Thirty three smiling children and their parents gathered recently at the TAMESNA Center for Nomadic Life for the first day of class at the foundation’s new elementary school on Nov. 20. Now operating in a temporary thatched structure, the school will soon grow into a boarding school with an extensive garden, kitchen, dormitories, a well, and two classrooms.
This unprecedented boarding school in the middle of the desert is the foundation’s latest, most ambitious project– all the more remarkable because even day schools in the desert are rare due to sporadic support from the government and the difficulty of recruiting teachers to leave their villages or cities in the south to live among the nomads. So, nomadic children rarely have the opportunity for education.
Complicating the problem is that during the dry season, nomads must leave their encampments in search of pasture for the herds. Parents who accompanied their children to the Tamesna school already live far away and will need to move even farther when pasture becomes scarce. They said they liked the idea of leaving the children in school. I asked what they were willing to do to help make this happen. They said they would provide a caregiver, provide a dormitory in an existing structure for the children, and supply blankets and mats if the foundation would provide three meals a day instead of one. This summer, during school vacation, the foundation hopes to begin construction of two permanent classrooms for the boarding school, a residence for the teacher, and a well. The second phase will add dormitories and the third will add a kitchen, dining, storage facilities and an enclosure wall. Each student will have responsibility for raising a goat and working in the garden to help support the school. We have recruited a good “nomadic” teacher, who has moved to Tamesna with his family and two “adopted” girls. Almost half the school enrollees are female.
The first day the kids were a little nervous and disorganized. The teacher had just moved in and had no chance to work with them yet. When we came back in just one week they were sitting politely said “Bonjour Madame” and were reading 10 flash cards the teacher had made. This first phase of the Tamesna school was made possible by the Tom Seligman legacy grant from the Christensen Fund. Many Thanks.
If you want to meet the students and support one in this great new adventure click here.
For details about the permanent school and how you can help click here.
Bye for now,