MEALI PRIMARY SCHOOL
Many students walk 1-2 hours over rough terrain, sometimes even encountering elephants, to arrive at school by 8 each morning, and again to return home in the late afternoon
The Meali Primary School, our namesake, is located on a coffee plantation in Tanzania’s rural Karatu district between the country’s third largest city, Arusha, and the popular tourist safari destination, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to millions of exotic animals. The families of the Meali community live in extreme poverty, with parents earning about $1 a day as plantation workers. Culturally, about 60% of this population is from the Iraqw tribe, and many of these families speak the Iraqw language at home. The language of all Tanzania’s public primary schools – including Meali – is KiSwahili, a new language for many entering kindergarten.
Meali is co-educational, like all of Tanzania’s public schools, with an enrollment of 350 boys and girls in Standards (grades) K-VII. The school has 10 teachers, up from 6 in 2012 as a result of our providing housing at the school.
Life for Meali’s children is difficult. Many students walk 1-2 hours over rough terrain, sometimes even encountering elephants, to arrive at school by 8 each morning, and again to return home in the late afternoon. After school, they have chores to complete, including hauling firewood and heavy buckets of water to their homes. Paper and pencils are a luxury. Some families cannot afford the required school uniforms. Food is scarce; corn meal is the dietary staple. The lack of paved roads makes this population much more isolated than rural areas in developed countries.
Despite their many hardships, these children have the same aspirations as other children. They want to be teachers, doctors, policemen, computer experts, etc.
By removing some of the obstacles and improving their educational environment, Friends of Meali International has already seen a significant increase in the proportion of students qualify for secondary school! We are continuing to support these deserving young people with advanced English preparation and scholarship assistance for secondary school, and boarding school sponsorships for a few exceptional performers. And we are enhancing our partnership with Meali’s parents to help ensure continuation of the school lunch program, campus security, various maintenance items, pay for extra teachers, and special programs to inspire learning, stimulate academic curiosity, and broaden these children’s horizons.