August 7: After the good news we received last week about Ufani School’s new clean-water system, today’s visit to Bacho Primary School was an eye-opener. Bacho School lies perhaps two miles from Ufani, and its water situation is grim. A muddy creek that flows past the school on its downhill side furnishes water for a dusty garden. The garden (if calling it that is not too grand) seems to be a source of pride: several dozen students had assembled during their vacation to carry buckets of water uphill to the garden from the creek.
However, the closest source of more-or-less drinkable water is on the school’s uphill side, a steep mile and a half toward the plateau above. On a typical day, Head Teacher Stephen Nakei sends fifteen or twenty of the school’s two hundred and fifty students on a trek up to the water source, carrying buckets. Needless to say, the water is not disinfected.
Karimu (www.karimufoundation.org) spent roughly $4,000 on Ufani School’s water system. A comparable system for Bacho School might cost several thousand more, since the water will need to be piped a much greater distance. But I don’t think Karimu can walk away from this need.
Paul Yoronimo, Ufani School’s longtime Head Teacher, who had accompanied us to Bacho School, mentioned a different kind of need on the walk back to Ufani. He and his fellow teachers hope for a laptop computer and a modem so that they can access information at Babati’s Internet cafés. This would help them both with lesson plans and with their ambitions for professional development.
It turns out that Paul could stop by an Internet café on most weekends when he takes the bus to Babati, where his wife and children live. If the teachers are excited about the laptop—for which we happen to have brought adequate cash to the village—then we may be even more thrilled by the knowledge that Paul should be able to communicate with us regularly throughout the year, when we are back in California. Poor communication exacts an incalculable toll on development projects in remote villages like this one.