Today will be the official end to this blog. I hope that it has been enjoyable – as well as educational – for those of you who have chosen to get a small glimpse of life in Tanzania as seen through the eyes of a mzungu (white guy) passionary. Many of you actually did look in – we had a high of 50 hits in one day – which helped keep me going when I did my updates on days that the internet service in Iringa left a lot to be desired.
Twelve weeks is a long time on the road anywhere, but particularly in Tanzania. However, it turned out to be an accurate projection of what was needed – so for that I am grateful. We had both challenges and opportunities to address, and I can honestly say they were all met. Challenges centered around schools not up to snuff in one way or another, and staffing concerns with Miraji going to school. The school issues are particularly difficult because they demand some tough love in situations that are rife with challenges, but our program will fail if we do not demand accountability and sustainability. Tanzania is knee deep in back room failed computers, brought by well-meaning people, but without a plan to ensure their continued life and value.
At the end of the stay we had a brand new office, built at a total cost of about $4000 dollars (including rental for the next 15 years); a new Country Coordinator and a Country Technician, so that Miraji and Dismas can devote full attention to their studies; partnerships, maintenance agreements and internships with Tumaini University and Ruaha College; an Advisory Board of prominent Heads of Schools and noted educators; two new schools (for whom we must secure sponsors); a functioning Internet Library with the original class of teachers (the viongozi wa viongozi) excited and motivated to continue their program to integrate technology into their classrooms in the first term of 2009; blueprints and commitments for a second Rotary International project at Kichangani to build a computer study center and audio-video studio to continue our technology learning activities; and a strong partnership with the Minister of Education to create an internet cloud in the Iringa region to serve as a pilot for e-learning in the country.
I hope that all of you who have supported this work over the years share in our excitement and satisfaction of these accomplishments. Dollar for dollar we are making an amazing impact in a country that desperately needs to improve the quality of its education in order to grow the leaders it requires to address its problems and achieve its goals. Please continue your generosity to keep the successes coming. You really are making a difference.