Erica Preusse ‘99: Reaching out to Africa Part 2

Erica Preusse '99, photo 4In Tanzania, we spent most our time working in the daycare center/preschool run by St. Lucia Orphanage. The children who attend are all HIV positive; many have lost their parents as well. But St. Lucia only has room for so many children at the orphanage, so the daycare is the next best thing. The children are learning the alphabet and basic math and they get at least one hot meal a day. Some will go on to government schools if they do well (and can find the funding).

The kids are amazingly smart and sweet. I noticed that kids in Africa aren’t much different than kids back home:  They want your attention at all times. They love to learn, climb trees and sing songs.  One day I was helping Maria write her numbers while singing, “You are my Sunshine” with Tausi & Gertruda and playing matchbox cars with Godlove all at the same time.

Erica Preusse '99, photo 5A little girl lost her first tooth one day while rough housing in the play yard. It is just as much a rite of passage in Tanzania; though I don’t think a toothfairy visited her that night. She proudly showed off her tooth and the hole it left in her mouth to all the “Teachers” (after 2 days of working with the kids, I was in the “teacher” category too!)

Over the next couple weeks, we worked on more preschool education with the kids at the daycare and projects at the orphanage. We stayed in volunteer rooms above the daycare center and most mornings, I awoke to the sound of the children singing the Tanzanian National Anthem. Such a sweet way to start the day.
Erica Preusse '99, photo 7
My task at the daycare was to introduce the concept of subtraction. They call it ‘Take Away”, which makes perfect sense to me, but try explaining that in English to 6 kids under the age of 8 who know mostly Swahili. I’m thankful for the minimal school supplies they do have – tiny pieces of chalk and some Lego-like blocks we used for counting. I helped teach a little boy, Godlove to learn to write his name.  He knew no English at all when we first arrived. When we left, he was counting to 10, writing 1-5 and his name – if I wrote it for him first.

One afternoon at the orphanage, the Teacher had some interesting chores in mind for me. We headed straight up to the chicken coop. There it was decided the new hatchery built by other volunteers needed to be relocated. The rains had started, and unfortunately, too much water was getting in through the cracks in the floor. So, based on my wide array of chicken coop construction experience, I made some suggestions on where to relocate the big concrete blocks they’re using as “walls” for the baby chicks. After about an hour, Teacher and Immanuel (one of the men who works on the land & with the animals) had a newly located chicken coop with clean water (I helped with the water!).
Erica Preusse '99, photo 6
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