Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lukima School, our last school visit!

Yesterday we visited Lukima School.  We drove from Mbinga for about 2 hours uphill to the school.  It is located at over 6000 feet.  We were once again greeted by 400 smiling, singing students.  The school has recently been built and has form 1 and form 2 - similar to grades 9 and 10 in the US.  More grades will be added each year until the first class graduates.

We met with the students in a crowded assembly hall with a beautifully decorated blackboard welcoming us to the school.  After several speeches, I also gave a speech and greeted the kids with "Ham Jambo, wana funzi" which means "What's the news fine students?"  The kids loved it, but it was pretty much the extent of my Swahili.

We presented another soccer ball to the students, and the cheers were thundering!  A soccer ball in a remote area is a big deal, and especially one with the world cup logo.

I had a question from a young man in Boston yesterday, and it was a great question!  He wondered why Longa school already had water when they are not completed with their fundraising.  We are fortunate to have donors that have helped us create a revolving fund- they donate to projects in need.  In the case of these schools in the Ruvuma area, the skilled labor was available in the area, and the implementing group asked if we could provide funds early to take advantage of cheaper prices by doingo 4 projects.  Once Boston College raises it's funds, they will replenish the "borrowed" amount from the revolving fund.  It allows schools that are ready to go to not have to wait months before starting.  Thanks for the question!

Lukima School also utilized it's location (the mountains) and designed a gravity flow system.  The students once again gathered rock, sand and dug the trench for the pipe- 4 km long- and all up a steep grade! H2O for Life funds provided cement, pipes and the skilled labor where needed.  We were going to walk to the source, but a torrential rainfall put a stop to that.  We actually needed to stay an additional several hours at Lukima because the roads were impassable.  Fortunately, our driver, Emanuela was terrific, and able to slip slide our way out to better roads. 

We also met Sarah, a US volunteer who is teaching at the school.  She told us that she loves it!  She lives in very modest staff housing, has a shamba (a garden patch with many foods that she needs) and on occasion is able to email and charge her ipod-which she says is a the best!  She is teaching the students English.  Without English they have no chance to pass the National Exams, and the Tanzanian teachers are really not fluent enough to teach English the way it is tested.  Village Schools International has found that with the addition of English speaking teachers, students flock to the schools, and do well on the tests.  Any volunteers out there?  We have information if you are looking for a journey of a lifetime in Tanzania.

We had a long drive to Iringa, where Steve and I needed to catch a bus to Dar Es Salaam.  Due to the rain, we ended up overnight in Songaa around 8pm.  Once it is dark, the driving is dangerous and not advised.  We had another 8 hour day to Iringa the following day.  We said good-bye to our great new friends from Village Schools, and spent some time shopping in Iringa.

We met a young taxi driver named Ilomo.  He spoke English and was a lifesaver.  In Kenya, many people speak English, but it is not so in Tanzania. (I really need to learn Swahili)  Ilomo escorted us to shops and dinner, and delivered us to the dreaded bus this morning. I actually bought an additional seat so that we weren't smashed in like sardines.  Unfortunately, we were right under the "movie" speaker and it was loud.  Fortunately, I had several pairs of earplugs in my bag for just such an emergency.  It was a long 9 hour bus trip to Dar.  As we exited the bus, we saw one lady get off with a live chicken.  We couldn't imagine holding that chicken for 9 hours!

Thus ends our school visits.  We are reassured that the work that is being done is fantastic and is making a difference in the lives of the students.  Thank you all for your support to H2O for Life.  We hope you will continue to educate your students, your friends, your youth groups and anyone else that will take an interest in the water crisis.  It does have solutions and in the words of Sarah Douglas from Lukima:
                                                        "Haba na Haba hujaza kibaba"
                                                            little by little fills the bucket
We believe this is true!

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