SKIP HYMS (Hull York Medical School) work in the town of Kibaha, west of Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania with a local NGO called MYODA (Mkuza Youth Development Association). We aim to improve awareness of children’s disability, increase local knowledge of HIV/AIDS and improve access to healthcare and education to all children in the area.
SKIP HYMS was first established in 2007. We completed a needs assessment trip to Tanzania in the summer of 2008 to meet various potential partner organisations and identify an area or community that could most benefit from what SKIP has to offer. Following a lengthy discussion and evaluation in October 2008 it was decided that our project partner will be MYODA.
MYODA are a small grass roots NGO (Non-governmental organisation) based in Kibaha who work towards sustainable youth development and eradicating poverty whilst fighting against the medical and social problems of HIV/AIDS. Obedy Kuguru developed MYODA in 2004; he wished to help meet the needs that he saw in the children and youth in Kibaha. We returned to Kibaha in the summer of 2009 in order to further research the needs of the community, to decide what interventions we could hope to develop which would benefit the local people and to further strengthen our ties with MYODA. The information we gathered on this trip gave us an idea of the number of children living with disabilities in the area, what they and their families felt they needed most and the ways in which we could help with the curriculum at the nursery.
In the summer of 2010 we sent out our first official volunteers who were split into two waves, each spending two weeks on project. In the summer of 2011 we sent out a second group of volunteers consisting of 17 volunteers in 3 waves, again for 2 weeks each. This has been followed by volunteer waves in both 2012 and 2013.
Whilst in Tanzania they were involved in several aspects of the project:
- Set up by MYODA for children whose families could otherwise not afford to send them to nursery school. Attendance at nursery is essential as otherwise children are not able to enter primary education.
- Helping to teach the curriculum; there are currently around 70 children aged 3-7yrs and one teacher! Volunteers taught mainly English lessons – colours, animals, simple greetings, human body, numbers, shapes etc. An early grasp of the language is essential, as lessons in higher education will often only be taught in English.
- Thinking up as many fun extra-curricular activities as possible! These included sports, games and a repertoire of songs: head-shoulder-knees-and-toes and ‘I can sing a rainbow’ were particular favourites.
Disability Awareness Days We’re currently considering setting up a focus group for those in the community affected by disbility.
HIV/AIDS awareness seminars In conjunction with MYODA two seminars were run with the aim of increasing local knowledge.
- We ran several interactive health promotion sessions at a local secondary school.
- Subjects included: malaria, disability awareness and HIV.
- We’ve also began to teach sexual health and personal relationships at the secondary school which we’ve received very good feedback for.
MYODA wish to provide more support for children with physical and learning disabilities, which is something we hope to support via the implementation of a community support group which parents of children with disabilities can attend. We are also constantly thinking of ways to ensure our project is sustainable and have been developing an intervention to teach some of the teachers we’re involved with at the secondary school methods to deliver lessons on puberty and sexual health in an engaging way, as these were subjects they previously felt too awkward to tackle.
The ultimate aim of our project is sustainability and for SKIP not to be needed. Whilst our interventions at the moment are still relatively small, as we develop as a branch we hope to make an impact which is useful to and wanted by the community as well as one which will last and continue to develop long after we have left. Our interventions are
- Running community days to increase the knowledge and acceptance of disability in the community.
- HIV/AIDS awareness seminars
- Speaking at local high schools about disability, health promotion, sexual health and relationships.
- Working with disadvantaged young children in MYODA’s nursery.
Our main goals for this year are
- To fundraise to support SKIP and MYODA’s project in Tanzania.
- To improve the image of SKIP in our medical school and community to help get SKIP better well known and get more people involved in this amazing charity.
- Send a fifth group of volunteers out to Tanzania this coming summer to help run and improve our interventions there and to strengthen our ties with MYODA and the Kibaha community
- Further research and development of our HIV awareness and disability awareness days which, at present, seem to be one of our most successful interventions.
- Plan future interventions in conjunction with MYODA that tackle disability in the community, poverty, youth development and HIV/AIDS as well as continuing to develop our current ones.
So far this year we have had a number of fundraising events, including cake sales, bar crawls, bag packing as well as private donations. We are planning some large events such as our annual SKIP SOUNDCLASH music event in Hull and a safari themed bar crawl in york to fundraise and to spread the word of SKIP to our area.
A volunteers experience
I can remember the feeling of first stepping off the plane, feeling like a rabbit in headlights, when being approached by all the taxi drivers insisting their price is the lowest around; arriving in Kibaha, full of anticipation, excitement and nerves; feeling at home with the host families, and experiencing their fantastic food (possibly with the exception of the cow intestines!); having a cockerel as a living alarm clock; being completely shattered after working in the nursery, to hearing the secondary school students discussing what we had taught them in previous sessions; being squashed into a dalla dalla with a goat under my seat, nibbling at my ankles, asking for a better price when buying anything; sitting on a beach in Zanzibar; sitting in a car, casually watching elephants cross the road; and not forgetting, of course, Africa time!”
For more information about SKIP HYMS or our project please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org