Posted by Harry Hope
Several years ago, the Rotary of Georgetown (a major contibutor to this effort) and another club in this district decided to take on the task of raising the funds to build a pre-school kindergartenin the area of Oltpesi, N. Tanzania after personally seeing the condition of the old school while on another project.
Besides raising the funds, participants wereneeded to complete the school, painting, etc.once the structure was up. Five clubs madea commitment to raise funds and 14 persons volunteered to travel to Tanzania to finishthe project. We were privileged to be 2 of them. In travelling to a country like Tanzania, one is reminded that one needs their immunizations up to date and minimize taking all that we think we need. Because we would eventually ended up flying on a small aircraft, our total baggage limit was 15kgs. per person. As we also were in a 2 person tent for 5 days, we really did not have a lot of room for excess baggage. Every morning about 6 am we were treated to a basin of warm water placed outside our tent flap - better than camping.  (Photo of old school)
On Monday, the first day, when we went to the old school, about a 20 minute drive from our camp, the children were so excited to see us and had songs to greet us. Soon Sara, whose dream it was for a new school, was there too and so excited to see a crew ready to work to make her school suitable to receive the children. The site for the new school was about 100 metres away from the old school. The outside of the school had a white putty coat, while the inside was already painted a “sunset cream”. This was a wonderful group of volunteers who all had had some experience in assessing what needed to be done, once our leader Tim Wright told us what was expected to be done in 3.5 days for the dedication on Thursday. We had all seen the mess of the school yard, plus the mess inside with an inch of dust on the floors, water barrels and other accoutrements.
One volunteer had seen a very large termite mound out in the schoolyard and made it his project to level it, soon elders were watching from under a tree, to see what was going on with the termites, while younger Maasaimen brought shovels to help. Others cleaned up the blocks and mortar, spread around the yard as well as lots of twigs with trippy roots. Piles of rocks eventually formed the outline of paths around the whole school. Both young and older Maasai women helped clean up, and move gravel as the days progressed. The four outside walls were painted in 1 1/2 days and the name of the school applied. Those painters had to put their ladder on the roof of a truck to reach the proper height. The name of the new school is Osiligi Osipa which is Swahili for Real Hope.
Meanwhile inside where it was cooler, Sara had expressed the idea of having painting son the walls, as well as the alphabet and the numbers 0 to 10. The appropriate stencils appeared with numbers being put on the front wall, both numerical, and printed in English and Swahili. The alphabet went on the back wall, both upper and lower case. As there was only one set of each alphabet and numbers, it took quite a while to have the right letters available for spelling words. One person was in charge of spelling the words, as they were needed both places. As there were 3 windows on each side wall, Sara wanted pictures drawn on the walls between. A computer and projector provide the images she wanted. One was a map ofthe world with Africa being the center, the next Africa alone and with all the Countries outlined, then Tanzania with all the States outlined. The persons who painted these maps had no idea they were so talented, their great work captured everyone’s interest. Every day we had very many interested Maasai visitors, both men andwomen in their colourful traditional dress. Elders also came to see what was being done for their children.
The carpenter was putting on the beautiful African wooden door as we were finishing up, ready to move all the tools and supplies out so the floors could be swept and washed. The floor was eventually washed 3 times. Everyone, including the students, went to the old school to move their equipment, shelves and bookcases over to the new school. Sara and Serawa, the teacher, did not quit smiling all the time. In the meantime Sara was asked what else she wanted and she suggested a cow, donkey and goat would look nice on the wall opposite the maps. Well we did have Thursday morning to do that, so using the same computer projector method on went the images and the painting began being completed by noon. When we went back to our camp for lunch, we passed guests walking to the school for the afternoon dedication ceremony.
On arriving back at 3pm for the dedication ceremony we were greeted by about 200 persons, dignitaries, elders, dancers, interested persons and family members ofthe children. Many prayers were offered for the school with thankfulness for the building and what it would mean to their children. That day the Maasai were elevated from being thought of as low class to being persons of stature. This new school was the first pre-school to meet the government criteria and specifications for this area.
On Friday, our last day, we presented Sara and Serewa with the Montessori school supplies which we had carried in our extra suitcases. It was another great day for everyone, we were very happy we were able to complete the school and know that when it soon rains the children and their supplies will be dry. Harry and I personally feel this group of volunteers were the best! No doubt Sara is dreaming of something else for her beloved children.… Report from Harry and Helen Hope
Helen and Harry with new friends.  Check and Kids4Kids to sponsor a child.