Saturday, October 23, 2010

Community Service Project

Kazi nzuri! the assembly line bringing cement into the rooms
the kitchen before cement was laid down. There
was a black mamba, a really poisonous snake,  hiding in
the rocks that we found as it slithered
 up through the cement. A teacher killed
it with a shovel!
Today (Saturday) we worked on our last community service project in Tanzania. We poured cement for the floors of the kitchen and food storage room at the primary school down the road from our camp. This is the school that we go and read at a few times a week and we raised money among ourselves to buy the materials to build them a real kitchen. Some of the oldest kids of the school (ages 11 and 12) were there to help, as well as the teachers, head mistress, and a fundi (builder) to oversee everything. On a related note, yesterday afternoon we attended mass at the catholic church in Rhotia with all the primary school students. After school ended for them they gathered outside our gate and we walked to the church with them. As usual, our hands were instantly grabbed by kids. We are still seen as spectacles by the kids, but it is nice that we can make some conversation with them now. And I recognize a number of them from reading in the afternoons. One girl is named Catherine and she is very pleased to share my name.
            Today we arrived at the school around 11:30, because this morning we had a debrief meeting with the center director, Dr. Okello, about all the aspects of our time with SFS so far. So we were working on the school in the heat of the day. I’ll just briefly describe the process of mixing and pouring cement, which we’ve actually done on two occasions here in Tanzania. Cement is a mixture of sand, cement powder, and water (and today also small rocks). First you mix bags of cement into a big pile of sand, then you turn the pile over with shovels and then add rocks. You flatten out the mixture into a big circle and then pour water to make little moats, then mix in the water. We used an assembly line to pass buckets of cement into the rooms, and people spread down the cement and leveled it. It was pretty tiring being in the sun and lifting heavy things, but definitely worth it. It was great to work next to the students who will directly benefit from the project, and they helped us stay happy with their energy. After we finished, we stood in a circle and thanked each other, and the headmistress welcomed us to come back to Tanzania in the future to teach at the school. That sounds like a great idea to me! :) I am hoping that our relationship with the school gets stronger with time – the plan is to continue to send SFS students to the school for reading and to finish the kitchen project.
a view of the classrooms where we would read

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