Yesterday we introduced you to WYSK Elizabeth Kallop, an American living and working in Africa. Today, we’d like you to meet Cecelia Joseph Albert and Christine Akiny Ogeya two educators working alongside Elizabeth at Tumaini Junior School in Karatu, Tanzania.

Children in Tanzania still have very limited access to education, sometimes having to walk one to two hours each way, every day just to get to school, and that’s if their families can afford to send them. With a majority of teachers in Tanzania earning roughly $150-200 a month, many teachers themselves cannot even afford to send their own children to school.

No matter the challenges, Cecelia and Christine rise above them. They are fantastic teachers and wonderful role models, committed and dedicated to educating Tanzanian children against the odds.

Christine Akiny Ogeya
From Kenya

Madame ChristineHow did you get into teaching?

CO: I actually didn’t want to be a teacher. I wanted to be an accountant. But I disagreed with my father because he told me he was the one paying the school feels. After I finished school, I returned home and for two years we just sat looking at one another. It was like, “You will go,” “I will not go.” “You will go,” I will not go.” I even used to run away and stay with my elder sister. It wasn’t easy.

Then I had a friend who went to Montessori—she was the only girl in Form 2 in Nairobi. She told me I should go to Montessori. We talked and talked and she made me love the idea. In January 2007, I went to school and decided to join the teaching profession.

My first teaching job was in Kenya. I volunteered for no pay. That is where I gained experience. I then went to another school in Kenya, a private school, for one year, but had to leave because they were not paying us. We worked for an entire term without getting paid. Slowly, bit-by-bit, 24 teachers left school in one term. A short time after that I joined Tumaini, which has been a great place to work. In case of a problem, if I tell them, they will always advise me properly and they always help me.

I will always speak for these children, as they cannot speak for themselves. The teaching profession has many challenges. This has made me to learn so many things. I will be happy if I rescue these children.

Why is education so important to you?

CO: Education is very, very much important because with education and discipline, somebody can fit in any environment. The reasoning capacity for someone who is not learned is different, they cannot reason the way a learned person can.

Madame Christine and girls soccer teamDid your parents encourage you to learn?

CO: Not always. When I was young, I had a very good school and very good teachers, but I had a difficult time. My father had four wives and because my mother fell sick for one year, I was sent to live with a stepmother. She mistreated me and beyond making sure I had eaten my meals, she did not care. She did not have time.

When I reached Class 5, my father took me to be with my mother. My elder sister was like my mother-she made sure I had everything in the morning I needed before school. Financially supporting my education was a problem, getting the school uniforms and exercise books. It was a problem until I reached Class 8 when the results came out. My father said, “I didn’t know she was this bright.”

I was encouraged, but school fees were high. My mother said, “Christine, I just want you to go to school. God is normally the one who provides everything. Go to school and the first visitation, we shall bring everything.”

Do you live with your family or is Tumaini your home?

CO: I live at school as a boarding teacher. My parents and siblings are back home in Kenya. I normally visit twice a year for a few weeks.

What’s it like to be a teacher at Tumaini?

CO: Being a teacher in Tumaini is enjoyable. It has a lot of challenges, but in all professions there are challenges! Being a teacher, we normally say it is a calling. If you are forced to become a teacher, you will not make it.

A teacher is always a role model. The teacher is there to change lives. When you decide to become a teacher you should know you’re there to change the lives of young people. And at the same time that you are teacher, you are learning. Teaching and learning is a continuous process. But, that said, being a teacher is not the end for me. I would like to someday become an accountant and return to Kenya.

Cecelia Joseph Albert
From Mbulu Region

Miss CeceliaHow did you get into teaching?

CA: After secondary education, I applied to teaching college in Arusha, at Integrity Montessori. I joined that college for almost two years and then I went for teaching practice for three months. After the three months, I took the exams and then I came to Karatu.  At that time (2006), Tumaini had just 72 pupils. I have been teaching for six years here. I like teaching the little ones. I always wanted to be a teacher. I need to be a teacher.

I want to further my education and get a diploma, but I don’t have the money.

NOTE: Like many teachers, Cecelia holds a two year degree similar to an associates degree. She hopes to return to Integrity Montessori, to complete a two-year Diploma program. It is less than $1,000.00 a year for the diploma program.

Did your parents encourage you to learn?

CA: My mother is a nurse and she really wanted to give her children an education, but I am the youngest in my family, and the only one who has received an education.

My elder sister refused education and ended in Standard 7. She told my mother that going to class didn’t help her. She wanted to run a business. My brother too stopped school in Standard 7. My other sister stopped in Form 2 and after Form 4, I went onto college.

Do you live with your family or is Tumaini your home?

CA: I live nearby to Tumaini, outside of the school compound. When I first arrived here, there were enough boarding teachers so I live nearby. My mother and daughter live in Mbulu.

I would like to bring my daughter to Tumaini, but my mother is alone in Mbulu so the child remains with her there. This year my daughter will begin in Standard VII and the child’s father assists me with her education.

Note: The teachers that do not live on the compound are always present and receive all meals at school: breakfast, midmorning tea, lunch and dinner. Non-boarding teachers alternate for evening and weekend duty depending upon the day and week, with at least 2 or 3 teachers on duty at all times. The dedication of the teachers is awe-inspiring.

What’s it like to be a teacher at Tumaini?

CA: I like very much to be here. I was teaching the primary section when I first arrived here, but I like teaching the younger children. I really like being a teacher and if God wishes, I will get my diploma.

Students at Tumaini

This is the second part of a two part series, check out part one here.