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The Ota Initiative Blog

Celebrating Christmas in Karagwe

Ota’s stocking was hung by the chimney with care, and guests of Christmas in Karagwe stuffed it full with $587 in donations!

First, I would like to start things off by thanking everyone who helped make our first fundraiser event a great success! As I mentioned in our last post, I hosted a party for Ota on Saturday, Dec. 12 in D.C. with the help of some friends. The event, titled Christmas in Karagwe, was a Tanzanian holiday party that doubled as a fundraiser for Ota. In total, we raised $587 from the 45 people who attended. This was almost twice our goal for the night and will allow us to run this winter’s program at full capacity!

The evening began with a potluck dinner centered around traditional Tanzanian dishes we had cooked up that afternoon: rice, chicken and vegetable stews, beans, cabbage salad, and ugali, a doughy starch made from corn flour. The Tanzanian fare was such a crowd pleaser that our wonderful chefs had to whip up a few extra batches of food during the party. As people ate and socialized, they were able to browse through and bid on a variety of Tanzanian goods during a silent auction. Bidding became quite competitive with the two highest selling items of the night being a Zanzibar soccer jersey and a beautiful carved wooden box. Even after the silent auction ended, people stayed late into the night enjoying good food and company in the name of a good cause. Thank you to everyone who helped organize the party, attended, donated, and made the night – and our program – a success!

The Sunday after, I called our head teacher Pontian to let him know we now had enough money to purchase the supplies needed for all of our planned projects. And it was none too soon as the next day, last Monday, the Ota classroom opened its doors for our students to return for our fifth program. The first day was a great success, especially as Pontian reported that the new testing rubric we designed this past fall helped garner more detailed results during our pre-program test of students. While we have always tracked our students’ learning over the course of the program, we have now solidified our grading rubric to ensure greater consistency in scoring. We hope this will help us to better track which areas of the program are most difficult for our students to grasp and could perhaps be improved.

After the first day of class was used for reintroducing students to Ota and reviewing the subjects studied in June, students began engaging with this program’s curriculum focused on water the rest of the week. Through nature walks, plays, and stories, students explored the sources and importance of water. During the English portion of the program, students reviewed introductions from last program and then learned about describing colors and expressing preferences.

In short, our program is off to a terrific start, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped make it happen! Many of you have donated time, resources, and money to make this happen, and I hope you know you are appreciated. Stay tuned for more updates on the program and to see how all of your support is benefiting the children of Karagwe.

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