An African Adventure
We had an amazing family holiday this summer; maybe our last family holiday with our children as they now go their separate ways into work and University. But it was more than a holiday and shows how, sometimes, some of the most rewarding experiences in life occur unexpectedly.
We were travelling in mainland Tanzania. The first part of the holiday was 10 days on safari; the days were long and the travelling was demanding. However, it as the best way to see the wildlife and the reality of village life too. We stayed in a number of lodges, designed for tourists but close to local villages. From the lodges, and from the hotel we ended this part of our holiday in on the island of Zanzibar, we were offered organised visits to a nearby villages to get a taste of local life. But if I’m honest, they felt a little false. Our presence was as a tourist and there were little keepsakes for us to buy when we got there. I didn’t feel I was getting authenticity.
The final part of our holiday was spent on the tiny island of Mafia, renown for the richness of its marine life and superb diving. The lodge we stayed in was Mafia Island Lodge, in the village of Utende. This lodge is the local home of the Italian Karibuni charity. This charity works very hard to support developments in the village of Utende. There were volunteers there at that time who were working closely with the nursery they had set up in the village. Children in Tanzania start primary school at 6 years old and the Karibuni charity had provided a new building to enable 70 nursery children to benefit from education before primary school. The manager of the lodge welcomed me to join her visit to the nursery in Utende with the volunteer who was visiting from the Karibuni charity.
There and unplanned, I met Biubwa, an incredible 24 year old woman with one year of teacher training. She was running a 2 room nursery alongside an existing class in a school. She had responsibility for 70 children between two and six years old and had one ‘mum helper’ to assist her. I saw a learning environment as basic as one could possibly imagine. I also saw happy, smiling children with a desire to learn and a teacher with so much to offer, but with virtually no resources to work with.
Biubwa spoke English (and also taught it). She wanted to ask me lots of questions about teaching. I wanted to ask her lots of questions too, but was conscious that she was teaching. With the lodge manager, we agreed that Biubwa and I would meet up again at the lodge and have a proper talk. We did this and have made a connection so that I am in touch with her by email to be a support to her in her teaching. I had, for many years considered sponsoring a child abroad, to give them a better education. My personal wish was to support a girl, as I don’t have a daughter. It would seem that this wonderful chance opportunity, will now be my unique way of achieving this for many children. In my next blog, I’ll share the fascinating insights of teaching 70 children in an African village.