21.01.2009 - 21.01.2009 25 °C
On my second day in Arusha I visited the school room in the children’s village. The room is an almost complete large hall made completely of timber, with large airy windows and huge verandahs on the outside. At the moment it’s used for the chekechea (pre-school) in the mornings and after-school tutoring in the afternoons, but will soon be divided into two, so that one half will be used for adult education.
Anyway, I visited for the first time on my second day here, and was completely unprepared. I walked in to see Helen, another volunteer getting organised as kids kept entering the room. As it has just started operating, she was unsure exactly how many would turn up. After I offered to help her out, she said that the ten or twelve kids in the room would probably be all of them, so she should just start. But they just kept coming, until we had thirty five children aged from about 3 to 12 years old. At the beginning I kept the littlest ones busy showing them how to draw butterflies and simple shapes on small chalkboards, which they loved especially when the shapes formed a picture they recognised. It really hit me how poor the families are here, you can tell by the clothes the children are dressed in. The kids here wear second hand clothes, which for boys means shorts or long pants and shirts, but most of the little girls are always dressed in old fashioned princessy type flower-girl dresses, which I’m sure they feel pretty in, but the ribbons on the dresses are ripped, hems are coming apart, and they are badly stained. Some lucky girls have braided hair, but as most mothers can’t braid and it can be relatively expensive to pay for braiding, most girls have their heads shaved.
After Helen had begun her maths class, she asked me to help her out with the older kids. They were really polite, and loved practising their English with me. They greeted me by shaking my hand, saying good morning and telling me their name. After our greetings, we sat in a circle and played a game rolling dice and adding up the numbers in Swahili and English. I ended up staying for the whole class, and helped Helen tidy up afterwards before the walk back to the volunteer village. It was a really great first experience for me with these children, and I’m planning to hopefully help out there at least one day a week.