By Alex Bailey
Earlier this month, a partner organization of BCC called Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) hosted a two-day training for BCC staff and pastors. The objectives of the training were threefold: to educate staff about child development and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, better positioning and feeding techniques for children with physical disabilities, and address issues of the most common illnesses affecting the children and young adults we serve, based on our recent health screening results.
As I looked around at the 40 people whose hands scribbled furiously as their eyes darted from the presentation to their notebooks, I realized that this is the true meaning of collaboration, in its most practical form. What started out as a training from CCBRT staff for BCC staff had expanded to include staff members from two other organizations in Tanzania serving people with disabilities, an organization called Village to Village and a program very similar to BCC called Tumaini. After the training, BCC staff visited the program at Tumaini in order to offer insights learned through their experiences and to exchange ideas about how to improve both programs. In the BCC office, we often discuss the progress being made in truly building a caring community as our namesake implies, and the creation and expansion of programs similar to BCC is a very encouraging sign that this caring community that supports and empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities in Tanzania is growing.
Another thrilling sign of this caring community is the active participation of staff during trainings. The education system in Tanzania is often based on rote memorization, devoid of critical thinking and discussion-based classes. Teachers speak, students repeat. The training was the complete opposite. The two facilitators were incredibly engaging, asking for participants’ ideas about stages of child development or causes of illness instead of simply telling them what to write. The facilitators would gently correct inaccurate information, and encourage questions. One of the facilitators even looked at our attendance sheet and cold-called participants!
The staff had an incredible thirst for knowledge to improve the lives of the children we serve. Everyone was vigorously taking notes; some took photos of the Powerpoint slides with their phones. They brainstormed solutions to the issues being discussed and were not afraid to ask questions, even during uncomfortable topics. During the portion of the training that dealt with positioning of children with physical disabilities, staff members came to the front of the room to demonstrate proper techniques so that everyone could learn from one another. My expectations based on my previous experience with the education system were completely shattered and I was blown away.
So on this Giving Tuesday, I am grateful for those who give their time, enthusiasm, expertise, and hearts to create lives of possibilities for the people we serve in Moshi. I am grateful for facilitators who are passionate about imparting knowledge of how to better serve, for staff who take advantage of every opportunity to improve the quality of care in our centers and to collaborate with one another, and to donors who make all of this possible.
If you would like to contribute to Mosaic International’s work in Tanzania, please visit https://donate.mosaicinfo.org/pages/inter/international-projects. A donor has generously offered to match Giving Tuesday gifts, so your gift will have double the impact for the people we serve.