My trip to Tanzania is just 58 days away!
I never thought I would be this excited to travel somewhere I’ve already been before. There are a multitude of reasons for this excitement (namely those I outlined in my first post) but today I wanted to touch on my reason for visiting Tanzania.
And I know it probably seems fairly obvious. As the Executive Director, I need to make sure I’m keeping up to date on everything happening in the school. But the other reason I’m going is actually to lend Grace a hand.
Although Grace is a really talented, hard-working woman, she’s only one person. For the last 2+ years she has been operating the school entirely on her own, often for little or no pay. When Nikki and I taught in her class back in 2013, she was so grateful for the burden we lifted from her. I remember one morning when I arrived before her and began taking attendance; the look on her face when she stepped into the classroom and saw that everything was already in order was absolutely priceless. She thanked us for months after we left, and asked again and again when we might come help her with her class again.
Since leaving Arusha Integrated and beginning her work with us, Grace has had little such help. She does have a friend who is a fellow teacher and has helped out on occasion; unfortunately, this friend can’t help on a regular basis.
We have considered the use of volunteers to help teach in our school, but each time decided it wasn’t right for us. Namely, the reason for starting the school and this organization was to help people locally, providing jobs with decent salaries; voluntourism, though great for other reasons, isn’t a solution to our problem. A few people have suggested local volunteers instead, and while we are open to this idea, we have yet to find anyone willing to devote so much time and effort to us without compensation. So, until such a time as we can afford a second teacher salary, Grace will likely remain the only teacher in the school.
In order to aid Grace in the meantime, my visit will be aimed at creating systems of organization for Grace to follow. I intend to devise specific filing protocols, as well as implement a variety of procedures regarding student sponsorship and accounting practices. These protocols will help our US team more easily process any paperwork Grace submits to us, as well as streamline the work.
The other goal of my visit is to help Grace further develop the curriculum for our Real-World Learning program. This program is still in its infancy, and because we haven’t had a staff member devoted to working through and implementing the program, it has only been partially integrated into the Saving Grace curriculum. We’d like to see a full integration by next year.
By working on these projects instead of helping Grace teach her classes, I will effectively remain in the background, and not disrupt the regular routine of our students. Additionally, by limiting the number of visitors, the students will not become accustomed to having people come and go from their lives, as is often the problem with volunteer-centered work in a foreign country. It is extremely difficult for children to form a bond with a volunteer, only to have them leave a few weeks later and never return. However, because I intend to have repeat visits, we are not worried about this issue, and I intend to form relationships with all of the students in order to best understand what they need from the school and from the organization.
Although my stay is only for two weeks, I hope Grace and I can get a lot accomplished to make sure that things continue to run smoothly for her when I leave. Grace is very excited for my visit as well, both for personal and professional reasons, and I really hope we’re able to get down to business!