Debbi volunteered as a teacher at Mt Sinon School in Tanzania during 2007. Below is her reflection after spending 12 months in Tanzania. Please seek permission if you would like to reproduce the article.
” Greetings to the Network from Tanzania! As I reflect on my 11 months at Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School, 6 kms from Arusha, my overall impression is one of a sense of community – among the Brothers, the staff and students, the villagers and fellow volunteers. I am here under the Aust & NZ Edmund Rice Volunteer Scheme. It has been wonderful to catch up with an old friend from St Thomas’ in Christchurch, Br Bill Dowling, who is the leader of the Brothers’ community here at Edmund Rice. When not in the classroom teaching Geography, Bill can be found in the workshop. He can turn his hand to many things but fixing bikes, mending anything from trunks to shoes to books and keeping all the hedges neatly trimmed would top the list! He greets every student by name although he says he is still learning the new Form 1’s!
Edmund Rice Sinon is co-ed with approximately 1200 students catering for both O and A Level. The A Level campus is just two years old having just celebrated its first Form 6 graduation recently. At the beginning of the year Br Clem Barrett (Aust) took over from Br Frank O’Shea (Aust) who had retired as headmaster after a huge contribution to the education of young people over 13 years. My specific task has been in the new Maktaba (library) training the two local librarians, cataloguing, establishing systems and introducing eager students to the world of books, many for the first time. It is a task I am really enjoying despite daily inconveniences and frustrations which pale into insignificance compared to the difficulties experienced by many of the local people around me. The students easily endear themselves to you, they are eager to learn and aim to achieve at the highest level. When school opened on the 8th July after a month long holiday, two further staff joined our team so my final weeks will be busy training and slowly stepping back as I prepare to leave.
I have been fortunate to have had visits from my husband and two of my children while here. There have been opportunities to travel to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. I have experienced the wonderful hospitality of the Brothers at South C and Um-bulbul communities in Nairobi. I visited their ministries with fellow volunteers before Christmas and will hold memories of that experience and of my time here in Sinon in my heart forever. I thank my family and my employer in Christchurch for encouraging and allowing me a year away to fulfil a dream to volunteer in Africa, a dream I had while working in South Africa in the 70’s! I am pleased that dream finally led me to Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School“
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