Buildling a Strong Foundation For Zanzibar

Jambo Danmark - Travel letter from Zanzibar  April 15  2016 Gry and Claus Andreasen

We are a small family of 4, which is taken down here for 6 months as part of CICEDS. volunteer program. We work in a school for young people aged 15-24. The students at the school are there to finalize or start their primary school. The students have never completed or started primary school, either because of early marriages, pregnancies, child labor or poverty. Or they have never been to school for other reasons. In other words, these young people have been more through than we Danes can imagine, but we must deal with and be humble about.

We have settled us a little outside of Stone Town in Mbweni (Zanzibar, ed.), Where our two children Noah 10 years old and Sigurd of 7 years, yesterday at the International School, ISZ. Here goes over 30 different nationalities. Our children came here with limited English skills, but here two months into the course, they speak fluent English now. Deeply impressive and very inspiring. We have a huge network and are happy to share experience and advice with other parents. Here, the shared ideas and made collaboration across all the NGOs and other projects that are in progress in Zanzibar. 

ALC School is built with an 'academic' part and a vocational part. This should help them prepare for a subsequent training. The business side is built around workshops, where students can choose to take housekeeping, tailoring, cooking, computer or electrician course. The courses are preparatory to a subsequent training. The academic part is primarily built around Swahili, English and mathematics. 

We started out with wanting to teach English and mathematics, but quickly learned that mathematics was too hard to teach because. The many concepts course contains and the students' limited English skills. So now we teach English and in tailoring workshop. It may sound paradoxical that we can only teach English, but the course is pretty straight forward. It is for the students to dare to speak and we are down to the most basic sentence starters. 

Gry has set the end of the table for the school's sewing workshop. Now being produced bags, purses and pants in the finest local "kanga cloth" (the local fabric, with its many colors and with different messages), all with a view to resale. The students can then put money into their own pockets or invest in new material. Thereby the contractor perspective into their thoughts. 

Gry try to give students methods and skills so that they can best cope in any further tailor training. Funding for the workshops is not large. As a teacher or student you must bring your own materials, which for the majority of students is almost impossible when they come for very poor conditions. The success of Gry's sewing workshop is partly due to private meadows ment, but also a donation from a Norwegian couple who thought that working with the sewing workshop was inspiring and made sense. They donated therefore amount to Gry, who then could buy, scissors, thread, fabric etc.

Claus at school in the morning, where he teaches English along with Gry, but in the afternoon he advises the Department of Adult Education. He has been able to help systematise and streamline the work. Among other things, drafted a charter of expectations between the department and school, formulated a learning basis for the school, showing clearly and sharpens the essence of learning. Furthermore the establishment of a worthy basis for school. 

The challenge has, among other things, that the school and the department have not worked well together for a while. The school has set its own agenda and not met the department's expectations -and vice versa. With a little guidance, there now opened up a dialogue between the department and the school in order to re-prepare the target for the school: "To give the students the best possible conditions, in order to take subsequent training." There are now created an action plan and it will be exciting to be involved. The department and the school has been very pleased with the inputs given, but the process is difficult and it will be interesting to see what the output is.

Challenges are plenty down here, and we can make a list that is as long as a shopping list in the Net  Saturday morning. You may be without electricity and water in a half day, the infrastructure is hopeless, you often get the impression that people waste their own and each other's time and everything is "pole pole" (that we do not reach the day when we in the morning), and one reaches very few things in a day for the home. But the list of experiences and new knowledge is fortunately twice as long. For there is no doubt that what to go as a family to another country, another continent, another culture and a very different economic standard of living gives perspective in life and we are sure that both children and adults come home as more knowledgeable, efficient and reflective people.