Letter from Head of 6th Form - Grey Court School
Having had time to reflect on our school’s experiences working with you in Tanzania, to go on holiday myself and to process the latest cohort of A-level results, I would like to take the time to thank you for the inspirational help and support you provided whilst we were in Tanzania.
Having had some experience of organising international expeditions for sixth form students and of working with many charity providers over the years, I feel privileged to have partnered your charity for many reasons.
Firstly, I liked very much the “micro” nature of your organisation. By focusing on one district in Tanzania (albeit one that felt like the size of a small country!) it was possible to see at first hand the direct impact the work and donations of our students was having. This was in evidenced physically by having a hand in building the kitchen, re-decorating the classrooms and constructing the market garden, but it was most obviously apparent through the testimony of the Tanzanian students, teachers and village elders who we met and who felt empowered by the LTT’s ethos.
This was further enhanced through our interactions with your staff particularly Yohana, Sophie and Robson as well as your frequent visits to see our students. The warmth and wisdom exhibited by your team, as well as the invites we received to visit your offices (I like the fact that your African bungalow served as an office, house, meeting point and model market garden!) eat with Yohana’s mother or participate in the future problem solving session chaired by your good self. This meant that our party felt valued and intimately involved with your organisation and that you valued our participation in your social enterprise.
I was also greatly impressed by the collective and mutually responsible ethos that underpins the work of the LTT. The fact that Tanzanian community organisations have to exhibit a social and fiscal contribution to the projects you undertake and are –to some extent – held accountable for the legacy your works provide, gives the work you do a healthy chance of having an impact over generations rather than just in the short term. Everything felt very well thought our and strategic which I feel is a legacy of the fifteen year commitment you have demonstrated to that part of Tanzania. In short, LTT feels “rooted” within the community you serve.
I think it is also important to recognise your own contribution as the figurehead of the organisation. I was greatly impressed with the fact that you did not pressurise us to partner your charity, that you made yourself available to come in and advise our school and communicated with the students, advised them and listened to their point of view. It is obvious that you are well respected with the Tanzanian community and – I have to say – exhibited some great dancing moves in the community events we attended together! It is obvious that you are very learned about international development, committed to Tanzania and are willing to adapt and change your policies in consultation with the communities you serve.
It is very important that when sixth form students engage in expeditions of this nature that they come away inspired and enriched as a result of their experiences. Equally, I was very mindful that they should not “patronise” the communities they visit. The model you have where students are embedded in the community, and work alongside local craftspeople, managers, teachers, students and artisans allows for a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship to evolve. I am in no doubt that a number of our students will either revisit Tanzania, come back on our next expedition as leaders, or seek to work with the LTT in the future. This is obviously a direct consequence of the enriching experiences they have had working with you.
As a final point, I would like the highlight the working relationship you have with “inspire” as one that, again, I was impressed with. As an organisation they provided wonderful leaders and logistically organised a safe and thoroughly risk-assessed trip. I have written them a separate letter that I will cc: you into.
For the future, I hope that we can work together to run another expedition in July 2019. I will contact you in the Autumn term about publicising and recruiting for this trip. I am also in the middle of editing together a short film of our experiences and we may have a “Tanzania celebration evening” in September – if I can organise it in time!
Keep up the good work!
Here’s my own personal top 10 highlights/recollections of a wonderful trip.
1. Flying past Mount Kilimanjaro at 5am in the morning as we prepared to descend across baked red plains into Kili airport. Hemingwayespque!
2. Being greeted by 300 children singing the Tanzanian national anthem as we arrived at our project site. Cynicism – melting!
3. Showering under a bucket of cold water every evening, looking out across the smallfarms that dot the rift valley as the day’s heat starts to dissipate and chaffinches patter across the corrugated iron roof. Poetic prose!
4. Playing an international football match in front of a crowd of a hundred villagers, as a red dust tornado threatened to stop play!
5. Reading Karen Blixen’s “Out of Africa” as 13 phoneless teenagers, laze under Jacaranda trees reading novels and completing crossword puzzles, on their one afternoon off.
6. Eating freshly baked maandazi (donuts) for morning tea with the village bricklayers, builders and plasterers; and students covered in sweat, dust and plaster!
7. Watching Mr Higham try to evict a local rooster from her living quarters!
8. Being given a chief’sMasai blanket as thirteen students dance frenetically amongst a throng of happy locals during our leaving ceremony to Tanzanian beats.
9. Watching Tanzanian school kids and Grey Court Sixth formers fight back the tears as they say their goodbyes.
10. Admiring the newly built school kitchen funded by the Grey Court community, and constructed collaboratively by our students and local people. The kitchen will provide 300 students with their one meal a day which means locals will be committed to sending their children to school.
So all in all a truly life-affirming and fun time! I can’t wait until 2019.
Assistant head teacher – Grey Court School