Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ASANTE sana!

Greetings from Bukiriro Secondary School! On behalf of all of the students I have the pleasure of teaching, I would like to say “Asante sana!” Our fundraising efforts have brought in nearly $2500, which is the equivalent of 3,750,000 Tanzanian shillings!! Considering one cup of uji for a student is a mere 200 shillings, or 12 cents. That’s a lot of uji we can buy!

I still am in awe over the difference this has made at our school. The whole dynamic of the school has changed. Prior to serving porridge, no one at school would eat during the day. As a volunteer and guest at their school, they offered me mandazi and chai maziwa (a fried dough and milk tea) every morning to be taken with only one of the other teachers. My desk was in the school “library” with this other teacher, apart from the rest of the staff in the staff room, simply because we would be taking chai everyday. A very kind gesture to offer, but I still was not comfortable with the division. Then most days, a student would go to the town center during morning class periods (at least a 15 to 20 minute walk) to buy fresh mandazi for us. However, knowing that they wouldn’t be eating makes the whole situation seem unfair.

When the district implemented serving porridge everyday at each school, I was just as eager as the students were! In conversations with my headmaster, it became evident that while he understood the importance of offering porridge, he was concerned about the funding. Students can barely afford the 20,000tsh school fees, so asking them to pay 200tsh a cup for porridge is a huge stretch for most families. That’s when we all stepped in to help! And now, with the money you have all provided, we have provided a water tank to ease in the making, as well as gaurunteed uji for the entire school through June!

What does this actually mean?

The student that wakes up hungry because his family couldn’t afford dinner the night before will be fed at school!

The student who normally falls asleep during the afternoon classes because of hunger and dehydration is now alert and ready to learn!

The classes that seem to drag on at the end of the day and the students who are lethargic during the afternoon are now full of spirit and energy!

All of the teachers that were never offered chai now take mandazi and their choice of regular or milk tea every morning!

While I only occasionally interacted with the other staff members before, now we are all able to take chai together, sharing stories, telling jokes, and coming together as a community.

The school is coming together as one, students and staff alike, and on behalf of our school I seriously cannot thank you enough! It has been amazing to experience this transformation, and although my time at Bukiriro will be coming to an end in May, don’t think that our efforts won’t continue. As much money as we can raise will continue to be sent to benefit the students, for they are truly the leaders of tomorrow.

If you are interested in supporting the uji effort at Bukiriro Secondary School, you can donate directly to WorldTeach at, the donation page, specifying the project for Elizabeth Martin in Tanzania. 

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