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San Diego Students Help Promote Literacy in Tanzania

Published 09/12/2016 by Global Communities

La Jolla Country Day students from San Diego, CA, recently traveled to Tanzania with PCI for a cultural and service learning experience. The students helped build a library at Mmazami Primary School to promote readership and literacy among the students and in the surrounding community of Butiama District in Tanzania.


The students helped raise $3,000.00 for construction materials, paint, labor, tree seedlings and various other materials used during their visit. Prior to the students’ arrival, community leaders mobilized the community to provide locally available materials for the project. The community worked with local laborers to begin the initial rehabilitation of the old classroom structure, leveling out the floor and plastering the interior and exterior with cement.

During their three days in Mmazami, the students made tremendous progress on the library. The finishing touches were completed after their departure and the library has since been recognized by district officials as a model for the rest of the district.


During the official opening ceremony, the Mmazami community and the Butiama District officials expressed their appreciation to La Jolla Country Day and PCI for their invaluable assistance in the construction of the library. Community leaders are committed to promoting the library as a vehicle for literacy and education in the community.


A Mmazami village chairperson shared, “We (Mmazami community) are so, so thankful for everything. We will ensure the community will use it as a community library and will keep it safe and will be trustworthy when using the books.”


Country Day students and teachers joined the community to help with a wide range of activities, including:

  • Erecting hand-washing stations near the latrines along with student health club members;
  • Planting fruit and multi-purpose trees with the district agriculture extension officer;
  • Cleaning up the school grounds;
  • Drawing teaching aids to be utilized in Standard I and II classrooms for the literacy curriculum;
  • Painting a world map on the outside of the library;
  • Painting the library’s walls and ceiling boards;
  • Meeting with PCI’s “Upendo” Women Empowered group to help plant trees;
  • Conducting trash pick-up;
  • Fetching water for construction and tree planting;
  • Building, sanding and painting shelves, benches and tables;
  • Serving the students’ Food for Education meals and cleaning the cooking area.

Most importantly, the students expanded their horizons, embraced new cultures, and made a lasting impression on the students of Mmazami and their families.


Butiama community members share enthusiasm for the new library: 

“We are so grateful that we got a library. All schools would want this, so we are grateful that we were selected. We promise to work together to use it well and hope to continue working with the school, PCI, and other donor/students to continue the good work. We are so grateful that the Mmazami students and community will benefit from this.” – Mmazami Primary School Chairperson

“We are so thankful for the cooperation of everyone and expect this cooperation to continue with the partnership of PCI, the School Committee, the school, village, ward education coodinator and donors. We are so, so thankful. There are many other schools that also need a library, so we are lucky to have received this and it is our time to take pride in this and utilize it well.” – Mmazami School Committee Member

“I left before the library was completed, I took a short leave, and when I came back, I was so happy and surprised to see such a great library to assist in my work. I will take pride in having this new library and office and so happy to use it. We welcome the Country Day students back any time to see the library and visit Mmazami Primary School again.” – Mmazami Primary School Library Teacher

“We are so grateful! Let’s use this library as an example of the young students (Country Day) who volunteer to help others bring development. We adults can do the same if young students can. Let’s help our community, our children! Let’s learn from these good examples and the good hearts of the Country Day students. Yesterday, we had a health training in the classroom next door, but all the teachers came and looked at the library as a good example and gave praise, so it is already being used as a great learning exchange. Now we’ve done this, let’s work together to continue this good work. It was a lot of work, even I gave my own money for remaining bricks, but look at how great it is! If the Country Day students are volunteering to build this for us, so will I, so that’s why I gave my own money. The library teacher will now use this library as her office and ensure it is always open for use and visitors.” – Bukabwa Ward Education Coordinator