In March 2011 the Waterloo Foundation agreed to support and fund a new initiative to establish vegetable gardens and orchards at each of the Botswana and Tanzanian schools. These gardens were already underway in the Welsh schools and this initiative will enable all pupils to engage equally in a real curriculum project, comparing climate, produce, diet, health, horticulture etc. The produce will be used to supplement meals at school, improving nutrition of the most needy pupils. It is hoped that improved diet and health will lead to better attendance and improvements in learning for all pupils. Surplus produce will be sold to support the schools and sustain the gardens in the long term.
Within a few weeks the gardens were underway with land cleared by hand or tractor, fencing erected and irrigation installed.
Fruit trees have been planted and vegetable seed sown. By August the students at Mandaka Primary in Tanzania were sharing photos of their harvest from their immaculate gardens. By July 2012 Mandaka school was reporting an increase in the pass rate for entrance to secondary education from 38% to 90% and attributing this to the success of the horticulture project.
In Oct 2011 the Botswana Minister of Agriculture whilst attended the launching of the Kgafela school horticulture project, declared that this project would lead schools in the drive towards greater national food security.
By 2015, all schools continue to enjoy and benefit from the gardens established by the Waterloo Foundation. Water is always a challenge for the schools in Botswana and Tanzania but significant harvests have been made to supplement school meals and provide for pupils in need and their families.
In Jan 2015 a night fire gutted one of the dormitories at Muungano school. All furniture and the girls personal possessions were lost but fortunately no one was hurt. BOTAWA rallied and raised funds to help with the rebuild and refurbishment of the dormitory as well as providing emergency essentials for the girls immediate needs. Toilets have also been refurbished as part of our aim to improve conditions for the hostel girls so that they can achieve their potential.
Heronsbridge school has been keeping bees and harvesting honey for a while. The bee hives are housed in the school orchard. Honey is harvested in October each year along with the apples. We use the apples for cooking and to make juice
In 2015 Muungano school began a new enterprise project keeping bees for honey production. The project is run by the hostellers at the school and involves keeping stinging bees in commercial hives at the river and stingless bees in traditional log hives on the school grounds. The project was funded by the Waterloo Foundation and aims to secure a sustainable income for the hostel students at Muungano.
The hives were set up in September 2015 and in February the hostellers harvested their first crop of honey.
Several schools built keyhole gardens. They have a wall to contain the soil, with a compost holder in the centre. Composting materials are added to the centre. As they rot down, the nutrients leach into the soil making it extra fertile.
In October 2015 BOTAWA met with ANZA and Femme International www.femmeinternational.org to arrange access for the hostellers to an educational project which focuses in female empowerment for girls. Femme believes that by teaching feminine health education and essential hygiene, young women will be better able to attend school and work as well as participate in daily activities.
These workshops which included training for Muungano staff have now taken place and students were given either a reusable silicone menstrual cup or reusable sanitary pads. Unfortunately these resources have not had the impact on attendance and quality of life for the hostel girls as we had hoped. Femme will be revisiting Muungano in Nov 2017 to review the project and identify why there has been less uptake than we hoped. The reasons will no doubt be complex, including issues such as social acceptability, anxiety about new practices, the need to engage more fully with families. However we are confident that a way forward will be found, and we are looking forward to more positive news in 2018.
In 2014 Heronsbridge School was the runner up as International SEN School of the Year in the HSBC/British Council Link2Learn competition with a prize of £1500! This award along with funds raised at Trelales and Bryntirion school enabled BOTAWA to work with Robert Mafie of ACTT- affordable computers and technology for tanzania http://www.actt.co.tz to install a computer room at Muungano.
In 2017 Mandaka school succeeded in preparing a classroom for possible use of computers. This is a huge achievement at a school which probably faces more challenges than any other in the partnership. They have identified and cleared a classroom, put in security bars and at last managed to get connected to electricity – the only building so far in the school to have this. They will need to extend the sockets, put glass into the windows to reduce dust and secure furniture. We hope that at some point in the not too distant future they will be in a position to install computers for use by the school and community.
In 2015 Mandaka school used donations to rebuild toilets at the school. Lack of sanitation had become a major issue at school, affecting attendance. It was a community effort funded by BOTAWA and will be much appreciated by students.