biro from Standard 3 upwards, so our purchasing included lots of pencils and blue biros. We also included some paper and rubbers.  The one item we purchased for the teachers to use is chalk… this is like gold dust in the schools! At Chumbageni this is kept under lock and key in Halifa’s office and teachers come before a lesson to collect two sticks of chalk.  Can you imagine the challenges of teaching children without being able to write on the board, especially without worksheets, workbooks or photocopies? This evening the City Education Officer invited us to a coffee to thank us for our visit and to catch up on what we have been doing.

Tomorrow we collect the stationery and we’ll post lots of pictures so you can see what we have purchased.

Blog 5- Chumbageni Day 4

Thursday 25th October

The rain continues. Torrential.

Our day began by returning to the stationery shop to collect the stock we ordered yesterday. It was very satisfying to take this into school and to show the children what we had bought with your contributions and other charity money, over 400 pencils and 600 pens, rubbers sharpeners and chalk.

After dropping off the pencils, we visited a couple of other schools.  Kisosora Primary School is a large primary school and is going to be the link school for Malvern Vale Primary School. It is one of the oldest schools in the city, opening in 1958 before Tanzanian independence. The welcome we were given was incredibly warm and they are very much looking forward to the link.  We were introduced to the 16 teachers, one of whom was introduced to us as a Maasai.

Maasai are a North African tribe rich in tradition.  The tribes live in villages and live with many rituals- I was informed that traditionally, to take a Maasai lady’s hand in marriage, you would need to kill a lion!

Warrior Boy, by Virginia Clay, is set around a Maasai tribe in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, and drops in some lovely details about their language and the traditions of the tribe… some are more gruesome than others.

Kip had told him how to say ‘ashe oleng’, which meant ‘thank you’ in the Maa language, and he said it now whilst taking the meat. There were many nods of approval.’

Warrior Boy, By Virginia Clay

Following the visit to Kisosora, we travelled to Majani Mapana School.  Majani Mapana are the link school for St James CofE Primary School in Malvern who have not been able to travel this year.  We took stationery and football kits, correspondence and gifts to the teachers.  We were welcomed, saw dancing and were fed an early lunch by their incredibly enthusiastic and cheerful Headteacher, Juliette.

Our next school visit was to Old Tanga Secondary School.  During their visit in the summer, we took our Tanzanian colleagues to The Chase to look around a secondary school and they have returned the favour. Old Tanga is the oldest school in the whole of Tanzania, built in 1893. It contains 1050 students, who are all selected to attend secondary education at the end of their primary years.  The other children are not entitled to further schooling, but are encouraged to attend a skills centre where they can learn a trade such as building, bike repair, hairdressing or sewing for instance. The buildings at Old Tanga Secondary School are in the worst repair of any school that I have visited during my visits, however the children are focused and keen to learn.

The sewing machines at Chumbageni are an example of this skills training.  First introduced a number of years ago, this has been one of the most successful schemes Somers Park have supported.  Providing training for local women, giving them a trade over a 6-12 month course so that they can then earn money for their families.  Such is the success, we have purchased two more machines during this visit and tomorrow, will be visiting the market to buy some material.

Each evening of our stay we have been entertained by teachers from Chumbageni or Martinshamba School (Great Malvern Primary School’s link).  We have been incredibly privileged to be invited into their homes and have been fed with delicious local foods.  The meals have been exclusively a mix of rice, chips, peas in a tomato sauce (mbaazi), ‘meat’ stew, deep fried chicken, yam, deep fried fish heads, banana curry, fried banana and water melon.  Within the home there are very clear gender roles: the women of the house do all of the food preparation and cooking, although most interesting was that they do not sit and eat with the men.  In one house, of a female Chumbageni teacher, her husband and first-born son sat with us and ate, whilst she and her daughter were in the room but did not eat with us. This is one of the most explicit differences between Tanzanian and UK cultures.

The journeys in the car at night-time are an experience. Roads are very, very busy, but not just with cars.  There is a buzz of people on bikes (two on a bike very common), motorbikes (piki piki- we’ve seen a family on four on one motor bike), in their minibus taxis (dala-dalas).  The speed of travel is very slow, with no clear rules of the road. There is constant use of the horn, not in anger, just to inform others that you are there and are coming through… Bikes weave and despite a few very near misses, we have not witnessed any form of road rage. It works, despite the absolute darkness due to the lack of streetlights, and the uneaven mud tracks.

This week we have had a couple of very successful live link ups with Somers Park using the wonders of technology.  Year 6 and Year 3 have sung songs back and forth and had question and answer sessions, and the use of Twitter to ask questions has been very successful.

We are very sad that tomorrow is our last day at Chumbageni and that we will be saying goodbye to our friends and colleagues. 

For photos and more information, please see our school twitter feeds: @SomersPark1 @SomersPark3R 

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