Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

22nd December 2013

Project Olbak Primary School – Summer 2013 by Annie Dixey

Home | News | Project Olbak Primary School – Summer 2013 by Annie Dixey

This year I travelled with 10 other students from Durham university travelled to a rural village in northern Tanzania to work with school children, to improve facilities in whatever way possible and necessary and to build water towers. Each one of us had a goal to raise money to fund the water tanks and a great deal of the project. On top of this we were lucky enough to receive a generous grant from Hazels Trust, to further improve the school.

We arrived at the school eager to help them and improve everything and most importantly make learning fun for the kids out there! Education is a real problem in Tanzania, and something that we were all keen and driven to tackle. We had our ups and downs along the way- as Ive found tends to happen in less developed countries.

We were keen to get an outdoor chalkboard for the school- we thought if we set it up early and used it during our 5 weeks away then the children would have learnt the educational fun you can have outdoor. The school also has a serious issue with the number of classrooms- meaning that the younger years only have half days of school because they need to share the classroom- we thought this would be a great way to tackle this problem. The issue being that the teachers lacked the enthusiasm that we had for this mini project. We had a team meeting and new we had to tackle things from a slightly different angle.

So by the end of the first week we hadnt started using the grant, nor did we know what we were going to do with it- we did however have a plan. We were going to involve the teachers, school founders and local council in the decision of how we used the money. We asked them for their ideas and were glad to find that they had loads, and it was down to us to decide which were the most sustainable.

The first thing we did was buy chalkboard paint and paint over all the old chalkboards which were so old it was no wonder the kids were struggling to learn and copy things from the board. We then bought coloured paint to make the library (a project we were already working on) more bright and exciting for the kids- this worked wonders! Every lunch and break, and even after school, we would hold teaching sessions in the library- and so many kids turned up that we had to turn people away. The kids wanted to come and learn instead of playing football or jumping rope- it was so gratifying to see.

We still had a lot of money left by the end of the second week and we had another group meeting. When helping out in classes we were shocked at the state of some of the desks and had been told by the school headmaster that they would need 100 more desks to seat every child comfortably (often 5 kids would sit on a desk made for 3). Although the money would never cover all that, we knew it was something we would be able to help with.

We had also been told how the older children were always keen to study before and after school to pass their exams- but the days were so short that they never had much time. One of our community workers had suggested getting solar lights for the classrooms- an idea that we thought was great- though we had to make sure they were somewhere that they would get sun, couldnt be taken, and wouldnt get covered in dust.

After thinking long and hard we decided we would split the money between both projects, and we bought 3 lights for the school- one for the library and one for the oldest standards room (which luckily had good enough windows to protect the light) and one for the teachers classroom, which they sometimes used to teach pupils who needed extra help as it was one of the best maintained rooms of the school. We also bought nails and hammers to make some desks from the old bits of wood they had lying around- we managed to make 11 fully functional desks from this. We also bought some brand new desks for the school- in total adding an extra 37 desks to the school.

With the remaining money we had we used it to laminate some of the books in the library. Over the years books had either been left to decay or laminated with plastic bags- neither of which left them in good condition. We managed to laminate 100 books- and although this may not sound like a lot- it was still something that was very important to them.

We would all like to thanks Hazels trust so much for enabling us to make this happen. Words cannot explain how grateful we are that they have helped us to help Olbak school in such a way. We know that the school and the children will forever be grateful for the changes we have made there and it has been a life changing experience not only for them but also for every single one of us. I am a firm believer that in helping others we help ourselves, by saving others we save ourselves.

A Financial Breakdown:

White Paint- 20,000 tsh – £8

Coloured Paint- 25,000tsh – £10

Chalkboard Paint- 22,000 tsh- £9

Lamination Paper- 25,000 tsh- £6

Hammer and nails- £19,800 tsh- £8

3 Solar lights- 184, 500 tsh- £74

Desks- 35,000 tsh each – £14 26 Desks- 910,000 tsh – £364

(Taking money out and the machine exchange rate varied but amounted to more than the difference from £500 )


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