Morgan’s Story – in Magugu, Tanzania

Cheeky smiles, ample cuddles, dusty roads, dirty feet, friendly greetings, harmonising voices, dazzling colours, poverty yet complete happiness: these are only a few of the ways to sum up my time in Magugu, Tanzania. Magugu has changed my life; this poor, poverty stricken, deliriously hot but simply incredible village holds the power to both break and restore your heart. Our RATA team of 7 spent a week observing, mentoring, modeling and team teaching in the Joshua Foundation School in Magugu.

From morning devotions – in which the children sing, dance and play drums by using sticks on the corners of their desks – to the bubbly farewells and high-5’s at the end of the day, my idea of what is important in both education and life has been drastically challenged. These children walk in the searing heat to school each day only to work in a bare classroom in which their teachers stand at the front of the class and read straight from a textbook. The children are expected to sit quietly and listen, with the occasional repeat-after-me sentence and yet they are so happy and appreciative of their opportunity to be there. They want to learn.

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I was lucky to work with a beautiful young teacher, Safina, who was recently trained at the Joshua Foundation Training College. Safina was great and it was clear that she had the basics down; my job was simply building upon and extending the strategies and knowledge she already brought to the classroom. However this was not the case for some of our other RATA teachers who had to start from scratch with their untrained partner teachers. Safina had recently been on a school trip to the local safari park – however there had been no follow-up learning back in the classroom. This was an incredible thought for me to grasp as we had just completed a three day safari as a RATA team and the learning opportunities had been endless. So together Safina and I planned a writing unit in which the children would ultimately produce a published personal recount of their trip. Through modelling, team teaching and numerous chats Room 5 completed their piece of writing. The smiles on the faces of both the children and their teacher were incredible as they stood up in front of the class to share their writing.

As a team we focused on the importance of group work, positive management strategies and techniques to make learning fun. Watching teachers both trained and untrained learn how to play games was an impacting moment that will stay with me for life. I think I was the happiest I have ever been whilst I was watching 25 grown adults run around playing paper-scissors-rock. The screams of pure, competitive delight brought tears to my eyes. In fact I regularly had tears in my eyes during our time in Magugu.

I went over there with the naive thought that I would be teaching those teachers what they needed to know to be effective teachers. As a team we definitely taught – and I hope made a difference in both the teaching and nurturing styles of these teachers. However, it was I who came away both a changed teacher and woman. My heart is still in Tanzania and I can’t wait to go back. The RATA team became my family and I feel so incredibly blessed to have shared this amazing, life changing experience with them.

Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni dhaifu. – Unity is strength.

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