MUGETA CHILDREN’S SCHOOL (MUCS)
An Educational Centre for helping poor children get access to Nursery and Primary School
Along the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania lies the Mugeta Ward. The population of Mugeta is about 30,000 people, and many of the inhabitants are living far below the poverty line, that is below a dollar per day. Except in Mugeta centre, villagers live in thatched mud houses with no electricity or safe water. Many children cannot attend school because their families struggle with conditions of poverty and low levels of literacy.
Except for a few educated villagers who have an idea about family planning, the majority have extended families where most children don’t attend school.
Pandemic diseases such as HIV and Malaria plus poor health facilities have caused high mortality rate leaving orphans who are mainly taken care of by their relative or grandparents.
THE MUGETA CHILDREN’S SCHOOL: AN INITIATIVE OF A UBC GRADUATE STUDENT FROM TANZANIA
The Founder: Joash Gambarage
As I was growing up as a little boy in Mugeta village, many children, including myself, lived in impoverished households. Many children of my age dropped-off from school because their parents/caregivers could not afford things like textbooks, pencils, school uniforms or soap for washing school uniforms. The majority stopped attending school because they had to work to survive. Comparing my family with the rest in my village, I would say I was lucky because my daddy was an elementary school teacher; he had a little salary that the family depended on. Still, my family lived on less than a dollar per day. I can only imagine now that the first time when I put on shoes was on my grade 7 graduation – the shoes that I borrowed for a couple of hours from some boy from a well-off family! I remember how I used to travel up to 10 hours on foot with a bag and a sack of corn flour on my head to a high school located in another district. I had no bus fair. In my childhood, I never slept in bed or a mattress; I used to sleep on a bumpy hide.
However, as once said, challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. Today, as I share this story, I stand as a champion of education and a role model for many boys and girls in Mugeta. This shouldn’t sound as anything like a brag; trust me, in the entire Mugeta population of about 20,000 people, I stand as the first person from a low income family to pursue graduate studies.
I was lucky to have parents who had an income and who were ready to foregone so much in order to pay for my high school and university education. I fail to count how many sacrifices my family paid because of my education. I find the words of the late J.K Nyerere – the founder of Tanzania describing my situation succinctly as he talks about someone who had a privilege of receiving education: `[You] are like the man who has been given all the food available in a starving village in order that he might have strength to bring supplies back from a distant place’.
These experiences have had a deep impact on me. Throughout my time at high school and university in Tanzania and here at UBC, these memories have inspired me to take a step in supporting children’s education particularly disadvantaged children starting from my home village – Mugeta.The Mugeta school project is not only a way of giving back to my community but also a way to cerebrate that indeed education is a ‘powerful weapon that can change the world’.
As you read more about the the Mugeta School Project, I hope you would join me in the endless effort of supporting, educating, empowering boys and girls by giving them access to quality nursery and primary school education. As a lecturer, I have always believed that the solution to poverty and abject poverty is education; and a successful high school and university education is founded in proper nursery and elementary education.
Please read about our project.