When the OA staff first visited the Marilynn Primary and Nursery School, located 20km outside of Dar Es Salaam in the city of Majohe, Tanzania, our Tanzanian field partner had completed only half of the school before running out of funds.
The empty dormitories didn’t have a floor or a roof. One classroom had no floor. Students were crammed three to a desk. All 120 students and staff shared one toilet at the headmaster’s house because the lavatories remained unfinished. Water had to be brought in by hand-cart because they had no well. There was very little writing paper to go around, only a few chewed-on stubs of pencils, and some chalk. The teachers shared one set of dog-eared textbooks for the entire school. Their soccer ball was composed of many plastic bags laced together. Many of the students did not have uniforms; for those that did, their uniforms showed signs of significant wear and tear, and often shoes were too big or too small.
Upon OA’s return, we undertook the project of completing the school. The Marilynn Primary and Nursery School at Majohe is now OA’s most advanced school, providing students with a top-quality education. In the last National Examination (November, 2012) the students at the Marilynn School scored first in their Ward (1,991 students), with one of its orphan students claiming Number One!
Since first adopting the project in 2007, OA has completed five classrooms, a kitchen and dining hall, lavatories, and three dormitories. The dormitories will house 72 orphans as soon as construction on three other classrooms are complete. In addition, OA has installed electricity, septic tanks, a water well and tower, and provided a 400-book library, school supplies, uniforms, shoes, computers, science equipment, as well as desks, chairs, and textbooks. Where students once dressed in rags and there was only one set of textbooks for the entire school, OA has fostered an environment where students can thrive. More than half of the students pay tuition, providing enough funds for the school to be self-sustaining with regards to day-to-day operations. OA continues to assist with development of the infrastructure. In the 2012 National Examinations, the Marilynn School scored first in their Ward, including boasting the top scoring student out of 1,991 students. In the fall of 2013, the first graduating class of the Marilynn Primary school graduated!!!
Bring in regular volunteers to teach the children English, music, math, science, history, art, games, and more.
Furnish the first dormitory with beds, dressers, chairs, student desks, and bedding. Wire the dormitory for electricity.
Purchase kitchen equipment, including cooking stoves, tables and chairs for dining hall, cutlery and tableware.
Build 4 additional classrooms to accommodate increased enrollment. (Currently the dorms are being used as classrooms. New classrooms will be a necessity as the dormitories start to teem with little orphans!)
Purchase 50 new desks and chairs.
Complete a computer laboratory. This room is built and has the computers but the floors need to be tiled and electricity needs to be installed.
We wish to expand our efforts to include additional classrooms, dormitories and toilet/shower facilities, a library, a headmaster’s cottage, solar energy, a water catchment/cistern system, and a sports field. We will continue to purchase desks and other furnishings, plus textbooks, school supplies and equipment.
It is our goal to position the Mwaji Secondary School as a leader in educational excellence, teaching students through traditional methods as well as through practical application, hands-on experience, and field study.
We endeavor to continue providing teacher training from qualified volunteer visitors.
Mwaji Secondary is poised to raise a generation of leaders who can help their country rise out of its crushing poverty.
All OA schools are operated according to a model of self-sustainability. Meaning, that once the school is fully constructed, operational, and registered with the government, it is capable of supporting itself. OA’s model combines tuition-paying students with fully-dependent orphan students. Tuition received from parents of non-orphan students cover the costs of teachers’ salaries, school operation, plus the room and board of the orphans. Also, by combining non-orphans with orphans, social stigmas and prejudices are reduced as opposed to being reinforced through orphan-only schools.