Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ricky Alexander report from Chalula library

The food situation is more than satisfactory. Henry is coordinating things on that front for me in the village as Aaron is busy with some local government business and has been ill with the flu the past week or so on top of it. Henry has been great, making sure I'm satisfied with everything and the food is great! I'm sure going to miss ugali and mchuzi when I get back to the US! haha Henry set me up very nicely in the guesthouse adjacent to the school and library and I'm sleeping there with the company of a few children who are very sweet. It works out well...I tutor them in English and they help me learn Swahili. So food/lodging are great! (Joseph has been very helpful with escorting me to and from transportation and helping me while I'm in town at Dodoma. He lives here in Dodoma and works with Habitat for Humanity but is very much in touch with Henry and Aaron and very helpful and responsible. He is a great contact and knowledgeable about development in rural areas in Tanzania.)

The library is a wonderful place for the children to read during school breaks and after classes get out for the day. It is a nice structure and the bookshelves and tables/chairs are in good condition. What is lacking are resources (as I'm guessing is the case with most if not all FAVL libraries and other educational facilities in sub-Saharan Africa). The 200 or so Swahili children's books are tattered from overuse and many are falling apart and need to be taped together. The English books do not get used much as the nearest secondary school is quite far and the teenagers rarely walk the distance to the library. (Also, many are not culturally relevant as they are American/Euro-centric). So...what is needed are more children's books in Swahili, beginners/intermediate level English-learning books, rudimentary English stories, bilingual materials would be ideal, and a comprehensive Swahili-English dictionary would be great. I look forward to discussing possibilities for utilizing FAVL funds and/or fundraising to send some of these resources to the Chalula library when I return.

While resources is the main issue, usage is very high. The library is usually very full with all the tables and chairs full and scores of children sitting on the floor/along the walls. The children understand the importance of education/literacy and seek it, when the facilities and encouragement are there to promote it.

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