Volunteering at Mwandaliwa
“They’re not just ‘kids,’ they’re people. You can already see their personalities, they’re all different, and they’re genuinely good. They’re altruistic, smart, and look out for each other, they’re amazing,” Alice Aldrian says.
Alice has been volunteering with help2kids in Tanzania since January second and will stay through the end of May. She is already dreading her flight home. Though happy to see her friends and family in Austria, a piece of her heart will remain in Tanzania, more specifically, at Mwandaliwa Orphanage Centre, where she has taught 13 students alongside the nursery school teacher for the past few months.
In January 2015, help2kids partnered with Mwandaliwa Orphanage Centre to support their nursery school. The nursery school serves children from age three to six that live at the orphanage as well as a few local children from the community. Prior to the partnership, Mwandaliwa Nursery School’s teacher, Teacher Happy Esther, could not rely on a regular salary as the orphanage often lacked the funds to pay her. The walls were bare and the nursery school students lacked basic educational tools needed to learn.
Through our partnership, Teacher Happy Esther now receives regular, sufficient wages for her work. The old bare walls have been painted by help2kids staff and volunteers and offer bright, educational pictures.
A blackboard was painted on the classroom wall and colored pencils, pens, and storybooks were provided for the children to participate and learn. The classroom also lacked tables and chairs and it was difficult to hold the attention of young minds while kids sat around a mat. We were able to provide tables and chairs so the children can focus on their lessons and prepare for the environment they will find in primary school. We also provide the students with a healthy breakfast and snack each day, nourishing bodies as well as minds.
Mathilde Simon, help2kids Children’s Home and Education Coordinator, explains why providing a strong educational environment to nursery school students is vital to their overall development:
The nursery school is important because it focuses on the youngest children at Mwandaliwa Orphanage Centre, giving them the tools they need to grow and succeed. The nursery school brings these children the attention they need, the food needed to grow, and access to quality education so despite their circumstances, they’re not starting out with a disadvantage in the classroom.
Mathilde also stresses the value of volunteers in making this project a success. “Volunteers assume a very important role at Mwandaliwa, working with the teacher, sharing her responsibilities, and providing the children with much, much more attention than would otherwise be possible,” says Mathilde.
Due to the presence and assistance of volunteers, nursery school students can be divided by skill level to more effectively meet their educational needs. The teacher takes one group and volunteers work with the other group of students, helping them with English, social skills and behavior, and basic numbers.
Learning English is very important for future success in primary school. Volunteers utilize songs, games, and interactive activities to reinforce English with the students.
“They’re picking up on it quite well, I can see an obvious difference in their English from when we started,” says Alice.
“Their vocabulary is growing and will only continue to grow with the help of volunteers in the future. The general language we use in the classroom is English- they’re around it, and can ask questions, and they’re all very bright, they’re really picking it up.”
The students of Mwandaliwa are already intelligent, creative, and curious. The partnership with help2kids provides the tools for nursery students to grow and learn despite their circumstances. The nursery school equips them with the knowledge and confidence to succeed in primary school and expand their opportunities. Volunteers foster this growth with instruction paired with compassion and as Alice adds, a real “love for the kids.”