There is a reason why we include the word ‘Community’ in our school name - our project is deeply rooted in the community, all of our children come from the local community, our staff, as far as possible, are recruited from the community, we purchase as much as we can from the local community, we support needy members of the community, and the community has been working together with us during all our growth and development.
We are always on the look out for new and innovative ways to spread our support to the wider Maruvango Village Community and consider this extended community work a very important aspect of the project.
We also have a policy of ‘helping villagers to help themselves,’ rather than providing direct hand-outs, which are a short-term fix and can lead to a culture of dependency. Here's how we do it......
Wherever possible, we employ our staff from in and around Maruvango Village including most of our teachers, our Headteacher, and all of our non teaching staff and support staff.
We have provided employment for parents in particularly difficult circumstances by developing projects such as our chicken house, our shoe making workshop and vegetable growing.
All of our building workers including our Building Manager and specialist labourers such as carpenters, welders, plumbers are employed locally.
A very important aspect of our project is the involvement of the family members, especially during the early stages of constructing our new buildings.
Although families are not in a position to pay for any aspect of their child's education, they are more than willing to pay in kind, and large parties of mothers, grandmothers, brothers, uncles etc organise themselves to help to clear the land, to dig and carry gravel, and to collect stones.
When specific projects are undertaken, such as bringing piped water to the school, voluntary working parties get together to dig trenches or whatever work is required.
We support the local community by sourcing and purchasing all of our fresh fruit, vegetables and dry foodstuffs from the local market or local villagers. We also purchase our milk fresh each day in the village.
Our desks, chairs and other furnishings are all made by a local craftsman from locally sourced grevillea wood and our building materials are all purchased from local suppliers.
We also aim to source all of our teaching materials and office furnishings locally, or at least in the nearby towns of Moshi or Arusha.
If we become aware of parents or family members who have specific personal needs we do our best to respond - such as finding medical help for a parent with serious medical issues.
Where possible we provide part time or full time employment for parents in particularly difficult circumstances - such as the father who was unable to pay for a roof for his home, a father who was left disabled as the sole survivor of a mining accident, and unable to support his family, a mother who had to leave her family home for reasons of her own personal safety.
We also encourage our staff to develop their skills and provide the funds or the support required, wherever possible.
We have been very privileged to be able to link up with a couple of really good projects in the village, benefitting the families of our school community in a long term sustainable way.
The Meru Dairy Goat project, set up by the Greater Milwaukee Synod in the USA involves providing widows and women caring for orphans with a goat, and this goat, which has been paid for by donations, provides milk for the family and much needed nutrition.
When that goat produces its first female kid, the woman then donates it to another needy family.
Initially 33 of our families were given one of these goats, and the school has also been given a male and a female goat for breeding purposes. It's obviously our hope that eventually all of our families will have one of these goats.