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Archive for April, 2011

Upon our return home, Professor Buske had wonderful news awaiting!  The Fulbright Program selected Professor Sheryl Buske as a 2011-2012 Fulbright Scholar.

The U.S. Department of State refers to the Fulbright Program as “the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

This prestigiousaward sends approximately 1,100 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 125 countries with the “opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” 

During the 2011-2012 academic year Professor Buske will be traveling to Ghana to teach courses in children’s international human rights at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Faculty of Law, and working with local non-governmental organizations on the plight of homeless children, which in Ghana tend to be young girls.  The Charlotte School of Law is ecstatic to have a Fulbright Scholar part of the faculty and we all look forward to hearing of her impact on international human rights in Ghana upon her return.

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`Today was a travel we arrived in Zanzibar to a walking tour.  Zanzibar has some amazing architecture (different from other parts of Tanzania) due to its heavy middle eastern and islamic influence.  The local shops and homes all have some of the most amazing doors we had seen. 

We saw the local fish and spice market.  We saw large churches full of local history about the man who started the churches.  Including information about his reason for wanting to start the Anglican church there, his continued travel and final resting place (his heart remaining in Africa and his body back to England.)  One intresting fact about the church was the marble pillars that are in the back of the church were installed upside down and remain in the position to this day.

We were walked through the original Zanazibar  slave holdings under buildings.  Where slaves were kept before being shipped to the middle east.  The slaves were in tiny quarters not big enough to lie down or stand up in, and were given a shelf to crouch on so that they would not drown when the tide came in.

Before we left we saw the monument that was dedicated to the Africans that had been enslaved.  It was a life-changing event for us to see and contemplate just how much the slaves endured. 

Pictures to come of our journey upon return home!  

Asante sana squash banana!!!

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Today we went to SOS Arusha, the mama told us is an acronym for Save our Soul.  There are SOS villages all around the world, including the United States (2 in Illinois).  They are self-contained villages, where the children have no reunicafication or adoption hope because SOS does not seek those two paths.  Instead their resources are spent on housing the children and keeping them in their same house, and same families (the families being a consistent mama and the other children in that particular house).  Specifically at Arusha SOS they have 10 houses and 10 children per house (one mama per house).  

The children will continue to come back after reaching the age of majority for the holidays because this is truly a family environment and a place the children always consider home.  We are sending them donations of food and books to start a mini-library called “Carlos’ Library”.  We took a great video of a little boy named Carlos that wants to be an accountant and wanted nothing more than a library full of books so he could learn to pursue his goal.  The internet does not support video downloading here but we will post his interview upon returning to the States.

Another highlight invovled Ernest (our much needed driver and friend (rafiki)).  He took us (Ashley and Amber) to eat the local food that was extremely good food and an experience we will never forget.  You haven’t lived until you have tried the local chapatti.  It was great for us and entertaining for the locals to try to figure out what we were doing in their local spot.

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Ashley with the babies at Cradle of Love

Today was a fun-filled day of playing with children! Cradle of Love is an orphanage for children under 2 yrs old. It was just a short walk from where we are staying, so we headed over at 9am to see Davona (the director of Cradle) to learn about the organization. Most of the babies who are in the orphanage were placed there because their mothers died and the fathers cannot feed or take care of them without a mother.  The babies are referred to Cradle through the hospital, law enforcement, and community members.

Because the children are so young, most are not on solid food, so we brought a couple cases of different types of formula for the various age children. We also brought some baby clothes that were donated by friends in the US. We went on a tour of the facility and then were able to play with the children. There was one building designated only to the babies under 6 months old. Only certain people were allowed inside because the babies were very prone to infection. We were able to look at them through a window and there were some as young as 2 weeks old! As we entered the main play room for the children, we were swarmed with little arms reaching up for us to pick them up. Most of the time we were each holding two. We played and read books to them until it was time for them to take a nap. They were so cute and loved having their pictures taken.

Allison and Amber with the toddlers at Cradle of Love

After leaving Cradle of Love, we headed to Malaika Children’s Home. There were 14 children ranging from 2-9 yrs old. When we arrived, the children were just returning from feeding the cow. They were excited to see us and we immediately went inside to play a couple of rounds of duck-duck-goose. I (Ashley) was the first “goose” tapped and attempted to run around the circle but slipped on the floor, which the children thought was hilarious, and we all laughed. After an exciting game of duck-duck-goose, the children showed us books that the home had made for them with pictures of them from their time at the home.

Malaika Children's Home

We then went outside to play on the swings and see-saw followed by sitting with the children as they ate lunch. Most of them knew English because they attended a primary school that taught them from a young age. We were sad to leave them, but glad that we were able to leave them with lots of rice, cooking oil, and soap. We had an amazing day with the children and are excited to visit other orphanages in the days to come.

