Our monthly newsletter highlights the progress your donations are making in the community of Nshupu, Tanzania. It is a brief and informative email, but rest assured that improvements are continuously happening in the village.
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The new school, when it reaches full capacity, will offer six years of secondary education to up to 480 students. One important goal for the school is to serve children from the poorest families, with 50% of the student body supported under full sponsorship, and another 25% receiving partial support. Another key objective is to recruit and retain girls, who are severely underrepresented in secondary schools in Tanzania.
Many of you ask how our children at Precious are faring through the pandemic. So far we have had no reports of COVID-19 cases among the children, the staff or their families. But this is anecdotal as there is no readily-available or reliable testing and vaccinations are not permitted in Tanzania at present. However, a recent wave of deaths began to surge and could not be hidden.
On January 11th, Precious English Medium School started its sixth year welcoming 347 new and past students. Among this year's school enrollees, 128 children are receiving a sponsorship; a growth of 113% since the school's founding in 2016. The school also opened its dormitories to students. Our boarders include 4th and 7th graders and our poorest students, who benefit from nutritious meals and supportive environment.
Precious was founded over a decade ago by William and Sarah Modest to care for and educate nine vulnerable children in the village of Nshupu. Ten years later Precious is providing a safe and loving home for twenty more kids, educating hundreds of children each year, empowering women with skills to support their families, and practicing efficient farming to improve self-sufficiency.
According to the UN, an estimated 70% of Tanzanian children between the ages of 14-17 are not receiving a secondary education. On Nov 1st, Precious celebrated Tumaini’s graduation from secondary school – believed the first in her family - along with Home resident Nickson. Tumaini aspires to be a cardiac surgeon and Nickson a tour guide. We are so proud of both children's accomplishments from their humble beginnings.
On October 10, the Precious English Medium School celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2020. The graduating student body represents the beautiful ethnic and cultural diversity of Tanzanians. They are members of the Meru, Maasai, Chagga, Nyakyusa, Kamba, and Ngoni tribes. While most students are from Nshupu and surrounding villages, some originate from remote regions, including Manyara, Ngorongoro, and Dar es Salaam.
Precious Project's cofounder, Dr. Susanne Rheault, has authored a book entitled My Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir of Africa. Among the fascinating stories of Africa that Susie tells is how she and her husband (Gil Williams) felt compelled to help the children in Nshupu, Tanzania, which led to their founding of Precious Project. All proceeds from My Wild and Precious Life book sales will be donated to Precious Project.
It is with saddened hearts that we inform you of the passing of our dear Board Member, W. Ed Wood. Ed was deeply committed to bettering the lives of people who live in poverty and he provided Precious Project an exceptional perspective. He led the Clinton Foundation Health Access Initiative in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, where he provided a care and treatment plan to assist 1.2 million Tanzanians living with HIV+.
Two brothers and a sister joined the Precious Orphans Children’s Home this past month. Their dire situation was brought to director William Modest’s attention by a farmer who had caught the siblings stealing sugarcane from his fields. The children reported that their mother was not feeding them and that she had not been around for days. Their father was deceased and left his deeply troubled wife with five children.
On July 26, 2020, the tenth anniversary of the Precious Home, co-founders William and Sarah Modest took the residential children on a field trip to Tengeru Special Needs Community Center. The Precious children donated food and met the special needs children supported at Tengeru. William shared it was a very happy day for the Precious children to experience the joy of giving to others in need.
The residential children at Precious Children’s Home honored the voices and actions of Africa’s children who fought for their educational rights in the 1970s. They also demonstrated solidarity with their brothers and sisters protesting racism across the Atlantic and around the world. An important aspect of the education at the Precious School is valuing one another despite differences, such as tribal origins and color.
Precious is in a unique position among most schools in Tanzania in using educational technology, and it’s these resources that are allowing our Precious Home children to participate in remote learning. Since April our ICT/STEAM program leads, have been working with the Precious School's faculty and the Precious Home’s kids. They include the delivery of live online classes over Zoom.
