Studying at home, in the Malaika office
Hard study at home!
After a long three months in which schools in Tanzania have been closed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, schools have finally opened, and students returned to school at the end of June.
The Director of Malaika; Jutta Kassam, explains the various challenges faced during the pandemic and isolation while having to foster the children's growth in all aspects.
"It has been difficult to have 24 children remain home and away from school, isolated from their daily routines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I noticed that it was particularly challenging with the older children, who typically spent a majority of their time at school or in boarding school. Despite this taxing change and a new way of life over the past three months, we did our best to keep the children active, entertained, and ensured that we could all support one another during this time. Additionally, we were sent homework via Whatsapp from all the schools for all the children, to ensure that none of them was falling behind education".
A complex organization
"Even though it was hectic to have to organize and keep on top of all the homework received, completed, and sent back - we managed! Luckily, we already had Internet available at Malaika (even though the children no typically used it), which was helpful when the children were required to attend school programs online. Thankfully a sponsor donated some computers and tablets, which allowed us to work together as a community and a family by sharing the study resources - even though they didn't always work. This made it hard for the children to get their homework done on time, as well as allowing all of them a fair amount of time to complete their work".
In comparison to many other Tanzanian students, the children at Malaika are privileged and thankful for being able to continue their education over the past three months. We at Malaika believe that education is essential, and hence it is one of the many goals we aim to achieve with our children. Therefore, even during this trying time, we encouraged our children to dedicate the same energy and passion for their studies. Furthermore, Malaika was able to provide the same care and attention to children who have transitioned into the outreach program (coming back to their families), by ensuring they too were able to continue with their studies. Once you're a part of Malaika, you're always a part of the family.
Free time to spend together
Jutta Kassam continues to share how Malaika coped during the pandemic.
"I worked hard to ensure that the children set aside free time away from their studies. This time was very well structured and organized as we developed a timetable that met everyone's needs and followed it together. Creating our schedule helped the children, as well as the staff, get all their work done. It encouraged everyone to work together by helping with household chores (such as cleaning, preparing food, washing clothes, and taking care of the garden and the animals). The babies and younger children at Malaika spent most of their time with the housemothers; they would help the younger children with their homework, play with them, and care for their basic needs. Since we are a family at Malaika, I always made it a point for all the children, the housemothers, myself, and any other members, to participate in daily activity (playing football, dancing and games) and spend time together as a family".
When the restrictions were lifted, and the back to school order was released, sure the children were happy to have a change of pace and environment, but they were not entirely thrilled to go back to school/boarding school. After all, the food and company are much better at home - Home is home indeed. The children appreciated spending this long period isolated with each other, despite the challenges and fights that happened here and there. Ultimately, that's what happens in any family from time to time.
Hope for the future
We hope that the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic improves over the next few months. Meanwhile, we will continue to be proactive and follow preventative measures, such as continuous sanitization and education on how to protect ourselves to the best of our ability. We hope and pray to overcome this problematic period soon; in the meantime, we hope that all of our friends, family, and donors/supporters across the globe are keeping well and safe.
Malaika sends you all, our love and strength to stay safe!
Babies at Malaika - not yet to school
Again wearing uniform, back to school