Gongali Village School

Gongali Village School
children at the Gongali Village School, built by Primary Schools for Africa in Nov/Dec 2010

Wednesday, 30 April 2014



Hi All

Greetings from Africa (Tanzania)

Gongali School Site. 
all roof trusses in place
In the past two weeks since arriving, the work has steadily progressed, thanks to the consistent and good quality workmanship of Mathew’s crew imported from Arusha. The walls are plastered, and the roof framing is almost finished. I don’t know where he found these guys, but they are a godsend to the project. Not that the previous locals were faulty; it’s just that Mathew decided on raising the bar of construction quality. The general contractor is still our competent Fabian Ammas, but this project will set the standard for him for future projects.

The crew of eleven has a base of three skilled tradesmen; Abrahaman the concreter, Hassan the carpenter, and Anthony the painter. They are devoted to this project. At no extra cost, all of them are camping out on site away from the comforts of their own homes and families. They sleep on sacks of grain in the storage room of the Kitchen/Dining Hall building; bargaining for food from the locals, minimally washing themselves and their clothing, basically living as the epitome of simplicity. Despite their hardships (according to our standards), they are congenial and cooperative, readily correcting occasional deficiencies Mathew and I have noted.

Whaddya mean I cut it too short!!
I spent my usual time helping with the roof framing as it’s the only thing I could do with any degree of expertise. I didn’t bring any new tools (saws, hammers) this time due to my already overloaded baggage, and as a result, experienced the hardship of their dull saws and crude hammers. Next time for sure, I will bring some. We worked well together, alleviating the discomfort of the sun’s heat with an occasional sprinkling of humorous banter. To have me working alongside them is a welcome break from their routine, these Tanzanians always being amazed at the rooftop agility of a “mzungu babu mkubwa”.

Life in Karatu
My daily routine in Karatu is set; a comfortable room at the Lutheran Hostel Hotel not far from the town, reasonable quality meals, hot showers... It’s slow and intermittent, but I’ve got internet and electricity for my computer work.

My early morning hour-long bike rides to Bashay Town and back help with the stresses of life here. The first stretch of road on the smooth wide-shouldered highway out of Karatu is down a long hill, where I fly at up to 60 km/hr for two kilometers, escaping the dust and noise of Karatu Town, into the panoramic foothills on the doorstep to the national parks of Ngorongo and Serengeti.

I pass many locals walking long distances to town to work, and they never hesitate to greet with wonderful smiles. The kids and toddlers playing in front yards close to the highway excitedly shout out to me. They must marvel at the unusual sight of a white person madly pedaling just for the sake of exercising. They only regard their bicycles as a workhorse for transporting firewood, building materials and heavy bags of grain.

I slowly passed one elderly “babu”, walking, straining to push his bike up a long hill and was taken a little aback by the contents of his handlebar basket; a severed head of an ox. I later queried Mathew who explained that it is boiled and cooked to make some kind of health potion.

on the way back home with the week's water supply
I marvel too at some amazing sights; the top of my list is how cattle used to haul drums of farmers’ domestic water from distant water points in villages are slapped on their butts and sent home unaccompanied while, I guess, their owner stays around the water point to take advantage of some needed social time with neighbours.

the Gongali High School site - our next possible project

The Next School Project
I’m now working on the feasibility of the next school project and the Gongali High School looks like a promising one. Peter Hayshi, the village mayor, has already assigned a building committee, and we are having meetings at the site to test my conceptual layout. More to come…

local kids from the Gongali Primary School
Gongali Electricity Project
I finished the pricing from the local Utilities company and electrical contractor and am awaiting final approval of a funding source. More to come on this too...

End of Update.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014



Hi All

Greetings from Africa (Tanzania)

Concrete brick Walls complete
I arrived at the Gongali school site to see wonderful construction progress, despite building during the rainy season. The concrete floor slab, concrete brick walls and concrete lintel frame are complete, and trusses are ready to be installed. Head teacher Mark Mollel and his teacher wife Sarah are so excited to see the final classrooms under construction, and just in time too. The Standard 4 class graduates this year and will need the new building by January 2015.

