Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finding Support in the Community

One of our goals as a team is to make sure that we can have the support of the school parents, our neighbors and our community.  Because we are very low in funds, we are hoping to find resources in the form of knowledge, materials and care taking help from the good people of Arusha.

One of the first people we met with was Cecilia.  She is a wonderful and knowledgeable resource for us.  Cecilia has a degree in agriculture that she is using to turn her property into a nursery for exotic plants and ponds.  She is hoping to cater to the landscaping needs of the many hotels, businesses and resorts that being built around Arusha.

Cecilia harvesting eggs from her chickens
Cecilia raises chickens, rabbits and tilapia as well as exotic fish and plants. She has been a great help and we plan to send our teachers to her farm to learn about horticulture and farming techniques.

As soon as we began breaking the grounds at MDFT, people started to come around and as questions.  Soon some of the elders came around to give us their wisdom and show us how things were done traditionally. We soon found that some on lookers knew people, who knew people, who knew other people who could help us with the stuff we did not know.  Wow this is awesome!!
The local elders give us advice on how to set up our fish pond

David studying a sketched idea on the ground

A local expert helping us design a better fish pond

David considering the local experts ideas

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting the Teachers on Board

Head Teacher Jackie (3 year teaching experience)

Like in any school, having the teacher's support is the most important step of any plan for change.  So, today we sat down with the MDFT teachers to introduce the ideas of using the Flood Garden as the center of the school curriculum.  We spent the day making lists of things we needed, and drawing maps of our new Flood Garden project.
Left to right (a friend of the teachers),  David Gido (in blue plad), Teacher Loveless (pink vest), Head Teacher Jackie (in Red), MDFT Parent helper (in back), Teacher Nixon (in black jacket), Vanessa (5 year old MDFT student) on the day we broke ground

Our new academic Flood Garden team is Head Master and Flood Garden Director David Gido, Head Teacher Jackie, brand new teachers Loveless and Nixon.  We will also be counting on parents, students and community members for their help.

The MDFT teachers, although young, are very enthusiastic about participating in the Flood Garden learning model.  They are excited that they do not have to teach in stuffy overcrowded classrooms and even happier that school does not have to be as boring as they remember it.   The team immediately began to design the grounds today. The idea of making a Maasai style house as our outdoor kitchen came from them.  They are interested in teaching history to the students by showing them traditional Maasai building techniques.

MDFT Teachers working breaking the ground of the Flood Garden
(left to right) Head Master David and  Teacher Nixon getting design suggestions from our clients and the real experts...The Students!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


David Gido (MDFT Head Master) and Student during clean up
Today we began cleaning up the front yard in order to begin getting the soil ready for farming.  How did we not realize that there were so many opportunities under all this rubbish? Well, we will see what treasures and adventures we can create for our students.

Our goals for this month:

  • Clean up the yard and turn the soil
  • Make the plans for our Flood Garden
  • Get the teachers on board with the idea of making the Flood Garden the center of the school curriculum
  • Begin to find community support
  • Convince our landlord that this is a good idea...hahaha!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

In the Beginning

The MDFT front yard before the brain storm

At Making a Difference Foundation Primary School (MDFT), we have one objective:  To create an education model that can make a profound and lasting impact in our students's lives in order to transform their future.  We have lofty goals of educating Tanzanian's next scientist, business entrepreneurs, social developers and decision makers.

Our immediate problems are as as follows:

1. Our source of income depends on what a few parents can pay as school fees, charities and luck!
2. Many parents cannot afford our school fees but we cannot turn away students in need
3. Our classrooms are very crowded and we desperately need to expand
4. We lack traditional school essentials like textbooks, notebooks, pencils, labs and resources, etc
5. We do not have a way to ensure that our students are getting nutritious brain food and all we can provide for them is a cup of watered down porridge every day.
6. We so not have a way of impacting our community to create community support
7. We lack professional development opportunities for our teachers and staff

So one day we began to brain storm to see how we could resolve our problems.  Since part of our aim is to teach our students how to find resources and work to become self-sufficient, we as a school had to learn how to practice what we intend to preach.

We decided to create a school farm in our unused front yard as the simple answer to many our problems.  The school farm would help us diversify our income, start a parent cooperative where they could exchange sweat equity for school fees, create outdoor classrooms to lessen overcrowding within the traditional 4 walls, replace the immediate need for traditional books, labs and other conventional resources (the farm is the best textbook!!), introduce a better diet for our school meals program, create Kitchen Garden models to spread to our community the idea of growing one's own food in a crowded, low income urban setting, and among many, many other things, create a place were our teachers could learn and innovate their lessons and skills every day!

We decided to call our little farm the FLOOD GARDEN because we intend to flood our community with children who are skilled and able to take up the current economic slack and help fix the immediate issues in their own communities.   We also want to FLOOD the community with innovative ways to improve their diet, income and budgets from the ideas of our little urban farm.

Our over-crowded classrooms