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Today was a short but rewarding day.  We went to an orphanage called The Good Samaritan that currently houses 27 children ranging from 6 months to 16 years old.  The children were so happy, smiles galore, and ecstatic about

Amber with Elijah at Good Samaritan

receiving a piece of candy.  One would think we had given them gold.  The donations (possible because of all of your help before our trip) were much appreciated.  We donated food and cleaning supplies for the children.  The children there were all abandoned children and taken in by the “father” there named Joseph.  Joseph explained to us that they wished they could put the children through college, and some go on to college anyway, but right now they are doing what they can to support the children until adulthood.

We had hoped to visit two orphanages today but we stayed too long talking to the children at Good Samaritan and the day was closing in on us.  Tomorrow we  hope to visit the other orphanage and a place called Cradle of Love.

Here is the website for the Good Samaritan, please look around and see the good they are spreading for children in Tanzania.

http://www.ubs-goodsamaritan.org/tanzania

Good Samaritan Orphanage

 

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Entrance to Mkombozi

Today we were able to visit two nonprofits that support street children. Mkombozi and Amani are both located in Moshi which is in the Kilimanjaro region. Mkombozi’s mission is to help children and youth grow in mind, body and spirit and to build a more caring society for all wherein family, neighborhood and community cohesion is built and supported by the rule of law. At Mkombozi we were able to talk to the director William who was a long time friend on Professor Buske’s. He explained to us that the center sends social workers to the streets to assess the children situations’ and encourage them to come to the center for help. The goal of the Mkombozi is to reunify the children with their families and communities. They also have a “mobile school” which is a bus the social workers take to the streets to school the children who cannot come to the center. We were given a tour of the facilities and saw some of the amazing art that the children painted on the walls of the center. It was great to see the center’s mission in action when we met several social workers on the street and spent some time talking to them about their struggles and experiences of working with the street children.

The group at the entrance of Amani

Next we went to Amani. Amani Children’s Home is committed to reducing the number of children living on the streets in Tanzania by providing a nurturing place for homeless children to heal, grow, and learn. In addition to providing long-term care, Amani aims to reunite children with their relatives when possible and to equip their families with the tools they need to be self-sustainable. Amani was different from Mkombozi because the children lived on site. Amani also has social workers who go to the streets to build relationships with the kids and try to show them how they can change their situation. There were about 70 children at the home, only one was a girl. They explained that girls are harder to identify them because many are in prostitution and sex trafficking so they are hidden from the plain view of observers. The social workers, however, have been putting in more effort to hire more female workers who can go into the streets and identify these girls and relate to them so that they can encourage them to receive help.

Some of the kids at Amani

Both organizations explained that their greatest challenge is to get community support. Even though there are new child laws protecting these street children, most of the villages do not know about the law and are still of the mindet that street children are a drain and should be removed not be integrated into society. The communities hold onto the previous law of the “undesirable persons” which allowed the government and communities to disregard these children and even put them in prison for not reason. Both organizations are desperately trying to change this mindset within the communities by educating them. Mkombozi focuses more on law suits and legal aspects of changing how the country perceives the street children and Amani focuses more on helping the children to become self-sufficient in a home-like setting.

While both organizations have some differences, they are both working toward the same goal of reunifying the children into the communities and with their families and are doing an amazing job. We were also able to donate 100 kg of rice, 30 liters of cooking oil and some soap to each organization which was much-needed and greatly appreciated!

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School children excited about lunch and their new desks!

We are playing a bit of catch up but the past few days have been very busy. On March 31st we visited the primary school to deliver the desks, lunch and put in a new floor for the students. It was an extremely exciting day. When we first arrived we met the headmaster of the secondary school, Mama Rebecca. (In Tanzania, the women with children of their own are referred to as Mama (insert child’s name)). We visited a secondary school classroom and introduced ourselves, then we walked over to the primary school.

The primary school has about 100 students per 1 teacher. The children travel on foot as far as 7km to attend. Many leave without breakfast, very early in the morning and because the government does not provide money for food they

Primary school children with their bowls waiting for lunch.

do not receive lunch at school. This day was a very special day because we provided lunch for the children. The headmaster told us that over 100 more students came to school  in order to get lunch. Each student came to school with a bowl and spoon from home.  While we were there we visited classrooms, Prof. Buske and Prof. Wofford had the students engaged in math relays  of numbers up to six digits long on the board. Team Rebecca won! It was a lot of fun. We presented the desks and helped mix the concrete for the new floor, both gifts were provided by the generous donations of our friends and families. That day the older Maasai students at the school preformed the traditional Maasai dance for us, which was incredible! Hopefully, we’ll have a video up here soon.

Students dancing the traditional Maasai Dance

In Tanzania 50% of the population is under 18 years old. Of that 50% only 20% ever receive a formal education. The concern is that the elderly generation will naturally die off. The parents of these children are largely suffering from Malaria, HIV and AIDS, so their life expectancy is significantly shorter than past generations. As a result over the next ten+ years, only about 20% of the population will be educated. Lunches, sufficient facilities and plenty of desks for students contribute to attendance at school and is an important part of preparing Tanzania’s children for the future. It was an extremely fulfilling and powerful experience to serve the children lunch and see how much it all meant to them and their teachers. It was a great day. :)

Amber and Ashley mixing the concrete for the new floor

Prof. Wofford math relay!

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