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The Ota Initiative Blog

A Group Leader's Perspective

Group leader Fahimu pictured with his group of students and the tree they planted together while studying the importance of protecting the environment.

For almost two years now I have been writing you all about our amazing team in Tanzania and the great work they do, so I thought it was time you had the opportunity to hear their thoughts on Ota. I asked one of our most senior group leaders, Fahimu, to send me a blog post about his thoughts on Ota and how it has benefited Karagwe. He responded with a four-page paper written in English, a second language he’s learned in school. Have no fear, the full text of his response is not just cut and pasted below, but I will use the next two newsletters to share his thoughts. First though, let me share a few facts about Fahimu.

Fahimu has been with Ota since the very first program, but even before that he was a dedicated friend of Amizade who welcomed study abroad groups and volunteers to Karagwe. Born and raised in Karagwe, Fahimu hopes to one day work for the government because he loves his hometown and wants to help improve the quality of life there. As a farmer and chicken tender who enjoys experimenting to find new best methods, Fahimu thinks he might enjoy being an agricultural extension agent. He currently is in his final year of high school studying History, Geography, and Language.

And now, let me share some of Fahimu’s words with you all:

The Ota Initiative is an education program that uses arts and sciences to teach primary pupils creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills. The Ota Initiative envisions a Karagwe of academically successful citizens who think critically and craft creative solution to their needs and those of their community. The Ota Initiative has worked toward its vision by conducting four programs. The Ota initiative has tried its level best to achieve its goals, which benefits the community of Karagwe, especially in academic matters.

The following points are existing benefits of The Ota Initiative program in Karagwe:

  • Starting with academic benefits, The Ota Initiative has educated children and group leaders on leadership and democracy by teaching about qualities of good leaders and insisting on the use of democracy in all aspects of life. Topics include election processes as well as the negative impacts of dictatorship. For example, Ota has given out the history of good leaders like Nelson Mandela and history of dictators such as Adolf Hitler in some of programs.

  • The Ota Initiative has been working on building self-confidence among children of Karagwe. During all programs, The Ota Initiative has tried to create self-confidence and self-determination as well as awareness. These will help the kids in their future life. All of these can help the kids to do and perform any thing in a very good way.

  • The Ota Initiative has nurtured creativity and shown children the power of their own ideas. This has been built by The Ota Initiative because in every program the teacher asks the students: What do they like to draw? What do they like to talk about? Who do they want to be like? Who are their role models? Also this has helped the children to be aware of their talents and make plans for their futures.

  • The Ota Initiative has kept pupils to stay in academic situation during their school breaks. This has helped the children to not waste time resting at home. Kids join The Ota Initiative and learn different matters while enjoying games, songs, and drama. They are also instructed on proper behavior such as personal hygiene, washing hands and fruits before eating without forgetting, and the importance of boiling and filtering drinking water through rhymes. Some rhymes are “Maji ya kunywa? Tunachemsha, tunachuja, tunakunywa!” (“Drinking water? We boil it, we strain it, we drink it!”) and “Tunda? Tunanawa mikono, tunaosha tunda, tunakula!” (“Fruit? We wash our hands, we wash our fruit, we eat!”)

  • The Ota Initiative has facilitated learning English language. For example, during the second program The Ota Initiative began teaching kids some meaningful English words according to what the students had learnt at the end of day. In the fourth program, The Ota Initiative conducted English training during the first week of the program. Students learned introductions in English, greetings, and human body parts. Also The Ota Initiative taught some English songs and provided stories in both Swahili and English.

I have written you all about many of these benefits myself, but I think it is always best to hear about impact from a local perspective. Fahimu has been an integral part of our team for all four programs now, and he will be returning for our fifth program this December. Next week’s blog will include his perspective on how he and our other group leaders have benefited from their work with Ota. Until then, we are still fundraising to meet our goal for running this December’s program. If you could, consider making a a $60 tax-deductible donation to Ota (form at bottom of linked page) to sponsor a student in our upcoming program. For this small amount, you can help provide a student with two weeks of quality arts, science, and English instruction, as well as school supplies for the year to come.

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