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working the numbers

USA | Thursday, 17 May 2012 | Views [288]

fun with stickers

fun with stickers

I got to teach my own class today, alone. Neema had the younger kids in one room and I had the 6 year olds in the other. We first did drawing with the new books. This is the first time I've seen them draw- up to this point it's been math and spelling. I would draw something on the board, using the colored chalk I brought with me from the US (this was a good purchase) and tell them to draw it on their pages. They all drew tiny tiny versions hahaa...I had to keep telling them "kubwa! big!" It's like they've all been taught to conserve paper and they didn't want to take up space. It was exciting to see when someone got it and drew a big flower on the entire page. I think only one or two ventured out to do that. Then there was Aroni. He only used the gray crayon. I would keep trying to get him to use pinks and purples and he would color over it with gray. Interesting. I wonder what that is all about.

Then we started math. They are pretty good at basic addition but I also notice many of them write the number 10 backwards as 01. And they all love coming to the board but struggle a bit to actually do the addition once up there. I suppose that's pretty typical of any 6 year old. Lucky for me, they were all quietly writing in their books, copying the work from the board when we had visitors. Some people from Art in Tanzania stopped in to check out the volunteering and I'm so glad they didn't stop in when the class was chaos (like when I'm handing out stickers! it's a feeding frenzy). A guy from the UK asked if they spoke English and I said "some" so he asked one of the girls what her name is. She was looking at the board and didn't answer him so I repeated the question more sternly and she answered. Then he asked how old she was and she did the same thing, so I said "Jackline! How old are you?" and after she answered, one of the leaders was so thrilled that I knew her name and that I had control of the class- he shook my hand and congratulated me. I felt like such a rockstar haha... yes, they listen to me pretty well, but there are times when it's completely out of control. I'm glad their visit was such good timing.

After class, I spent some time working the numbers with Neema. As my visit was coming to a close, I needed to decide where the money was going to go. I had her list the children that were not able to pay for school and needed sponsors. 28 children. 28. That's most of the class! Neema lets them come anyway and uses her own pay to get supplies and porridge for the kids. I honestly don't know how she does it. No wonder they didn't even have a duster for the chalkboard. My heart felt heavy as I knew I couldn't pay for them all, but I also knew I could take photos, get the info and bring it back with me to see if anyone in the US wanted to sponsor. I think it makes a big difference that I am actually here and I get to know the kids so I can tell others their stories. I want to put up a website and see if we can get some continued sponsorship.Yes, I can help with some immediate funds, but what about next year and the year after? Each child is either 75,000 tsh or 150,000 tsh a year depending on if it's school or day care too (some kids stay all day as they have nowhere else to go). That comes out to be about $50 or $100 per year. It's nothing! I'll spend that on a night out! But I can't sponsor all 28. And primary and secondary school cost more, so I need to think about what I can do for future.

Ok, so I have some things to think about. How many can I help with the donation money now and who do I want to personally sponsor for their full education? And do I put them through regular school or English medium? Ultimately English medium gives them their best chance at a good future, but can I afford it on an ongoing basis? Lots of pondering and praying will be going on tonight.

Only two days left. I'm starting to feel sad about leaving.

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