We visited 3 schools throughout the week. Most of our time was spent at Ngaramtoni Primary School in Arusha, where we helped expand their chicken coop and served lunch to the children. The children at Ngaramtoni were very welcoming with their fist bumps, high fives, and hand holding. They even remembered our names! Stout brought a few soccer balls and jump ropes, so we were able to play games with the kids in the field and watched their band play with drums and symbols made from metal plates.
While half of the group worked on the chicken coop, the other half prepared and served lunch for 1,500 children. Normally, there is only one woman preparing lunch for the entire school. One coffee mug sized scoop of food is provided and it is often the only meal they will eat all day. Some of them walk 3-4 hours to and from school, with the meal being a huge motivation for them. Most of the children brought their own plates to eat from – Tupperware containers, lids, small bowls – anything they could find, really. Regardless of the struggles that seemed so obvious to us, all of the children seemed so happy, as this life is simply all they know.
To get to the second school, Mundarara, we drove over an hour down an unpaved dirt road. On the way, we saw giraffes walking in the distance the same way you’d see deer in someone’s backyard in Ohio! Mundarara struggled with a shortage of water, which had a major impact on their drinking water, agriculture, sanitation practices, and food preparation. They needed a new generator and Stout’s team is pulling together to get one for them. This really helped us see how much we take a simple thing like water for granted.
The third school was even further down the bumpy dirt road. Once we reached a certain point, the “road” ended and we had to get out of our cars and walk up a large hill to the school. The children were lined up across the top of the hill and sang to us as we arrived. We were surprised at how welcoming they were, as we had earlier learned we were the first white people the children had ever seen! Convoy of Hope was just beginning their journey at this school and they were thrilled to have us. All of their executives came to welcome us with a ceremony, where we each received a handmade necklace. Everyone from student to the executive was gleaming with joy knowing Convoy of Hope was there to help them.
Each school was unique and special in their own ways. It was an incredible experience visiting them.
Special thanks to Stout and Convoy of Hope for making this trip possible and for all they do to help others.