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Lesson Plans

Re: Caring is Sharing

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Teresa Tipton (tiptonist)
Sat, 25 Dec 1999 17:43:00 EAT

Dear Sandra and the ARTSEDNET List,

Sandra wrote:

"Okay Teresa- sounds as though you could use a care package. What
types of things can you not find there that you really miss and would love
to get a hold of. I'm sure your students would enjoy receiving packages from
all over America and the world. Even if it's just another students work or a
small pen or a pen pal." - Sandra Barrick

I am moved by your generosity and the immediate responses of others who are
interested in the idea of a care package to Tanzania. Aftering signing back
on the listserve a few days ago, I was actually so dismayed at how it have
become a chat line instead of the initial resource it began as, that I was
seriously considering signing off again. Thanks for renewing my faith in the
good hearted souls out there, as well as of the value of the list.

I welcome all and any type of packages that you and your students would like
to put together for needy children. Let me clarify that I will be sharing
your gifts, whether art postcards or art supplies, with local Tanzania
schools and students who do not have access to art instruction or art
supplies. The majority of students in the area I live in do not have
resources in their schools of any kind. Nothing. Even the other private
schools I have visited have very little. Students in local schools learn in
classes of 60 - 120 students, sometimes in buildings that are just a cement
shell. Rote memorization is the most common method of instruction. Hand-on
experiences are limited to schools that have resources to use in classrooms,
which are few.

However, my students are in an International School, where they benefit from
me as an art teacher and an art supply budget that would make you gasp. So,
while I don't have access to supplies we take for granted in America, I do
have resources at my fingertips. And let's remember that art happens,
regardless of the supplies one has available. But for local students, art
doesn't happen very much when paper and pencils aren't even available. And
pens are usually what a child on the streets will beg you to give them.

I run several community service projects and donate art supplies to many
groups, including orphanages, local art projects providing free art
opportunities to local students, and NGO's working with children. Your care
packages will be routed there. Tanzania is the third poorest country in the
world with the average daily wage of less than a dollar. And yet the cost of
living there is one of the highest in the world. This disparity means that
the average child can barely afford the shoes they need to attend school,
let alone buying their own books, pencils, the school uniform, and paying
school fees that were implemented after the government didn't pay wages for
teachers over the past three years. Currently, 30% of the children in Dar es
Salaam, where I live, cannot afford to go to school. These community
organizations and groups provide paper and art supplies for students to
create art. Providing these materials will mean that more children will have
an opportunity to have an art experience with something more than string and
bottle caps. Paints, brushes, paper, and drawing supplies are the most
appreciated. Glittery crayons, glittery things, fun collage materials are
also well received because they don't exist locally.

Keep in mind that the theft rate of packages coming into Tanzania is high.
And that the resources for groups who receive your goods are low. My
experience is that 'thank-you's" are "experienced" more than "expressed."
Don't be disappointed if you don't hear back from a group that received your
supplies. It is usually intended but not achieved.

I have conducted several arts exchanges with schools in the U.S. as well as
other countries. Our artwork will be on display at Siena College for the
annual Martin Luther King exhibit in New York this February, and at the
International Gallery of Children's Art in London this spring. Exchanges are
rewarding but slow. The artwork that was returned to us from New York last
year took 9 months to arrive. Care packages sent surface mail are equally as
slow, especially when they are held up in customs. Bribes to get your
materials out of port are expected, and without them, result in long delays
receiving goods. Packages you send now may not be received until next school

All of that said, for those of you interested in penpals or art exchanges
with our school itself, art postcards are the easiest to receive. It makes a
good cross-curricular activity to study Tanzania and find out more about the
country. Most students probably only heard about Tanzania in relation to
Kilimanjaro, Serengheti, or the American Embassy bombing.

Our internet access is limited and the computers horrible, so internet
exchanges have not been very successful. We usually try to send artwork with
someone leaving on a plane out of the country to ensure they will arrive.
For those of you sending things to us directly, please CERTIFY your package
so that it requires a signature on the other end. This doesn't always
guarantee arrival, but it increases the changes. Certifying is better than
insurance, which I believe is hard to collect on overseas goods.

The address should read:

P.O. BOX 2651

Please don't send things with my name first. This means additional delays,
extra duty charges, and a bribe to get it. The packages are already opened
when I get them and there's no guarantee things haven't been removed when I
pick them up.

Thank-you Sandra and the rest of you who so quickly responded to this
request, for making this Christmas more than Merry! Perhaps with this spirit
in mind, we can tackle the rest of our collective woes.


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