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Tanzanian president has closed all schools indefinitely and our students are now at home with their families. Our concern is that these children, who have placed the Precious Primary School as #1 in our district, will lose the academic gains they have earned through their hard work. Additionally, a significant number of students depend on the school for their daily meals.
Art curator, photographer, and educator, Melissa Knowles, spent three weeks in January at Precious English Medium Primary School leading art classes for the lower grades and photographing the students. Melissa encouraged all expression of art, inspiring confidence in each child’s creativity. Art is good for helping children learn problem-solving skills and to hone their creativity.
Supporting early childhood education is at the roots of Precious Project's work. The first action Precious Project took after supporting the home with beds, toys, clothes, and food was to open a kindergarten. Precious Project's directors understood that early childhood education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing and was a mandatory first step.
Click here to read some of the highlights, which could not have happened without your support. Among those: The fact that Precious English Medium Primary School opened the new school year to serve 305 village students, up from 225 in 2018 while continuing to demonstrate excellence on the National Exams, again positioning the school among the top in the district.
We are building an ICT and STEAM lab at the primary school. This lab is needed to safely store all the school's computers, iPads, science equipment, etc. and will serve as an after-school center of learning. The lab is situated next to the existing solar panels, which will minimize the need for long-run wires. We also plan to install solar panels on the new building’s roof to provide additional electricity as needed.
Precious ranked 157 of over 7100 schools in the nation based on this year's results on the exam. The Class 7 students, seven boys and four girls, had their graduation ceremony on October 28th and a Tanzanian TV station covered the event, highlighting how the school is advancing primary education in the region, including the use of technology to accelerate learning and build critical thinking skills
Ekaely Elibariki makes her daily trek to a local farm where she purchases bananas and avocados and then resells them. Some buyers are at the Precious campus, others are local villagers or at the Leganza bus station. The small profit she pockets helps provide for herself and children. Ekaely is part of a savings and loan women's group that meets weekly at the Precious Community Center.
Precious English Medium Primary School boasts the two top-scoring seventh-grade students on the mock national exams in the district. The district is made up of 164 schools and 9,500 students. Nelson Greyson, who attends Precious on a scholarship from The Foundation For Tomorrow placed first. He and 12 other students joined Precious School this past January when their previous school was closed by the government.
This year, Precious Orphans Children’s Home, the Tanzanian NGO that Precious Project supports, purchased farmland on which they intend to build the Precious Secondary School in the future. This past month, they successfully connected to the town’s water system which will serve as a backup water source to their own well water. Now the vegetables planted last month can be properly irrigated.
With the help of the Mali Hai Club, 300 trees were purchased and planted on newly purchased land. The types of trees include cypress, acacia, avocado, orange, guava and mango trees. The process of planting these trees was built into the environmental science curriculum to teach the students about conservation. About 110 students from grades 4 through 7 came out to assist with the tree planting.
You may have noticed from a recent posting on our Facebook that some students at Precious English Medium Primary School are wearing a different school uniform. The material of the new uniforms is more comfortable for the hot climate. Girls have more freedom with the addition of pants. That's not the only change at Precious Project.We also have a new look for our website in order to give you a better user experience.
Precious began its music program last year with a significant gift from a major donor to purchase sound equipment and instruments. Under the program, students at Precious English Medium School are offered lessons to learn to play the keyboard, drums, and guitar, as well as sing with the school choir. The program is so popular that during school breaks, you can hear the unmistakenable sounds of the music instruments.
Connie Berry, a writer for Martha's Vineyard Times, interviews Elliot Kronstein, Precious Project's Board of Directors President, and David Finkelstein, an optometrist and Precious volunteer. Both recently returned from Nshupu, Tanzania and share Precious's history and accomplishments in the village, including current developments at Precious English Medium School.
Visiting Optometrist, Dr. David Finkelstein, spent two days at the Precious English Medium Primary School examining our students' eyes. Preliminary screening determined which students might have some vision difficulties and they were prioritized for appointments. Dr. Finkelstein brought as much equipment as he safely could pack. The Lion's Club, Seekonk branch, donated many glasses to Precious Project.
Early education is one of the most powerful means of securing future academic success. Because of this, when the Precious Children's Home moved to its existing location, the original small empty cement house became a nursery school for the children of Nshupu. In 2016, the Precious English Medium Primary School was built and the nursery school class was moved into the school.
Precious Orphans and Children’s Home recently invested in expanding the farm. The first thing our co-founder and director, William Modest, did was expand the chicken coop to accommodate 200 more chickens. William estimates that the new total of 300 chickens could produce up to 7-8 trays of eggs/day. The eggs will be sold to local hotels and lodges to build revenue.
On October 20th, over 400 parents, family members, friends, and students turned out to celebrate the nine students who comprised the first graduating class of the Precious English Medium Primary School. The graduating class maintained high grades making the Precious English Medium Primary School the number one school in the district; number ten in the region and ranking 106 out of 6,726 primary schools in Tanzania.
Volunteers, Ina Ghaznavi and Allan Andersen, have a passion for enthusing students about STEAM . Since 2015, they've been working to provide students the tools and skills to advance their learning and succeed in the new digital economy and beyond. In August, they brought additional iPads and science equipment including wifi-enabled digital microscopes for the students to discover their micro-world.
The August parents meeting was extremely well-attended. Headmistress Madame Debora Kileo gave a report on the activities since January and talked about teacher training, new laptops, i-pads, textbooks, and musical instruments. She explained the dormitories including why housing the fourth and seventh graders was important to their scholastic success.
Solar panels are now providing electricity to all buildings on the Precious campus including the Home, School, Community Center/Dining Hall, and Dormitories! The system is rated to produce 5120 watts of DC power, which charges the DC battery bank. An inverter converts the DC power to AC power which is connected to the wiring of the buildings on campus.
Our fourth and seventh-grade students will board in the new dorms for six months of weekends leading up to the National Exams. Boarding will give them an additional 16 hours of studying and tutoring a week. It is imperative that the 4th-graders pass the National Exams so that they don’t have to repeat third and fourth grade. It is critical that the 7th-graders pass the exams so they can continue to secondary school.
Precious Project has been tasked with growing its donor base by a dedicated and generous donor who has promised to match all donations from NEW donors up to $100,000! We are seeking new donors and are turning to you, our loyal supporters, to ask if you could help us champion our cause. Also, we are proud to announce the results of our students' performance on the mock National Examinations taken earlier this month.....
NSHUPU - Dehydrated, hungry and naked, Thomas (not his real name) was recently rescued by Precious Project. In March, co-founder Susie Rheault led a teacher training on child abuse, and certain at-risk children were identified. A month later, when one of these children did not come to school for two days, co-founders William and Sarah Modest and social worker, Irene Peter Assey, paid a visit to the child’s home.
NSHUPU - Precious Project is planning to build dormitories in an effort to support the fourth and seventh-graders as they prepare to take the national exams. According to Tanzania's Ministry of Education, when fourth-graders fail the national exam twice, they repeat third and fourth grade. When seventh-graders fail once - their scholastic careers are over! They are denied entrance into any school.
NSHUPU - They gather religiously every week. This group of chattering women isn't a knitting circle or a social club. This is business. Precious Project has helped facilitate a women's empowerment group for several years. The group started as a savings and loan group, where women buy into the group with a purchase of shares. Those shares are the pool of money that’s available to be loaned to members of the group.
NSHUPU - Precious Primary School is officially on the map, scoring first in the ward on the Tanzanian National Exam. All of Precious Primary's fourth graders who took the exam passed it. And their scores ranked the school at the top of the ward and 4th in the district out of 300 other schools. This is a testament to the hard work of our teachers and school administration.