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Mission Possible 2017 blog: From Painting to Hugs and High Fives

27th October, 2017

For the Mission Possible volunteers on Team Alpha - Habiyah Balesi, Kiren Shafiq, Mukhtar Kasmani and Yusuf Kassam - the third and fourth days of their deployment in Tanzania meant going 'back to school' to paint, build and learn how local youngsters with special needs cope with their environment.

Day 3

We started the day with a tour of a secondary school, where we were introduced to teachers and went to three different classes. Whilst having a discussion with the students and teachers of varying classes, we were told repeatedly that their first concern was the lack of accessible water.
We proceeded to carry out our set tasks which included painting walls and ceilings, and helping build a foundation coating of wood for a new classroom roof.

We went to meet the villagers of Mseko and were introduced to 9 families who were going to receive water pumps that we had raised funds for. Each water pump was given to 3 families. We discussed and asked how the families would benefit from these.

They explained that they would start farming and try to start a business to provide livelihoods for their household. We then went to visit the lake where the villagers would be sourcing the water from, via their new pumps, to get an idea of their previous struggles.

Day 4

After breakfast, our group was assigned to go to Pangani town to visit a secondary school which had a class of special need students. En route we had to cross the river via the ferry to get into Pangani town. The town was far more developed compared with the villages we had seen so far. While on the journey, we stopped at a couple of local shops where we picked up some local snacks (crisps, or as the locals call them crips and Mbuiu) which made a couple of the team members quite happy.

We visited a special education classroom and were greeted by the headmaster and a couple of members of the local community. There were introductions with the faculty and other groups from the community such as members of the council and a few parents. The headmaster explained the importance of why these 16 students needed to be given a fair opportunity to gain an education and taught life skills. We then distributed equipment which had been bought with the funds we had raised for these children.

These included a TV, DVD player, speakers, towels and other essentials for the children. We set up the TV, DVD player and speakers to show them how they worked and explained what each piece of equipment could be used for. For example, we explained why the TV would help with their development as they could watch and learn from programmes and the teacher could assess their listening and understanding skills.

One of the members of our team, Yusuf, who does a similar type of job in the UK, asked questions and was surprised to learn there was only one teacher covering up to 5 subjects for the 16 students. By contrary, in a similar scenario in the UK there would be one teacher to 3 to 5 students so each receives individual attention. The comparisons between this school and UK schooling continued as we chatted to the teacher.

At this point we called all the students and the teacher to come up for pictures, hugs and high fives which all of them were eager to do. We didn’t want to leave; despite our sadness at the circumstances they face, we could see how happy they were.

It was then on to the fish market to help complete the digging of a well and the taps. We were limited in what we could do because of the rain from the previous day but, following the instructions of the locals, we decided to help by renovating and helped plaster the taps where the water would come out.

After this, we were taken for a tour of the fish market which helps boost the economy of Pangani Town as well as making it easier for villagers to shop from and trade. 

After lunch we united with another of the Mission Possible volunteer teams to help build and donate beehives to a primary school.

We helped the faculty in setting up the beehives using the methods shown to us. This included wetting the boxes with water, smoking them out, and then coating the panels under the lid with molten beeswax. As a team we carried a couple of the beehives to the tree to hang them up to allow bees to be attracted.