This past Monday marked our first full week spent in Bagamoyo, working with Gladness and Elias at the Sasamani office. It was an amazing week, spent meeting Sasamani students and visiting Kingani Secondary School, one of the three secondary schools in Bagamoyo attended by Sasamani sponsor students. On our first visit to Kingani, we had the opportunity to talk with the Second Headmaster, Mr. Stevens, who shared with us valuable insight on the landscape of Tanzanian education and the most pressing needs he sees for students. We are currently working to understand the kinds of skills that are most important to impart in secondary school students for their academic and social success moving forward, and our conversation with Mr. Stevens was immensely helpful. Mr. Stevens proceeded to bring us to a classroom of around 20 form four girls, who talked to us about what they have learned in school about gender and gender inequalities; we had an amazing informal chat with them about gender roles in Tanzania and the United States. We also met a group of incredible Sasamani students at Kingani. The girls brought out drums and insisted that we dance and sing with them. The girls are also pushing us to learn more Swahili; we promised Kaituni and Esther that we would learn 10 new Swahili words by the time we saw them again on Monday, and so we spent the weekend studying up!
Franceine and I also put our teacher hats on for the first time this week. At Kingani, Franceine taught a form 4 class lab practical involving separating photosynthetic pigments from leaves via chromatography. On Monday, I worked with a group of Form 3 students, leading a class discussion on sociology and gender socialization. We talked about how we learn gender, and brainstormed the characteristics of femininity and masculinity that have become norms in our lives. It was an absolute privilege working with the students, and we are looking forward to doing the same at Kiromo and Matimbwa Secondary Schools in the coming weeks.
Back at the Sasamani office, we had the utmost privilege of interviewing four incredible Sasamani sponsor students, Shufaa, Siaba, Mbaraka, and Ramadan, who have all graduated from secondary school and who have continued to pursue their education with the help of Sasamani. Shufaa has graduated from Form 4 and is currently applying for college; Siaba has just been accepted into a four-year nursing university; Mbaraka is currenly applying for nursing college; and Ramadan has received his Bachelors of Science in Biotechnology from Sokoine University of Agriculture, and is currently volunteering at Ifakara Health Institute doing malaria research, while simultaneously teaching biology and chemistry to Form 1 through Form 4 students at a secondary school in Bagamoyo. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to hear the stories of these four amazing individuals, who are not only intelligent, determined and hardworking, but also kind and giving.
We feel so at home here in Bagamoyo, staying with Gladness and Allen in their beautiful home; spending time with Elias, Salome, and their 2-year old daughter, Natasha; meeting Gladness’ pastor; being invited to the home of Maria, a tailor who made us clothes from Tanzanian Kanga cloth; and being invited to the home of the Kingani headmaster to meet his children. We are so grateful for the warm welcome, and happy to be here!
All the best,