CEFPI HOPE Tanzania 2013

Published: Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Mayfield Project in 2012 focused on the theme, 'Schools as Sanctuaries of Hope'. The team from Western Australia developed their topic of assessing responses to economic hardships by focusing on how partnerships can be developed to assist communities in establishing learning facilities. This lead to the 'Learning Village' concept which promoted a structure and process for working with communities to assess and provide educational facilities for the whole community. The central concept was the 'Ideas Forum' to encompass principles of
- Building Capacity
- Empowering Access
- Sustain Relationships
- Learning for Living
- Preserve Culture
- Educating on the Vernacular
The proposal put to CEFPI was to develop a program of HOPE - Humanitarian Opportunities and Partnerships in Education. This concept was approved in principle by the Region Council and the challenge was there to look at ways of developing the concept.

Part of the structure of the process was to identify trusted locals in a locale and build on established relationships that already exist. Schools in the Australasia Region have established partnership programs with many schools either within Australia or through south east Asia or Africa. An opportunity arose to build on a community service partnership Scotch College and the Presbyterian Ladies College in Perth had established over the last 9 years with the village of Matipwili in Tanzania. Through the Director of Community Service at Scotch, Bill Cordner, who also was a participant on the Mayfield Project team from WA, an opportunity arose to invite a group of architects and teachers to test the 'Learning Village' structure and carry out the 'Ideas Forum' process.

Architects from Adelaide and Perth lead by Philip Idle (from EIW Architects in WA and CEFPI member) joined with teachers from Scotch College, St Stephen's School and Churchlands Primary to spend 3 days working in the village of Matipwili. The group coordinator, Bill Cordner, introduced the team to the Village Council as relationships were reestablished, new friendships made and design work undertaken.

The three day process was built loosely on Stanford University's d.school Design Thinking program. Keeping true to the 6 'Ideas Forum' principles established through the Mayfield Project, the team of 11 worked through the stages of
- Empathy
- Define
- Ideate
- Prototype
- Test

The project team established empathy with people in Matipwili on day one focusing on observing and sharing in their daily activities from house building techniques, methods of cooking, running small businesses and posing questions about the way the community could be improved. This principle of observing and listening, a guiding principle of the CEFPI HOPE concept, built up a picture of Matipwili rarely experienced by any tourist. Each day a banner was erected adjacent to the school and village council meeting area showing graphics and images promoting the themes of each stage of the 'Ideas Forum'. Supported by CEFPI Australasia, these banners became a pivotal focus for the villagers becoming involved in the process and remained behind in the village as a record of the three days together.

"We were welcomed into their very modest homes, with tiny windows, poor ventilation and leaking roofs with smiles everywhere. To see what we would consider conditions of hardship with people who are so proud of where they live, what they do in their small businesses and how they run their village was a humbling experience" commented Chloe Summers from Flightpath Architects, Adelaide.

The Matipwili village council shared their own vision for new education facilities to encompass areas for trades instruction. Their belief in improving conditions for those children who didn't proceed with their schooling together with providing opportunities for adult learning was uplifting. As the second day evolved, the team from Australia identified a meeting of minds as they defined their first day observations and established a design brief to include mechanics, carpentry, joinery, tailoring/dressmaking and weaving/mat making. A breakthrough moment came in discussions over improving the conditions for the women in the village by suggesting a laundry facility to avoid the long trek to the Wami River everyday. The use of sustainable design ideas in solar powered pumping of water to serve the new facility, harvesting rainwater during the wet season for storage and empowering the women's time together became a pivotal moment. A community kitchen is also to be included which will double as an area for the school students from Matipwili Primary School to use as a canteen. These ideas built on discussions with the village council on the second day.

"It gives so much encouragement when the human spirit comes through in ways we wouldn't expect. This is a Muslim village with traditional African roles for men and women, yet the acceptance of ways to improve conditions that went beyond traditional gender roles was inspiring." observed Tracey Roughana from Brown Falconer Architects in Adelaide.

Day three was a hive of activity as the team of architects and teachers went about the business of working up a prototype design with models being created of the site and the facility, discussions held in meetings on the siting of the new building and some of the teachers spending time with the children of the village in running some art, reading and sporting activities. The culmination of the visit was the whole village coming together to hear and share with the Australian visitors on the outcome of the three days. There was genuine excitement about what had been achieved together and an ownership of the project engendered through a carefully thought out process of open collaboration.

"This was bonding not barriers...it is just the beginning" commented Jack Graziotti, a teacher currently working in the UK.

The CEFPI HOPE team visited another 5 schools across Tanzania to appreciate the scope of education opportunities, from the International School Moshi to a small village school on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro, through to two secondary schools in Dar Es Salaam and St Jude's School in Arusha established and supported by Australian donors.

"The experience is only the start for the team. It is now intended to complete the design for the new training centre and establish a programme of fundraising to enable the construction of the facility over the next 9-12 months. This will include a visit by Scotch College and PLC students in July next year to bring the finishing touches to the exciting venture" advised Bill Cordner.

" This empowering experience will establish a process for CEFPI in Australia to coordinate other projects, bringing together architects and educators from around Australia to join with local people in other countries in improving the environments for learning across the world" challenged Philip Idle. "We hope this will inspire others to become involved in CEFPI making a difference beyond our own Region."

The progress of this project will see a final design resolved by mid-September and forwarded to the Matipwili village council for feedback. Thanks to the Barbour family who manage the nearby Kisampa Bush Camp, contact can be easily coordinated with the remote villagers. Prototype structures are being developed as a student project at Scotch College in Perth, overseen by Steve Riddell, the Design Technology teacher who was a HOPE team member. Fund raising will begin in earnest over the coming months and we encourage every CEFPI chapter to provide an opportunity for some small contribution to be made as we seek to seriously develop this program.

Download You Tube documentary about the trip here

Further information can be obtained by contacting Philip Idle at philip@eiwarch.com.au or keeping an eye on the website as things begin to develop.