Week 3: Far More Than A School – Part 2
As a follow on from last week’s blog, there is one more aspect that clearly marks out Arise Community School from most other schools in Tanzania. It is just that, a “community” school in all senses of the word. Since the very first, Frank, whose parents gave the land on which the school is built and who, with his wife Salome, oversees the school, has worked incredibly hard not only to develop the school but to do so in such a way that it would become an integral part of the local community – their school for their children and for their community. Whilst at Arise, we were able to see how this is being achieved in a number of different ways.
Firstly, as a result of the ACE Sponsorship Scheme, Arise School is able to take any child in the local community, irrespective of his or her family’s ability to pay. One third of the children are only in school because of their sponsor’s support. Without this, their impoverished family circumstances would preclude them from education. Hopefully, they are given the chance to eventually lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Secondly, since it’s very early days, the school has opened its doors every Saturday afternoon to any child in the local community, whether or not they are a pupil. Between 60 and 100 children regularly attend the Kisimani Kids’ Club. The children have a rare opportunity to play games, sing songs and just to have some fun. Whilst there is always at least one teacher to oversee it, they are helped by local young people who give up their time, as volunteers, to make it special for the children. Some have also been helping to develop the school grounds, for example, by making benches for the children to sit on.
Thirdly, we have told in previous blogs how, earlier this year, the local community donated sand, cement, building materials and their labour to enable the fourth classroom to be started. They wanted more of their children to have this opportunity to go to school. When the classroom is finished in January, there will be up to 35 more places. Not only this, but the school might receive a donation of a bag of rice, some maize or beans or, perhaps some vegetables or cooking oil, from a parent who has some to spare – food to feed their community’s children.
Finally, we were able to see the Women’s Group in action during our visit. After school every Monday, a group of local women use one of the classrooms as a meeting place. They operate a small loan scheme to enable each other to pay school fees on time, to meet medical costs or even to start a small business. They buy in bulk or exchange vegetables, rice, cooking oil and the like. Not least, life can be very hard for them and they greatly value the support that they give to each other – practical, financial, emotional and social.
It is all these things that mark Arise Community School out as a true “community” school and make it “far more than a school”.
Please help us to continue to develop Arise School in this way by by donating online now at ACECharity.uk