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Friday, July 12, 2013

Lutherans Doing Good Works in Tanzania - Helping the Disabled

Education and Disabilities

Oh no - not another sad story!  Yes, but this is near the last of them.  We will get to the Safari and the animals fairly soon.

Our visit to two other Lutheran facilities focused on assistance to young people with disabilities.  The first stop was at Ushirika Wa Neema Deaconess Centre and Montessori Training School.  This is the home base for the Lutheran sisters who operate the nearby Neema Orphanage.

On a 40 acre plot of land, the sisters operate very self-sufficiently with a farm, convent (is that a proper Lutheran term or are my Catholic roots showing?) and training center for teachers.
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We spent a bit of time getting acquainted with the Montessori Training program.  It turns out that the Montessori method is very helpful when teaching the developmentally disabled.  The sisters' program here brings teachers in and instructs them in the method and they build their own teaching aids which they later put to work in their own communities.

Montessori is a very "hands-on" learning method and emphasizes learning by "discovery" as this sister explained to us in considerable detail.  The picture on the right shows a Montessori tool for discovering the mathematical equality of "one," two halves," "three thirds," etc.
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The grounds of the center were beautiful.  Even the laundry lines create a photo-opportunity.  The colorful clothing we saw throughout the country is obviously inspired by the color of the flowers.


But it requires a lot of manual labor to maintain the grounds and keep the farm operating.  We had a full tour of the farm buildings.
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After touring the facility we again had tea with milk, instant coffee and the ubiquitous peanuts.

A Place for Children with Disabilities

On one of our last days in the Moshi area, we visited one of the eleven neighborhood centers of the Building a Caring Community project.  These centers offer free day-care for children with disabilities freeing up their (frequently widowed) mothers, aunts or other caregivers to earn basic income.
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The disabilities are often severe and the resources meager, as we learned while meeting some of residents.
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Meanwhile, the family caregivers are learning some skills and given a chance to work via the micro-credit programs of the project's parent operation, Mosaic International.  One product being produced are the bags shown here.  At the end of the tour of the center, I noticed an ad for a Safari operator who contributes a portion of their fee to the charity of your choice.  They are targeting volunteers who might be working in the area but want to head out to one of the national parks for a few days.   Let's give them a link too.
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