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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lutherans Doing Good Works in Tanzania - Schools

The Evangelical Lutheran Church has a long history in Tanzania.  This website notes a beginning in the 19th century and claims 3,000,000 members.  Hospitals, orphanages, schools and libraries throughout the northern part of the country are operated by the local Lutheran Diocese.  We spent our first two days in the Moshi area on an intensive series of visits to several of these facilities.

A Secondary School

We started off at the Agape Lutheran Junior Seminary.  This is a boarding school providing secondary education for students 13 to 20 years of age.  Despite its religious "Seminary" title, the school mission is:
To provide a Christian Centered Education for preparation of students for effective leadership and service, while aiming for excellence in all educational and personal endeavors.
 And that is quite a task at a school sitting atop a rugged foothill of Mt. Kilimanjaro!  We were introduced to the school's head-mistress, sister Elistaha Mlay who described a few of her tasks such as construction manager and technology manager before giving us a campus tour.
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Sister Elistaha, in turn, introduced us to the math and physics teachers who joined us for coffee and a morning snack of peanuts and Mandazi (East African Doughnuts).
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The setting for the school on top of the hill offers a view of nearby villages and the ever-present tropical vegetation in this area.
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With about two hundred students boarding at the school (they were gone for a winter break while we were there - being south of the equator, seasons are reversed) much of sister Elistaha's time gets tied up in tasks like maintaining a water supply in spite of this leaky cinder-block cistern.

Local resources supply a lot of food.  There are 25 acres of corn grown on the slopes and plenty of bananas.  Here the combination of bananas and firewood are raw materials for the cook preparing lunch for the staff.
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A Primary School

We visited Kikoro Primary School after the Agape Seminary visit.  Although the students there were also on vacation, many put on their uniforms, came to the school and waited anxiously for their western visitors.  We were running a little late so excitement ran pretty high as we arrived.  We had brought along a few gifts of footballs (soccer balls), an American football and quite a bit of candy.  Handing these items out randomly produced something close to chaos, but our local guide, Nelson, managed to get the kids under control.
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They had an organized program of songs for their visitors and even listened patiently to the exchange of speeches between their teachers and the visitors.

I was happy to see that math was being given appropriate emphasis with these formulas for perimeter and area of a quarter-circle featured prominently on the side of the building.  We were given coffee and more peanuts.  Although we were in an area of coffee plantations, coffee is not a favored drink.  The customary drink here is tea with milk, no doubt derived from a long British presence.  Almost always, coffee was only offered in "instant" form.
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With all of the formalities out of the way, the kids were free to kick the footballs around with gusto and they did.  At one point a ball was descending on an arc straight toward the back of one of the ladies on our tour.  A thirteen year old deftly deflected it with his foot at about shoulder-blade height.  She never knew.

For More Details

Of the nineteen in our party, at least three of the younger members have maintained blogs.  See Tanzanian Travels by Rebekah, Tanzania 2013: Neema Orphanage and Beyond by Natalie and Tanzania Trip 2013 by Anna.  They all have interesting perspectives on the trip, especially on meeting the children and hard-working staff.

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