By Anni Vase & Hanna-Mari Pulli
One of the orphanages Art in Tanzania supports in Dar es Salaam is an orphanage in Bunju. The Sifa Group Foundation’s orphanage has 32 children of various ages, from one to 16 years old. Some of the older children have a chance to go to school but the rest of the kids rely on the teaching of the volunteers and a local man Erick. Erick is 22 years old and has worked in the orphanage for one year. He does not get paid but hopes that one day his efforts will be noticed. He would like to study engineering but for that he would need a sponsor to pay the fees. Erick speaks English quite well as he spent two years in South-Africa. Besides Erick there are a few other people to take care of the daily tasks in the orphanage.
In the beginning of June, we had a chance to visit one of the morning lessons which was held by Art in Tanzania volunteers Kathleen and Maria. The lessons take place in the mornings, usually starting at nine o’clock.
During the lessons the kids learn English and math along with different games and drawing. At the beginning of our visit the sleeping area was turned into a playing- and teaching area and the children were seated at the desks. The class started with learning the months of the year in English and Swahili. The teacher called months in English and the class repeated them in Swahili and vice versa, followed by a month song that everyone sang together. After half an hour the older kids wrote the months down on paper while the younger kids practiced numbers. All the pencils and notebooks are shared since there are not enough for everyone. When the older kids came back from school, we had a chance to talk with them. For example, Monica (12) and Glory (13) can speak some English but they prefer to communicate by writing.
On the same day, the kids also got checked by two Art in Tanzania medical volunteers Andy and Cody. The kids’ heartbeat and breathing were tested and minor injuries such as cuts and scratches treated. Luckily majority of the kids are healthy and there were only two kids Andy and Cody would like to check again after a couple of days.
After the class and health checks it was time to play! The children wanted to show their skills with a skipping rope and we joined them in the jumping. Then we gave the children balloons and candy and they were welcomed with huge smiles and joy. The children kept the sweets as their little treasures and wanted to show them to us before eating them. Before we left, the kids also sang for us a song in Swahili. The song was well rehearsed and almost turned us into tears.
Donations such as notebooks, pencils, toys and clothes are needed in the orphanage and some of the older children are in need of sponsor to pay for their school fees. Art in Tanzania is also always looking for new volunteers to make a difference!