Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ketumbeine Secondary School

The first time I visited Ketumbeine village, the secondary school was only a year old.  We drove in from Longido (find it on the map -- it is west of Arusha) and it was the rainy season.  We saw giraffes, ostriches and dikdiks.  We drove down the flooded road and it wasn't until much later that I realized the road was also the riverbed!  Fine in the dry; very deep and rushing in the wet!

The school had 300 kids who were sleeping 4 to a bunk bed -- 2 on top, 2 on the bottom.  There was no electricity, no running water, no place to eat their meals except outside and the cook was cooking on the little charcoal fires that everyone here uses.  There were few textbooks, and the students were doing much of the physical labor involved in building the school, as well as attending classes, and studying for exams.  Because Ketumbeine is just south of the equator, there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.  Without electricity or solar or a generator, or lanterns, the kids had no light at all after sunset.  Ever try studying by candelight?

When the students come to the school at the opening of the school year, each student brings the following:  his/her foam mattress for the bed, all his/her clothing, a bowl and eating utensils, cup, large pail for carrying water and washing clothes and self, and all toiletries, including toilet paper.  In addition, students need money for paper, pencils, and textbooks.  Students are required to wear uniforms.

The school now, in 2011, has been much improved.  There are a couple of new dormitories and 300 more kids (600 now!)  The school now covers Forms 1 - 4 (equivalent to grades 9 - 12).  For the 600 students at the school, there are 6 (that's right, SIX) teachers.  Each textbook is shared by 7 - 9 students.  There are some solar panels on the roofs of the dorms and classrooms -- each panel provides enough power to light 4 of the small cfl's.  So the students finally have a minimum of light after dark for studying.  Asante is planning to help provide some LED's which are much more efficient and provide so much more light.  The government has also helped with the solar system, but the government here in Tanzania has so many needs and so little money that their philosophy is to try and spread the money around as fairly as possible -- a little for everyone rather than a lot for a few.  My church, Our Redeemer Lutheran  Church has been helping to support this solar lighting project through Asante Network.  It was so exciting for me to be able to share the new LED lights with the headmaster.  They are a kind that has to be hardwired in and from high on the ceiling, they will provide much needed light in the classrooms.  So even though the solar panels are very small, each panel can power dozens of the new LED lamps.  I am waiting as patiently as I can for the report from the headmaster as to whether they like the new lamps.  If they do, Asante Network has 11 more to send!  YAY!

Faustin and Russell will remember that it seemed as if all I talked about after my first visit to Ketumbeine was the secondary school!  And here I am 4 years later, still talking about it.  So -- more progress:  there is a cafeteria and "kitchen" under construction.  A girl's dorm is also under construction.  A library is planned.

But . . . more textbooks are sorely needed; TS500,000 purchases 40 books ($333).  A new pit latrine is needed as well; the toilets in the dorms are water based, which doesn't work, since there isn't really enough water.  A 10 hole pit latrine can be built for $7,000 based on approved blueprints from the government.  So there is still lots of work.  I am delighted at the progress that has been made at Ketumbeine Secondary School, and sometimes get discouraged when I realize how much more needs to be done.  But that is Tanzania in a nutshell.

One of these days, when I get caught up on my blogs, I will (as my kids say) get on my soapbox and share my views on why Africa is poor . . . based on an amazing speaker I heard at an Alaska World Affairs Council luncheon last year.

Next post will be a description of the camel project and our adventure as we took a "short cut" to the main road from the village!


  1. We just chose to sponsor a child thru World Vision in Ketubeine. It is good to find more information on what is going on there. We hope that the child we sponsor will be healthy and be educated and maybe one day will successfully graduate from this school.

  2. I am a pioneer students and I have already graduated my bachelor of education