Mark informed of 2 new teachers for the school for the start of next year, making a total of 6 teachers working here. After being greeted with singing by one of his classes, I passed on the funds to Mark, $376.00, provided by our “junior fundraising partner” in Canada, Vicky Wang and her Accessible Education Association in Vancouver, to buy course books. There’ll be a photo later. 

Concrete brick Walls complete
Mark was happy to hear that the kids of our other Canadian partner, Glenwood Elementary in Maple Ridge, BC, were very excited to receive the 5-line artwork from the Tanzanian children, and will be auctioning off the artwork as a fundraiser.He also agreed to provide another round of pen-pal letters from the pupils here for me to take back to their Canadian counterparts.

Regarding our next school project to be funded by a major Canadian donor, Mathew and I continue to discuss the location for it. There are 3 possibilities; a primary school for the village of Mae near Moshi, one for the village of Qameyu, south of Umbulu, and the desperately needed new high school for the Gongali village area.  Hopefully, in the next few weeks before I leave we will have completed our research and visits/discussions with the local officials and will be closer to making a decision.

Of the 4 schools we are building, there is no question that this Gongali school is our sentimental favourite. These final classrooms will be built, the Kitchen/Dining Hall is in use, the teacher residences are filled up, their gardens are producing pumpkin, potatoes and peas while good rains are allowing crops of maize and sunflower to flourish. Sarah proudly rhymed off a list of trees being planted all around the site; papaya, lemon, guagava, acacia, ficus benjamina, and gravellea.

On a sad note, the World Food Program (WFP) has terminated the supply of food, so now the school has to wait until crops are harvested to resume their daily meal program.

 BUT ON A GREAT NOTE, thanks to the generosity of a potential donor, we may NOW be able to provide electricity to the site. Mathew and I have been working for the past month or so to get prices from Tanesco, (Tanzania Electrical Supply Company) to provide a transformer and power line connection to a nearby power line only 50 meters away from the site, and from a local electrician to wire all the buildings for lighting and outlets…very exciting for the school and staff that are literally living in the dark. 

They will be able to have computer classes, use the classrooms at night, and of course have a totally improved lifestyle inside the home; lights for doing homework, phone charging, lights, radio, TV even. To say they are extremely excited would be an understatement. More to come on this.

Mark and Sarah's outdoor kitchen
Chickens to market;
 the top 2 get to ride on top of the basket

Sarah's garden and crops

From L; Sarah, Karen, Alan, Mark, Benedict

End of Update.

Monday, 7 April 2014


Hi Everyone

Tomorrow I leave for Tanzania after a successful 3 month fundraising to complete the construction of this important phase of the Gongali village School project. We've managed to raise 96% of the needed funds. So it's enough to almost complete the project, with the remaining funds to come at a later date.

This is such an important project as it completes all 7 classrooms in the  Gongali Village School. The villagers and the teachers and students are very excited.

Thank you so much to all who have responded to our recent pleas for help on this project.

Also, a special thanks to Vicky Wang and her new charity, Accessible Education Association. This is a group of Grade 10 high school students in Vancouver whose main focus is to provide textbooks for Third World schools. Check out their website. http://www.aeassociation.org/.

They have raised $376.00 to date. They have donated this amount which I will be giving to one of our schools when I am there. Great work, Vicky.

In other news, and this is big and wonderful, I will have the fortunate task when in Tanzania this time around, of finding and starting a new school project, thanks to a donor who is willing to fund an entire 7 classroom project. I'll keep you posted on the progress of that.

One of our Directors, Peter Daniels and his partner Olga, will be joining us for the opening celebrations of this project.

Also attending the celebrations will be a former college classmate of mine, John Lutes, and members of his family who have come to visit "his" projects; a classroom building at the Kilimamoja Village School and a Teacher's Residence at the Gongali Village School that he funded in 2013.

Again a special thanks to all our supporters. Asante sana, sana, sana.

Alan Roy