Saturday, September 24, 2011

So many projects!

Busy busy busy...

This year I was selected to represent Rotaract as the Director of Community Service for the Rotaract Club of Kwanza. This would be significantly easier if I was more accustomed to the way things work here in Tanzania. For example, nothing can be accomplished unless you are physically present to oversee something. Phone calls? Emails? No way. Hop on a bus and talk to someone in person before they believe you're legit. Needless to say, getting things done takes a lot more time and effort than I'm used to. It's nice that you get a much more personal experience with partners though.

There are a few major projects that I'll be responsible for this year. The first is my absolute favorite--the Mwenge Teaching Project. Every evening (mon-fri) I go to Mwenge to teach English to a group of mostly woodcarvers. Lately I've been working with the reading and writing group. Their ability to speak English is varied, but some cannot even recognize the letter A. Every day we've been going over a different letter, writing it over and over, and learning new words that start with each letter. By the end of class, each student makes a sentence with one of the new words they have learned. If anyone has suggestions on how to teach adult students to read and write, I'd love to hear them! Please!! They all love the class, but I'm not sure how to give them the best education possible. A few improvements for the class from Rotaract will be additional teachers, sustainable lighting (because the power is cut for rationing every other day), books, notebooks, chalk, and consultation from a University professor on how to improve our teaching methods. I'll be responsible for the budget and figuring out how to allocate some money that has been set aside. ugh. Budgets are the worst. But I love my students. They have become my best friends here.

The second program is to visit three orphanages around Dar es Salaam. Playing with the kids is fantastic, and they get so excited to have visitors. A large part of this program is also to raise funds for supplies. With every visit, we deliver boxes full of books, notebooks, pens, medical supplies, and biscuits, so there is a ton of prep work before we get to the fun stuff.

The biggest project I'll be working on with Rotaract this year has already started--the Blood Donation Project. We are hoping for a huge turnout. Statistics show that though the need for blood in hospitals is extremely high, only about 24% of the needed amount is donated. This leaves people in a fight for blood when they are sick or injured. From what I've heard, the system for receiving blood is not need-based, but entirely dependent on bribing the authorities. Since 2007, the Rotaract Clubs of Dar es Salaam have been trying to even the playing field by hosting the largest Blood Drive in Tanzania. This year, it will be bigger and better than ever! We are expanding to five locations throughout the city for a three day program filled with blood, blood, and more blood. It just so happens that this event kicks off on the greatest day of the year (if you remember from my last post). That's right, my birthday! So instead of presents this year, I'm asking all my friends for their blood! Nothing weird about that statement.

This project is going to be HUGE! We have already started approaching the biggest companies in Tanzania for sponsorships because our budget is about $18,000. My biggest concern is that people in Tanzania are extremely hesitant to give blood. It's not something that is taught as a positive experience, so they are all afraid, don't understand, or think it is going to be sold to the wrong people and not given to those in need. So we are luring them in with a free tshirt, water, soda, and biscuits. I hope this works!

To put your mind at ease about the corruption, I can assure you that all the blood collected by Rotaract is going to the right place. It will be donated specifically to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute's Children's Cancer Ward. We know a doctor who is going to manage the distribution personally.

I'm really excited for all these projects. You're probably all thinking "Whatever, Christina, you get excited about everything..." But this time is different. I know there will be a ton of frustrations, small failures, and struggles along the way, but I think ultimately they will all be meaningful in the community. I'm glad to be a part of them. But mostly nervous, because it's all up to me. Director of Community Service?? So much pressure!

1 comment:

  1. Give me your blood! Haha,love you Christina! I know all of your endeavors will be a great success because you are running them <3