Heshima means Respect in Swahili and this underlies all that we do.
Where is Heshima located?
Heshima is located in Kisongo, a rural village about 16km outside Arusha, in Northern Tanzania. This village largely serves the Maasai Community. Sadly, Maasai people often face discrimination and prejudice and find it difficult to get good jobs. At Heshima, we hope to support these people by offering their children a good start to life and school and offering their mothers training and skills to enable them to make an income and become more independent.
We now have a preschool class in its own classroom. There are about 15 children from 3 to 6, some of whose mothers are involved in the textile training project. The children are able to engage in creative play. They sing songs, play games, listen to a story and have a go at Art and Crafts All the activities are done in English. This is important as if they don’t have a basic understanding of English, theysoon get left behind at school and have no chance of being accepted into a secondary school. We are building up the outside play equipment and currently have a sandpit and small climbing frame.
Class sizes in local schools are big. Many teachers try to teach classes of 70 or more. Children have to share desks and chairs and there are few resources. We can offer children more individual help on a Saturday. We can listen to their reading; help them with their Maths and spend some time developing a sport such as basketball or swimming. This supplements what they get in school and they are able to ask for help with topics they do not understand. Saturday school is making a difference and has helped many students to improve their confidence and therefore their achievement in school.
Heshima continues to promote school partnerships. We know that links between schools from different countries benefits everyone involved. We set up and facilitate shared projects between schools and help to arrange school visits. Part of these often involve summer school activites such as Drama, Music and Art, subjects not normally taught in schools.
To make a lasting difference to the families that live around Heshima, we have started up a textile training centre. A range of unemployed women come in the morning to learn a skill. We now have a trainer, who has already completed training through Heshima. The training also involves some English classes, which will help them run their own successful businesses once they have finished the traiining. In the afternoons, some of the women who have now finished their training with us are employed to make different textile products, which are sold to help keep Heshima sustainable.
It’s nice to dream! So this is what we picture in the future:
- To complete the purpose built training centre that we have started building.
- Develop our children’s playground.
- Start a library for the children in the area.
- Start vocational training for the unemployed men in the area.