December 10, 2016: Swimming and peg dolls (Ann)

Swimming lessons are high on our list of skills to teach in Unguja Ukuu.  There isn’t a culture of learning to swim, even though the island is surrounded by the most idyllic beaches.  As a result every year there are many drownings, particularly amongst girls who don’t learn to swim.  There’s always “something better” girls should be doing with their time. With the agreement of the Zanzibar government, the RNLI from the UK has started a learn to swim programme.  Lastweek we had a great meeting with the organisers to see if we can get Unguja Ukuu enrolled into the programme. Meanwhile we have a UK teenager collecting goggles from her friends to be carried out here by our friends when they come here.  If you want to collect googles and send them out with people travelling here from the UK, please let us know. 

Caroline is back in the driving seat, but there’s always something new to learn about road etiquette.  Last week we had a close encounter with the presidential motorcade.  Caroline didn’t realise that when you see an extremely large landrover careering down the wrong side of the road you should immediately give way and drive into the nearest ditch.  Failure to do this sufficiently quickly led to a tongue lashing from the policeman who was unfortunately observing the incident.  Sadiq, our local teacher, was in the car during the incident, was harranged by the policemen and even with our rudimentary Swahili we understood that it was his responsibility to tell the “Mama” to get off the road!

The Kio Kits have had a welcome upgrade.  An engineer visited from Kenya and he added lots more content which will be great for teaching English and also for the students to direct their own learning.  Monday and Tuesday was spent exploring the new programmes so that we could report back to the teachers on what they will find useful to enhance lessons.  It’s also going to be easy for us to add our own content.  And we have more visitors coming to see the kits in action – Unguja Ukuu is leading the way on this innovative approach to education on the island thanks to our Rotary supporters.

We were honoured that Gasica was the guest speaker at the local Rotary Club Gala Dinner.  Everyone enjoyed hearing him speak, especially the waiters and waitresses who cheered him from the side of the room. Gasica maintained sartorial standards with a jacket and tie in spite of 30 degrees heat and the event raised $17,000 to be spent on very necessary education and health projects around the island.  We’re excited that our silent auction bid was successful in securing us a dinner for 6 people cooked by his catering students.           

Gasica is firing on all cylinders after his UK visit.  He asked Caroline to run a basic accounting and spreadsheet course so that he can assess the profitability of his various enterprises including the Bicycle Workshop and Chicken Farm.  Six students participated and Caroline was really impressed with their enthusiasm and how quickly they picked up the principles of accountancy and gained skill in using Excel. 

I’m helping the website team to put together a new site which is all part of the re-branding exercise that will transform PLCI into Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation in January 2017.   As I explained to the keen web team, it’snot that I’m a website expert, it’s just that I’ve done one more than them!  We’re all learning together and they are doing a great job of checking the brief with Gasica and writing the copy.

The students love the “Fun Thursdays” concept that Chloe introduced and, using their best English they told us that they hoped the tradition would be continued.  So no pressure there!  We’d brought traditional wooden pegs from the UK which the students made into peg dolls.  They are now schooled in the great Blue Peter tradition of using pipe cleaners and bits of newspaper and ribbons to make magnificent objects.  Everyone entered into the enterprise with much enthusiasm, even the teenage boys.  The class wrapped up with small groups performing mini plays with their peg dolls.  All the dolls were carefully taken home at the end of the class.

One of the biggest problems on the island (and the reason for Safari English Club) is that students leave school unable to speak English, which is the key to getting a job on an island where the main economy is the tourist industry.  In addition, employers struggle to give jobs to local people whose culture doesn’t prepare them for the expectations of the first world hospitality industry.   Sowe’re planning to run a course for our more advanced students on the important concepts of time keeping, employer expectations as well as helping them prepare CVs, learn how to look for jobs and interview techniques.  The idea is to creat a sustainable programme that Gasica and his team can roll out as “Jobs 4 Life” at Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation.  If you’d like to help with developing the course content, we’d love to hear from you!

Also, we are looking for volunteers to come to work at Zanzibar Schools Project in 2017.  So if you know of anyone who might be interested, please let us know.  Ideally candidates should have experience of working with young people, have taken a TEFLcourse or have teaching experience.  We’d ideally like people who are able to come for 3 months as this is the ideal time to get the most out of a stay.  In return we offer a fantastic experience!