Life at SEKUCo

May 9th

At SEKUCO we attended an orientation on Kishambala and Shambala led by Reverend Walalaze. Kishambala is the language used by the Shambala people, who live in the Usambara Mountains. We learned that SEKUCo is situated in the West Usambara at 1,650 meters. The history of this region involves a period of colonialism, in which the Germans strived to displace the indigenous Shambala people, in order to possess the mountains for themselves. During this time period, the Germans carved roads into the mountains, which are still used today by the Shambala.

During the orientation we also learned about the lifestyle of the Shambala. They have knowledge of pottery making. Many Shambala names begin with prefix SHE-. Most use cooking fuel from trees and do not use electricity for cooking. Dress code is influenced by Muslim traditions. Men wear barghashia and kanzus. Women wear khangas and kitenges.

In the afternoon, we visited The Rainbow School for Students with Disablility. There we had an orientation in which we learned about the schools teaching methods and curriculum. The school is open to both boys and girls in Tanzania who have physical or learning disabilities. Kindergarten students from the children’s home also attend the school. Afterwards, we met the children on the playground where we participated in various activities with the children such as soccer, dancing, reading, drawing and singing.

After leaving The Rainbow School, we had the opportunity to visit the Irente Biodiversity Reserve. There we sat down to have a beautiful picnic lunch. The entire meal was composed of food completely grown and prepared on the reserve’s premises. Our hosts and the center’s directors, Peter and Susan, then took us on a tour of the reserve. The goal of the reserve is to preserve indigenous species of plants and animals, which are slowly diminishing throughout the Usambara Mountains due to alien/invasive species. On the tour, we also visited the reserve’s farm where the students and Mama Mpesha happily fed cows. Additionally, we gained a great deal of knowledge concerning the indigenous tree species of Tanzania and the benefits of ecotourism.

May 10th

We began the day with Kiswahili lessons with Irene Muthemba and Esther. We learned many greetings, family relationships, numbers, foods, days of the week and months of the year. In order to prepare us for interaction with our host families, we had four hours of lessons. After, Irene and Esther accompanied our group for site seeing in Lushoto. We visited the bank, the post office, The Bureau of Exchange, the market and the Tumaini restaurant.

May 11th

We had our orientation at the Irente School for the Blind. Mama Reuben, the school’s director, gave us a brief introduction of the school’s history and current practices. When the school first opened in 1963, it was exclusively for girls but today it is integrated with both boys and girls. In addition to following national curriculum, the students learn daily living skills, knitting, basket weaving, hand crafts, and sports. The school accepts students from all parts of Tanzania. Once completing primary school, those who meet the requirements are integrated into normal secondary schools. The school also enrolls Albino students. We met the students in the courtyard where they graced us with a welcoming song. In return, we prepared a small song to perform for them. We then took a tour of the school. In the afternoon, we returned to SEKUCo where we had tea time with our host families. This was a brief introduction of the families we would be living with for the next two weeks.

-Emily and Nicole

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