February 25, 2017: Preventing Child Marriage (Ann)

Promptly at 1.30pm on Monday afternoon Safari English Club gathered to enjoy photos of themselves at Fumba Town Services and having their first swimming lesson in Stone Town.  The boys must have gulped down their lunches in 10 minutes flat as they rushed to claim front seats! We discussed impressions of the visit and what information was relayed back to their families.  They’ve really embraced permaculture concepts such as improving the soil and not burning waste.  Their favourite things at the site were the soil, the plants, the flowers, the rocks, the chickens, the kitchen and, most interestingly, the toilets! The students loved making thank you posters on the theme of “The Environment”...for some reason tennis players in short skirts featured in three of the montages.  Inevitably there was much amusement when one student found the photos of a naked tribe featured in “The National Geographic”!

 The advanced students put together more detailed presentations on Permaculture and several students are interested in how to irrigate a plot of land that one of them owns. They each had the opportunity to give a short talk on three things they had learned from the visit to Fumba and at least one way in which they intended to change their lives inspired by the permaculture project. Composting and improving soil quality were topics that resonate with young people from this rural community.

Teamwork is important in working life and isn’t something that students experience at school.  It’s this week’s topic in “Work Readiness” and Gasica had a fun activity that he’d learnt on the Arusha Management Course to illustrate the concept. Students were divided into two teams.  The object of the game was to turn playing cards over in a particular sequence, running from one end of the room to the other to accomplish it.  All communication had to be in English!  Use of Kiswahili resulted in instant disqualification.  Competition was hot, to say the least.  There were three rounds, between which the teams were encouraged to do a post mortem and come up with improvements.  The team which lost the first round improverd quite dramatically and won the third.  More to this than ‘third time lucky’.   Just to make it really interesting, Gasica offered the equivalent of 75p to each member of the winning team.  The conclusion:  you need a plan, a strategy and good communication to win. And nothing works as well as a good incentive!

The week ended with a talk by  representatives of the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZAFELA). The group aims to empower women and children by providing legal aid services, lobbying on policy matters and awareness-raising.  We invited them to speak, but weren’t really sure what they’d talk about.  It turned out to be an inspired choice.  The topic was child marriage and how to prevent it.  Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in the world. 37% of girls in Tanzania are married before they turn 18 and in rural areas girls can be forced to get married as young as 11 years old.  The marriage generates an income for a poor family through a dowry which is then used by the boys in the family to secure a wife.  There is also a practice known as Nyumba ntobu which involves an older, wealthier woman paying a bride price for a young girl to become her wife. A man is then chosen to impregnate the girl and any children who are born belong to the older woman. When girls have to leave school due to failing their exams then they are particularly vulnerable to early marriage. The students were fascinated by the talk and they took copious notes about the causes and prevention of underage marriage. The headmaster, who is not usually known for his dynamism, wandered over to find out what was going on and said that this is a great topic for the students to learn about.  He dusted off the visitors’ book and got the contact details of ZAFELA so they may be back in Unguja Ukuu soon! 

Thursday was also notable as the day when lots of books arrived!  The new school text books financed by the Milele Foundation, arrived in an open air truck.  It was just lucky that it wasn’t a rainy day.  Students were seconded to unload the truck and we look forward to seeing the new resources in the classroom.