Playing and having fun are not features of children’s lives in Tanzania. From an early age, young girls, sometimes as young as three years old, care for their younger brothers or sisters or walk to fetch water whilst their mother ekes a living to be able to buy food for the family. Young boys work in the fields herding goats or cattle. There is no culture of play and there are certainly no toys, games or computers! Teaching in schools is still very formal. There are few, if any, opportunities for creative learning and no encouragement to play.
When Arise School opened in January 2013, we wanted it to develop as a community resource, utilised by the village when not in use as a school. Consequently, every Saturday since early April 2013, the school has opened its doors for the Kisimani Kids’ Club. Kisimani in Swahili means “the place of the well” – a meeting place where people go to fetch water. On a Saturday afternoon, the school becomes a meeting place for the local children. All children are made welcome, whether or not they are pupils at the school, including the local street children.
Numbers have grown from six children attending the first session to, on occasions, as many as over 120! The children are able to take part in educational, sporting and other activities and games, use the playground equipment that was donated via ACE, and just have some fun. Coming to the Kisimani is like a big day out. They come early so that they can get more time to play – a rare opportunity for the majority.
Sometimes local children attending the Kisimani raise alarm bells with the staff. They may be from very poor circumstances or, for example, have sustained injuries that give rise to concern. Following home visits to investigate their backgrounds, several children have subsequently been enabled to start at the school with the support of sponsors via ACE.
In July 2014, with the help of 20 visiting medical students from the U.S. and Canada, it was possible to provide a medical dispensary and much needed medical care and attention for the children, including hair washing and treatment for common ailments like jiggers, ringworm and other fungal infections.
It is every child’s right to be able to play and have fun. Please help us to make this possible for the children of Wiri. We welcome any donations towards the cost of the Kisimani Kids’ Club.