Kunduchi English Corner
Kunduchi is a fishing village north of Dar es Salaam home to two of help2kids projects. It is here, along the shoreline, that help2kids volunteers and Dizenyeto lead nursery classes in the morning. In the afternoon, it is also here that volunteers teach adult English courses.
The English Corner with the fishermen of Kunduchi takes place in the afternoons Monday-Thursday. The pupils, mostly young men from the surrounding area, range in skill level from illiterate in Swahili to advanced in English. The volunteers have their hands full trying to accommodate so many different skill levels, but they manage it gracefully.
Currently there are between 10-15 students every day, a great improvement over the 2-5 from last October. Although most come from Kunduchi, there are one or two who travel much farther for the free English course. One woman takes three buses to reach the class every day! When last there, I spent time helping the newest student, who wasn’t even able to read or write in Swahili. We started with the alphabet and didn’t get much farther but he seemed thrilled just to have a teacher, perhaps for the first time in his life.
One of the fisherman had this to a say about the opportunity to study English: My name is Nasib Sheha Aliy but here at class I’m known as Kassim. I was born in Zanzibar. Honestly I like to study English because this is an international language, so I believe one day I will know to speak it without doubt. Of course I have some purpose through it that why I come here every day. I trust myself I will reach my destination through it.
According to a recent volunteer, the experiences in Kunduchi are mutually beneficial:
Throughout my trip, working with the fishermen in Kunduchi during English Corner was the highlight. Although I was there to teach the fishermen English, instead, I often found myself gleaning valuable lessons from them. The fishermen are abidingly friendly, kind and eager students. Their passion, fervor and enthusiasm serve as a great example to all those they touch. The students at English Corner work long and difficult days, and simply showing up speaks volumes about their willingness to learn and the sacrifices they make to do so. Casimo, an advanced student, engaged me with questions throughout each lesson, returned home to practice more, and would come back the next day with a new batch of questions. Their joy, companionship and devotion have served as a great lesson to me during my stay in Tanzania.
On a recent visit to Kunduchi to photograph our star students and devoted teachers, I was taken on a tour of the village by Dizenyeto. I felt very conspicuous wandering through the fish markets and navigating the tiny gaps between houses, a feeling that was exaggerated by all the cries of “mzungu” (white person) thrown my way by children and adults alike. It didn’t help that I had a camera around my neck either. (But it did help me capture some sights of Kunduchi.)
Although it is often said, I forget that Kunduchi is a fishing village. The whole economy of the village relies on what the fishermen bring in. Most of the adult population works with sea life and therefore has no qualms about handling squid or lobsters (although I firmly declined to hold either). Working in the heat surrounded by the smell of fish can’t be a pleasant experience, but it is the only life for an uneducated resident of this village on the edge of Dar es Salaam.
I caught glimpses of the children from the nursery school as they scampered along the dirt paths or sat playing with rubbish in the small yards. I met a woman whose sole source of income is pouring bags of water and making ice. I made a child cry simply by being too close to him.
As we wandered around the village, most everyone greeted Dizenyeto and all the children addressed him as “Walimu” meaning teacher. He gently chided parents who had forgotten to send their little ones to the nursery classes. (It worked; the next day there were about 20 more students!)
My tour of Kunduchi gave me insight into why help2kids education projects are so necessary in this village. The population lives on the edge of the sea and on the edge of the economy, a few bad fishing days away from collapse. Education builds a more fortified future and gives people control over their lives. In Kunduchi, there is no greater need.
I am here now or all day because I am like to speak English. For now without English there is not services for example education or opportunity of job. English is very very nice. If you want to get good job just known English or another language. This is reason I am here now!