April 30, 2016: Cholera and Kio Kits (Chloe)

Zanzibar is going through a tough time right now with a big outbreak of cholera which is getting worse every day due to the heavy rains. There are many new cases daily and 50% of deaths have happened in the last 2 weeks, with 80% of mortalities being children under eight years old. It’s very sad and you can see that a lot of people are worried about the situation. The authorities are trying to reverse the outbreak by shutting down all food stalls and some restaurants. There are public health announcements happening via text messages and over the radio and WHO are concentrating on purifying water sources. We hope things begin to improve soon and will keep you posted about the situation. On a happier note, despite a shaky start, the students of Unguja Ukuu have had a busy and exciting 2 weeks.
Monday 18 April: The students were incredibly disappointed that we had not been able to go on the school trip over the weekend due to the heavy rains. A lot of them felt like we had tricked and betrayed them and although they could understand it was out of our control, many still felt humiliated that they had allowed themselves to get so excited about something that didn’t happen. We promised we would try again the following Sunday, but it felt like a bit of a sombre start to the week with many students becoming reserved again and holding back smiles. It was an important lesson for us as teachers. I think in the future we will be more aware of just how emotional it is for the students to do things for the first time, and we will explain beforehand that although we will always do our best to follow our plans, sometimes in Zanzibar things happen which mean we might have to postpone or change them.
Wednesday 20 April: After revising the present simple we started the complicated task of teaching the students how to tell the time in English. This really is not an easy topic for our students as the system they use here is quite different. The day in Zanzibar starts at 6am. But instead of calling it 6am, it’s 0. 7am is 1 and so on. But they still use the British clock, so even though the number may say 2, for someone in Zanzibar it is 8 o’clock! Confusing isn’t it? We thought so, and so did our students. It has taken us most of the two weeks to get a real grip on it.
Thursday 21 April: Today we introduced the students and teachers at the school to the Kio kit computer system. The Zanzibar Rotary Club attended for an official handover and everyone at the school felt incredibly lucky to be the only school in Zanzibar with this technology available to them. The students definitely got to grips with the technology much faster than the teachers and were soon all off on their own searches of the Kio’s software. There were a few issues with the system, but all in all everyone had a great time and it was a very positive experience which Philip will provide more detail on in a separate report of all things Kio.
Sunday 24 April: At 10am in the morning (4 o’clock Zanzibari time!) we set off from Unguja Ukuu for the school trip. It was such a fantastic sight to see all the students dressed in yellow as we arrived. They had bought yellow t.shirts for all the teachers too and we looked and felt like a real team as we visited parts of the island. Our first stop was Jozani Forest which involved seeing lots of curious monkeys and a plank walk through the mangroves. We then spent the afternoon at Bwejuu beach. Gasica found us a wonderful spot with a little house we could use for shade and not another person in sight...just long stretches of white sand and turquoise sea. We played games, practiced English, ate a delicious lunch of pilau and went swimming in the sea. At first the boys waded in but the girls were much more hesitant, even though it was obvious they wanted to bathe too. Rayyan, a female teacher from ZL4LF, and I went to talk to the girls about ways they could manage bathing whilst staying respectable. It was wonderful to see that many of the girls did join in with the swimming, and I think many more will bring special clothes next time so they can take part too.
On our way back to Unguja Ukuu we stopped off in Paje for a walk along the beach. I think for some of the students this was their favourite part of the day as Paje is a place many have heard of, but never visited. They were intrigued by the tourists and what they do on holiday, as Unguja Ukuu is a forgotten part of the island and sees very few tourists passing through. Throughout the day I spoke to many of the students about what a magical day they were having. It transformed the class into a team. It was wonderful to see all ages and friendship
groups mixing and many students told me they would remember the day for ever...as will I. We returned back to Unguja Ukuu after dark - with a bus full of tired, but very happy students.
Monday 25 April: On the previous Thursday one of ourstudents, Doudi, who is a young adult with mild learning difficulties was excluded by the teachers from our class. The reasons were unclear, but also obvious, as prejudice against people who are different is sadly quite rife in Zanzibar. Doudi, Gasica and I were very upset as we all feel he is an important and valued member of our class. Not only is he always on time, respectful and interested, he also plays a vital role of teaching us all what it means to be a true team and how to appreciate one another for our differences as well as our similarities. On Thursday we had assured him he should still come on the trip.