Caitlin and David Rosser, new missioners sent to Tanzania have the following reflections to share with us. Caitlin has this to say, “my future mission site is a preschool program for 3 to 7 year olds at Butimba parish. As soon as I stepped into the two classrooms and met the teachers that I’ll be working with, I knew it was going to be a good fit. I was very excited to walk around the classroom and see many well thought out, handmade manipulatives for literacy, math, and science. I could tell that the teachers had put many hours into making learning tools for the kids, many of which I actually had in my classroom back home. I was also excited to hear the head teacher discuss many of the literacy activities that go in the classroom. All of my training in early literacy looks like it will very be useful and the head teacher seemed very excited about my experience and open to any new ideas.
As I sit in language classes, I focus hard to keep my mind from drifting to all of the wonderful possibilities that await me at Butimba when we begin in April. I know that it is very important that I spend my first two months there practicing my Swahili and simply observing, so I try not to get ahead of myself.
One area that I have allowed myself to dream about for Butimba is a scholarship program. With my ECEAP training I developed a great appreciation for how pivotal a strong educational foundation is for children growing up in poverty. This being said, if Butimba is as great as I think it is, it is essential that as many children as possible have access to it.
As students cannot start public school until age seven and each classroom is often filled with 80 children, a foundation at an early childhood program with committed teachers and smaller class sizes has the potential to give a child an academic boost and a chance for a successful future. My hope is that the Butimba community will share this idea with me and have a desire to reach out to children who are orphaned or have parents who can’t afford the tuition. Together with the local community and support from home, I know that we can get a program started that promotes the importance of early childhood education for all children.”
David says, “Huruma School was an amazing place to visit and the Mwalimu Mkuu (head teacher), Andrew, seems to be a fantastic fit. A tall, large, patient man, Andrew is a retired secondary school teacher of few words but speaks volumes with his kindly demeanor. The other teachers all are very enthusiastic about their jobs, despite their many challenges. Reports of non-disabled students throwing things in at the students with disabilities explained the heavy shutters on the windows. Transportation for students with mobility issues also befuddles the teachers, exasperated by the rapid erosion of the road that discourages private bus drivers. Still the day is divided into instruction in reading, writing, math, occupational therapy and vocational skills such as sewing and carpentry. The school building is well built, full of excellent learning materials and occupational therapy apparatus.”
Lisa’s Pride has been one of our most cherished experiences so far in Tanzania. This wonderful program run by our friends Sister Marion and Liz Mach provides financial, emotional and nutritional support to 25 HIV positive children in Musoma. Every other Saturday, when the group meets we take a welcome break from our studies and go over to Liz and Marion’s house to play games with the kids who range in age from 1 to 18.
During the time that we spend with the kids, we don’t perform any great work. We simply play games, twirl jump ropes and try to get the kids to laugh and remember that even though they are sick, life is still filled with blessings. The time that we spend with the kids, fills us up for the two weeks of classes we attend in between the time we get to see them again. It seems like spending an afternoon with 25 HIV positive kids would be depressing, but it is truly a hope filled experience. To see how the children are running and jumping rope and thriving because of the ARV’s and the other help they get from Lisa’s Pride is incredible, especially when you think about what their lives could look like.
One of the most powerful parts of Lisa’s Pride is how the kids feel about being a part of this special group. As Sister Marion describes it, some of the children’s nurses are amazed at how well they are doing and ask what kind of special medicine they are getting, to which Sister Marion essentially replies, “No drugs, just love.” She goes on to describe how everywhere else they go, these HIV positive children are stigmatized and treated differently than other children, but at Lisa’s Pride they can, as she says “just be kids again.”
Our Day to Day
We have successfully completed five week of language school in Musoma. We are anxious to get the next six weeks over with so we can begin the process of finding a house, beginning our jobs and settling in. At the same time, we also want them to slow down because we know that as soon as school ends we are expected to really know the language! In the short time that we’ve been here, we’ve been blown away by how much we’ve learned, but get intimidated when we go out for a walk in town and see how hard “real” conversation is. Please pray that our last six weeks here are fruitful.