TANZANIA: Volunteer with the Salesian-run Great Britain Bosco Volunteer Action reflects on her time at the Don Bosco Secondary School in Didia
(MissionNewswire) Rebecca, a young woman serving with the Salesian-run Great Britain Bosco Volunteer Action, wrote about her experiences in Tanzania and her time at the Don Bosco Secondary School in Didia. She has already served three months of nine months in Tanzania as part of her volunteer experience.
“One thing I quickly learned about Tanzania is the incredibly welcoming nature of the people here,” Rebecca noted in a letter. “Since I arrived, every person I have met has welcomed me like a family member, whether it be into their home, shop or school. Karibu (welcome in Kiswahili) must be the most common word here and this welcoming nature, from what I can see, is a strong part of the culture here, and is something I am very appreciative of.”
The Don Bosco Secondary School educates 1,200 students, aged 12 to 20 years old. Students start their days very early. They wake at 4:30 a.m. to study before 6:00 a.m. Mass. They then have lessons from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., games after school, rosary, supper and then study again until 10:00 p.m. Students are given time for games every day. They play volleyball, netball, basketball, handball and frisbee.
“The majority of our basketball team here are sponsored students,” Rebecca explained. “Although school fees here are not high compared to other private schools in the country, many students coming from villages struggle to keep up with their school fee payments and so being sponsored is their only chance to remain here—where their chance of learning English to a high standard is much higher than in free government schools. I have even heard of students bringing a pig in exchange for their school fees when they were unable to pay.”
Soon after arriving, Rebecca attended a class to learn how to structure English language lessons, which was led by one of the sisters from the community. Rebecca started teaching her own English lessons to students almost immediately after that first day. The first class she taught was a level one class with students in their first year of learning the English language.
“This added to the challenge as the students found it very difficult to understand me, and I had to quickly adapt in order to express what I meant,” explained Rebecca. “However, after two or three lessons, I felt much more comfortable and started to enjoy the freedom of teaching a class on my own.”
Rebecca also enjoys spending time with the students during lunchtime. They have played guitar together and she has passed on some of her musical skills to them. Of her time so far in Tanzania, Rebecca added, “I realize that I can’t have a life-changing impact on everyone in the school, but if I try my best every day and put all my energy into doing as much as I can to help the students, then I know I have done my best.”
In Tanzania, 67.9 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. While the country has seen some economic growth in tourism, mining, trade and communication, the number of Tanzanians living below the poverty line has marginally increased due to rapid population growth. In some regions, up to half of the population struggles to meet the cost of essential food and shelter and other basic necessities like clothing, health care and education.
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Salesian Missions – Tanzania
UNICEF – Tanzania