One of BCC’s major goals is to explore ideas and find possible future placements for some of the older children or children that can be served better in an academic or vocational setting than they can in a day center setting. This ensures that children are appropriately educated by trained teachers and that children will have useful job skills. The main goal is to help the children reach their full potential in life.
Two weeks ago we visited a school called Imani. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we knew that two BCC children currently attend the school. It turns out that Imani is a Catholic affiliated boarding school that teaches educational and vocational skills to children. A few years ago, the sisters running the program decided to open their services to children with physical and intellectual disabilities. The sisters have minimal training on how to best serve children with physical or intellectual disabilities, but they have the heart to include all children in the school. Their school currently serves 110 children and 15 of those are children with intellectual disabilities.
The school is structured in an amazingly inclusive and very structured format. After our initial visit, it was very clear that Imani would be an ideal location for children who can be better served by a vocational and educational school. Both the Imani sisters and BCC management decided that BCC should bring some children to visit the school.
Last Tuesday, we decided to visit Imani with 11 of BCC’s current participants. We got to Imani and we were greeted by the head nun. She took us on a tour of the vocational classrooms. The vocational skills they teach are sewing, cooking, woodworking, construction, welding, and knitting or crocheting. We were also able to view the special education classes and meet with the two current BCC children attending Imani.
At the wood working group each male was able to take his turn sawing a piece of wood. One of the BCC children we took to visit the school was very excited once it was his turn. When he took the saw, he started shaking a little, which made it hard to saw. Four boys were holding the piece of wood in place and one of them instructed him on how to saw. The BCC child calmed down and was able to saw the piece of wood! Everyone was excited and he was incredibly pleased with himself!
At the knitting or crocheting class a BCC child who currently attends that class was helping the new BCC children. She was working very diligently with two of the young girls. The teachers were incredibly excited with how quickly the potential students were learning the skill! They went up to the head nun and asked if those two could be accepted!
As we toured the classes and met with other children the head nun intently watched the children who attend BCC to see how they interacted with other children, how interested they were in each class, and how much she felt Imani could help the child. All of the teachers, staff, and students at Imani were incredibly welcoming and provided wonderful assistance for our group.
Seven of the 11 children we took to Imani were selected to begin classes in January! Also, the head sister said it may be possible for Imani to take the other four children if there is extra space once registration is complete. She was very impressed with the children and was excited to start building a relationship with BCC.
As mentioned, Imani is a three to four year school that focuses on education, vocation, and socialization for children with and without disabilities. We are very excited that seven children from BCC will be able to learn new skills, meet new people, and work towards achieving a full life through this program!
Unfortunately, with this wonderful news there is a difficult truth. The school fee including room and board is $400 per academic year per child. The fee is very low by western standards, but due to the extreme poverty in Tanzania, many families cannot afford to pay this fee for their children. The average income here is $40 per month, so that means years of savings would be necessary for a child to be able to participate in a vocational or educational program.
If anyone is interested in assisting a child by providing a scholarship for one to three years that would support a child from BCC to attend an educational or vocational program, please contact Mosaic. Your assistance provides a chance for a child with intellectual disabilities to attend school, receive vocational training, and grow with other children.
Your assistance also provides something for which there is no monetary value: an opportunity.
A few days after we visited Imani with the children, we visited a BCC day center. One of the children at that center was accepted at Imani. She came up to us and asked when she would be able to go back to that school. We told her that class began in January. She gave us the most beautiful and hopeful smile and said she was incredibly excited to go to school and she was going to work very hard to learn!