Heshima in Tanzania
Heshima is located in Kisongo,
a rural village about 16km outside Arusha, in Northern
Tanzania. This village largely serves the Maasai Community.
Sadly, Maasai people often face discrimination and prejudice
and find it difficult to get good jobs. At Heshima, we hope
to support these people by offering their children a good
start to life and school and offering their mothers training
and skills to enable them to make an income and become more
We have started a Mother and
Toddler Group on a Wednesday morning. Mothers are able to
learn some basic English, which will improve their chances
of getting a job and whilst they are busy their children are
able to engage in creative play: They sing songs, play
games, listen to a story and have a go at Art and Crafts.
All the activities are done in English. This is important
as if they donít have a basic understanding of English, they
soon get left behind at school and have no chance of being
accepted into a secondary school. We hope to eventually run
a full time play group so that these children go to school
with a good grounding of English that will help them to
achieve and be successful.
Class sizes in local schools
are big. Many teachers try to teach classes of 70 or more.
Children have to share desks and chairs and there are few
resources. We can offer children more individual help on a
Saturday. We can listen to their reading; help them with
their Maths and spend some time developing a sport such as
basketball or swimming. This supplements what they get in
school and they are able to ask for help with topics they do
not understand. Saturday school is making a difference and
has helped many students to improve their confidence and
therefore their achievement in school.
Heshima continues to promote
school partnerships. We know that links between schools
from different countries benefits everyone involved. We set
up and facilitate shared projects between schools and help
to arrange school visits. We also offer a variety of after
school clubs and workshops to enable students to experience
subjects that arenít often taught in schools such as Drama,
Music and Art.
To make a lasting difference to
the families that live around Heshima, we have started up a
textile training centre. A range of unemployed women come in
the morning to learn a skill. In the afternoon, they
continue with the household jobs such as collecting water
and wood that are expected of them. We have employed a full
time trainer and have had support from a volunteer in the UK
to start teaching four simple products that we will
hopefully be able to sell soon: serviettes; cushion covers;
hair scrunchies and buttons. We hope that before too long,
we will be able to offer these women an income so that they
can become more independent. We also hope to offer basic
business skills, English lessons and basic computer skills
to help them to set themselves up in business later on.
Itís nice to dream! So this is
what we picture in the future:
To complete the purpose
built textile centre that we have started building.
Develop a childrenís
Start a library for the
children in the area.
Build a nursery to ensure
all children have a good foundation from which to start
Start vocational training
for the unemployed men in the area.