Thursday the 28th of July marked the beginning of the primary school visits on the programme; all members of the group were excited to be surrounded by the ever-friendly children of Rungwe, and to discover more about the effects of the Tanzanian education system. One of the Mamas' famous breakfasts assisted us in our preparation for a fun, and insightful day in the wonderful warm weather. The group was divided to visit two particular schools; Kisa (Kasitu's school) and Bugoba.
Lucy Br, Hannah, Jessica J, Christian, Daniel, Beth, Sarah and I were set to visit Bugoba; one of the poorest primary schools in Rungwe. To begin the day, we hopped on Lulu and travelled at first in the extended group, dropping of those who were attending Kisa primary school on the way. This way, we got to glance at the amazing developments there, and also got to greet a happy and proud Kasitu at the bus door; and it's always fun when Kasitu is around! After a quick goodbye we headed along the twisty roads to Bugoba, causing us to witness just how rural schools in Tanzania can be. On this journey we encountered a humungous fallen tree in the middle of the road; which the locals must have had to work around in order to let transport (like Lulu the big blue bus) through, a piece of nature this large was always going to initiate a photo opportunity plan for the way home.
Through the hazy sunny weather, we could soon see a buzz of red and blue uniforms and we knew we were close. The bus soon pulled up outside our first primary school of the visit and the welcome was brilliant. The headmaster of the school greeted us first; sharply dressed and with a warm smile on his face to match the weather, the enthusiasm he showed for our arrival was incredibly heart-warming. Because of the vast amount of children who had waited for us that morning, we decided to run around their football field with them to get everybody prepared for the days excitement, which to be quite honest with you; tired out my unfit self, or maybe it's just the Tanzanian staple diet of ugali that allows one to run with little/no effort!
Our full Bugoba experience commenced with many 'shikamo's and a tour around the projects that CRCL has funded. It was humbling to learn that the money we have helped to raise had such a dramatic effect on schools as deserving as Bugoba. We were taken through beautifully finished classrooms with fitted windows and sturdy desks, and with the smell of fresh paint in our noses, sat down to take it all in and realised the difference the kindness of Cumbrian people can make; even to a little school all the way in rural Tanzania. We then proceeded to view the old classrooms, an emotional experience for all of us; there were faulty desks, failing ceilings and whole pieces of wall missing, causing many structures to be unstable and unsafe, especially for children. This demonstrated how much there was still to be done, starting with a fully-safe learning environment.
We followed the headmaster into a classroom full of people in the Bugoba government, teachers, and parents of pupils. Here we received speeches of appreciation and enthusiasm for the development of the school from the proud headmaster, and various government members. You could see how much they wanted to help Bugoba's pupils to thrive, and once again we were humbled by the thought that we had a part to play in allowing development to begin, especially to such a determined team of people.
At break time we were served delicious eggs and mandaze (which we plastered in sugar), yet another display of the school's kindness. The day continued and the talented pupils performed dancing and singing routines which impressed us all; two gifted boys played the drums at the front of the troop of students and the atmosphere was brilliant. They also sang Tanzania's national anthem beautifully, which caused a few of us to well up with tears. We followed this with a not so beautiful rendition of 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes', but the students seemed to love it. We sang a few tunes from our Tanzania songbook, such as 'rather be', and then I led a fantastic version of 'If you're happy and you know it'; which I'm sure made the students' eyes well up with sheer anger at my lack of talent.
In addition to the singing and dancing we aided some of the projects by painting some of the window frames and chipping off some paint that was left on the glass of the window. After this we ate a banquet of meat, veg and rice and were even given a bottle of Tanzania's most sugary soda, which is always a winner.
The school exhibited their amazing kindness once more at the end of the day in giving us each a beautiful kitenga, a piece of material with beautiful patterns all over it. We were taken aback by the generosity of the school and are extremely grateful for such a brilliant day! On the journey home we stopped off at the proposed photo opportunity spot, and took a triumphant photo posing with our gifts. Thank you Bugoba and good luck!