As many of you know, Building a Caring Community (BCC) in Moshi, Tanzania has nine of its teens and young adults enrolled at the Imani Vocational Residential School at this time. These students are able to attend because their tuition fees for the current year have been paid with donations to Mosaic by staff and friends who have designated money for this purpose. By western standards, the tuition for one year per student is a bargain at $450. At this time, about 1/3 of its enrollment, or 30, is made up of students with disabilities, physical and/or intellectual, from various places.
I have been to Imani three times since the current school year started in January. A blog was posted following the first visit. Now, about six weeks later, the nine BCC students look more mature, more self-confident, and independent. Most parents and caregivers visited their children last weekend during a scheduled family visitation time. Their comments reflect changes they observed such as, “for the first time, he’s washing his own clothes; he can write his name; she showed me the kitchen where she learns about cooking; I didn’t think she would ever like to learn anything; the public schools didn’t want my son;” and on and on. Actually, one of my favorite comments was from an astonished mother who said, “the director says my son might be a leader, but how can that be when he can’t talk right?”
In January, the director and teachers asked for assistance in assimilating the new students into the school environment, especially socially. There had been a large turnover of students this year as well as more students who had not attended any school in the past and who were entering with lower skill levels. There is also a more varied set of needs of students with disabilities. BCC staff have received many areas of training from Mosaic through the years so a few of them are now training Imani staff in a few of the areas. Yesterday, Genevieve, a BCC staff person, and I met with the students. We thought we were meeting with groups of 30 – 35 students at a time for about 45 minutes each, but instead we met with all 97 students for 1½ hours! We stepped up our energy level and the number of activities to promote the active participation of students. Of course, everything was in English and Swahili. As is often the case, I’m not sure who learned more, the students, or Genevieve and me! We’re going back for part two next week to find out!
Enjoy the pictures below of the Imani teachers, 97 students squished into a beastly hot classroom, and the end pictures of all of us giving a big cheer for the group.