January 27, 2013
The focus of the blog entry on this first week back in Tanzania is on the current activities of one of the eleven centers of Building a Caring Community (BCC), Msaranga. The centers provide developmental, social, and educational services to neighborhood children with intellectual disabilities.
Until the past few weeks, the Msaranga Center was located in a small crowded building with very little outdoor area for the children and virtually no shade through the day. The adults and children were falling over one another. Now the center has relocated to the property of the Msaranga Lutheran Parish Church, a larger space that is shaded and has a green grassy area. Although not wheelchair accessible, the center, the bathrooms, and cooking space are more spread out, but within easy reach of each other. One simple ramp is already in the works which will make two of the areas accessible very soon.
Something that is missing from the former center building is the creative drawings on the walls, painted by volunteers who have passed through over time. The BCC staff person who heads this center, Janeth, is receiving a surprise this week. Five people, including the two Mosaic fellows and BCC/Mosaic staff, showed up armed with cleaning and painting supplies. The children were moved to the shady and breezy outdoor area and the work started. We caught Janeth cleaning and painting also when she could spare time from the children. The truth is that she would never want to be a non-participant in anything! This weekend, a few volunteers will paint creative artwork on the walls which should really jazz things up! One more thing … the broken and discolored linoleum from the old center, now too small anyway, must be replaced. Shopping and pricing are in the plans.
Janeth always has a smile on her face and is known for incorporating music and movement into so many of the day’s activities. She loves the children, which is evident in everything she does. It also shows in how the children respond to her. One of the great benefits of the new location is that another room in the building houses a Montessori kindergarten program, so the beginning of a little informal integration of the children is starting. Also, four school-age children spend the afternoon at the center following dismissal from school. At least one is a sibling of a child at the center. They are invaluable as role models and as helpers.
The following pictures are of the children at Msaranga and a couple are of the painting crew.
Finally the end! We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions!