Travel Report – Tanzania March 2023
Dear friends of our P.A.P.A.-Bridge,
Some weeks ago, we have visited our project in Kilema/Tanzania.
We would like to share our impressions with you. Many positive things has happened since the last visit.
Please find our detailed meeting minutes here:
We may report that the Vocational Training Center (VTC) is running steadily and reliably. However, through the leaving of our long-time principal Mary Mchaki we have suffered a setback in which we are currently engaging ourselves a lot. At the same time, Tanzania is massively suffering from the inflation and therefore, many families cannot pay the whole school fees for their children. This, of course, places a notable burden on the finances of the VTC.
Visiting the village
This time, we visited the village for three days and as always, we were warm-heartedly and sincerely welcomed and taken care of. We had plenty of time to hold talks and to discuss the superior strategies in the board meeting. With our new chairman Mr. Grasper Njuu we have gained a very experienced and visionary chairperson – as the longtime chairman Prof. Mosha has retired.
The running of the school – the teaching staff
Without doubts, the dominating topic of this visit was the leaving of our established and appreciated principal – Ms. Mary Mchaki. Unfortunately, she had to move to the capital city Dar es Salaam due to private and unpostponable reasons, because of which she could not work in Kilema on-site. So, we had to quickly find a solution that strengthened the teaching staff again and that was sustainable, too.
Therefore, we appointed the previous leader of production as new principal. Her name is Philomena Lyamuya and she has worked closely with Mary already. Philomena was suggested by Father Aidan and the new chairman Mr. Gasper – and also I could now convince myself on-site that Philomena is very appropriate for this role. Of course, there is a lot for her to grow into and to be learned, but we are sure that this will be successful. For this we wish her all the very best and God’s blessing!
As far as the teachers are concerned, we have achieved a very good overall level. The performance of the team is strong, and the teachers are also well connected with the new principal Philomena. Now it is about time to strengthen the team spirit further and to grow together.
Regarding the number of students, we unfortunately must report that this has decreased. A year ago, we had approximately 270 students, while we now only have about 200 students. In this respect we need an offensive approach to the advertisement of our school – one that is far beyond the borders of our region. For 200 students are too few – with this relatively small number we cannot cover the operative expenses reasonably.
In terms of the exam results of the last school year (end of 2022), we cannot tell much about them, as they are not available to date. However, we it is to be assumed that the overall performance of all students was very good.
A new topic emerged during the board meeting, namely the blatant lack of textbooks. There are hardly any present textbooks, which subsequently makes teaching difficult. So, we urgently must help to provide at least one textbook per subject and department in the library, so that the students can borrow or copy from books. The costs amount to EUR 4.000,-. And this is only the bare minimum of the start of this initiative. Textbooks are really expensive in Tanzania!
Finances of the school
The quarterly professional and regular controlling of finances works, which is good. The different areas of production will be reported in the next section. Something that is really worrying us is the fact that fewer and fewer families can pay the school fees, as the buying power in the countryside is generally decreasing. In addition to this, the VTC had to raise the school fees due to the inflation. The annual school fees per student are now around EUR 420,-. Unfortunately, this is bringing families in difficulties, and they are behind with their payments to the school. This causes us a substantial financing gap of the VTC, which cannot be compensated by the profits of the production sector.
Departments & Business Development Center (BDC)
As far as the financial overall performance of all the departments is concerned, we are unfortunately still on the same level as last year. We wanted to be more ahead in this point but unfortunately, things take a bit longer until they bear fruit. Therefore, we are still a fair way off our aim that the school can provide for itself. Although we are outstandingly equipped with tools and personnel in all the departments, we can sell too few products. This means that our main financial straits are for sure a missing sales and marketing person, who would have to work on the whole region to advertise and sell our products. That’s why we will promptly start recruiting for this.
In the next sections we will outline the situations in all the departments.
