Having finished our semester of teaching English in Oman, Marianne and I came back to California last week. Though I have more to report from Oman, I’ll need to devote most of this month to preparing for our forthcoming visit to Tanzania with two dozen volunteers. During the eighteen days separating our August 1 departure from San Francisco International Airport and our return on August 19, we will have to engage the villagers in critical discussion of how to allocate Karimu’s limited store of dollars.
We’re thrilled that we can involve our volunteers in completion of teachers’ apartments at both Ufani Primary School and Ayalagaya Secondary School. Yet, to some extent, we have become victims of our success, since the evident value of adding classrooms, offices, and teachers’ quarters to the local schools has encouraged the spread of Karimu’s mission beyond the upgrading of education. Granted that development work cannot stop with education, it can only move effectively forward on tracks greased by adequate funding. Karimu’s Board has already talked with the villagers about delivering clean water to Ufani School and supplying a clean-burning, fuel-efficient cooking stove to every local family and launching some of the programs planned by the area’s recently formed association of nurses and traditional midwives, who wish to bring drastic improvements to child and maternal healthcare. Our Board and volunteers will continue to work hard to raise more money until August 1. Depending on how well or how poorly we do, however, we might have to ask the villagers to decide which of these dire needs requires satisfaction the least.
I have my own opinion about this, as does Marianne, and I suspect that Karimu’s other Board members do as well. But, ultimately, the villagers themselves must decide what would benefit them most. Ever since its founding in 2008, Karimu has taken instruction from the villagers; it will always do so.—Don Stoll