This morning Dr. Susan Hughmanick and Faren Clum, a future doctor, presented their handwashing lesson to the children of Ufani School. They used ultraviolet light and a bacteria simulator called Glo Germ to show the children how washing with soap produces dramatically better results than washing with water alone. The lesson entertained and impressed the children and provoked them to ask in front of the head teacher, Paul, as some of their parents had asked Tiffany Wise-West, whether water itself could carry disease-producing bacteria. So by mid-day Paul had suggested to Marianne that Karimu should add sinks to the latrine now under construction and also install a tank to hold chlorine-treated drinking water at the school.
What Karimu can do might not coincide with what we would like to do, which certainly includes putting sinks as well as a tank for drinking water at Ufani. In addition, though, the school needs seven hundred new textbooks only one year after we bought more than a thousand books—all the children needed, we believed at the time. However, since then the Tanzanian government has revamped the national curriculum for the upper grades of primary school. And the outstanding scores of Ufani graduates on last September’s secondary school entrance exam, highest among one hundred fifty primary schools in their district, have earned the teachers some consideration. Paul and the assistant head teacher, Daniel, requested funding for professional development of all Ufani teachers as long ago as 2008. As the school has improved and more parents have sent children there, the government has increased the number of its teachers from six to nine. But so far Karimu has done nothing for the teachers and we think our debt is past due.
We have only three more days in the village before saying goodbye for the year and heading off on safari, so Joas and Marianne and I and the teachers and the school committee must all meet very soon to decide our priorities.—Don Stoll