Masonry and bricklaying and the production of bricks
Since the last visit, we have not been able to increase production, unfortunately, as too few new projects were found for its growth. We would have enough capacity and resources to double the current production of ca. 500 bricks per day. With the help of a new salesperson, we want to set the next step in this department.
This department is running stably and is teaching teenagers continuously – without a focus on production, though.
Mechanics & Driving School
Also this department is running stably and is much asked for among students.
The area of motor vehicle service and the driving school are in great demand.
This department is running better than it was last year. Only recently, the school has won a tender to produce 400 beds. Further orders are in the pipeline. We hope to continuously receive good orders in the future with the new salesperson. The machines and the processes with the teachers are running very well!
No breaking news – it is running on very well.
Here we had to part with a teacher, as he was not risen to the challenges. Currently we are looking for a new teacher for the carpentry. As a temporary solution, a former graduate student of our VTC called Emmanuel is working as a foreman and an instructor for the VTC students. Emmanuel is doing a great job! We congratulate him and also principal Philomena, who discovered the potential in this graduate – top!
Food Production & canteen
The restaurant is running stably and is used a lot, too. Catering equipment has been purchased, whereby the active catering has started only recently. Results and its success can be hopefully reported after the next visit.
The training of plumbing is led by a sister – how wonderful when sisters can act so universally. She is doing her work very successfully and with a lot of passion and joy.
This department is very important and well-attended. However, we must invest in a better internet and network connection, so that the students can study better – which we are happy to support. The costs amount to approximately EUR 2.500,-.
No breaking news – it is running on very well
Agriculture and animal husbandry
Here the important building for the department could unfortunately not be finished yet due to lacking financial resources. However, with the help of further sponsors we are planning its completion by end of 2023 so that we can welcome the first students for this new department from January 2024 onwards. The demand for this department is very big already, as agriculture and animal husbandry are of great importance in the region. We kindly ask for further donations for this very significant project in the region – its completion will cost additional EUR 25.000,- approximately. In the meantime, at least the breeding of pigs and chickens is continuously proceeded in other old buildings.
The bakery has always been the cash cow and the driver of growth in the BDC. Unfortunately, this growth trend is now retarded, as the people in the region cannot afford these breads anymore. Flour and oil have become significantly more expensive. Now we are struggling with higher primary costs and a reduction of purchasing power of the customers. Philomena, our principal, now wants to try out new bread variations and probably cakes and cookies – we will see. It’s a pity that we invested in the setup of an additional production shift 6 months ago and now must put up with the sharp decline of purchasing power unfortunately.
Wholesale (for BDC)
No breaking news – it’s running well.
Water project (BDC)
The production of our own PAPA Bridge Kilema water in 0.5 l and 1 l bottles has now officially started from February onwards. Some approvals had to be waited for, which are now given.
This is for sure going to be a great financial bearer of hope for the VTC. For if many institutions of the Diocese of Moshi buy our PAPA Bridge water instead of the established bottled water in the stores, we will be able to produce many ten thousands of bottles per month. The production capacity would be around 50.000 bottles per month – more than enough!
We will soon receive reports from successful graduates, which we will publish on our website.
The sponsorship programs are now gaining relevance, as families are becoming less and less able to afford the school fees. Therefore, we ask all our friends of PAPA Bridge to talk to acquaintances to get additional sponsors for either a small sponsoring of monthly € 25,- via pool sponsorship or sponsoring the full training costs of one student for monthly € 35,-.
Father Josef Windisch is going to visit the school again in July 2023 with a group from Austria.
And Father Aidan is going to travel to Austria this August again and we will host the information evening together with him.
At this point we would like to express our whole-hearted THANK YOU to all the supporters – thank you for your donations and your prayers!
And at the same time, we’d like to say a huge PLEASE to talk to many people about the PAPA Bridge VTC to ensure the necessary financial support for the people in need in Kilema – ASANTE SANA!
Kind regards and a big bless,
Walter Koch, Chairman
Father Aidan, Tanzania
and the board of the P.A.P.A-Bridge