Year Joined MKLM: 2011
Project: Butimba Parish Preschool
Project Goal: Provide quality early education that prepares children to succeed in primary school and beyond. The goal of the special education program is to provide children with disabilities a safe place where they can receive individualized attention and accommodations to meet their individual educational needs.
Caitlin is from Seattle where she belonged to St. Francis of Assisi Parish. She attended the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in Social Welfare. After college she worked as a nanny and an ECEAP preschool teacher. She volunteered in Head Start Programs, Young Life Ministries and taught CCD to the First Communion Class. Prior to going to Africa with MKLM she worked as a volunteer at both the Rift Valley Children’s Village in Karatu, Tanzania and the Mgolole Orphanage in Morogoro, Tanzania.
Caitlin is currently ministering at the Butimba preschool. The Butimba preschool program started in 2004. It has helped prepare over 300 students for primary school. Students who attend Butimba’s preschool are given a significant head start that is necessary for their success in overcrowded primary school classrooms. The special education program was started in 2012. It provides families with children with disabilities from the Butimba area with their only option for education. The effect of having the special education classroom on the same campus as the preschool (a very rare occurrance in Tanzania) has been very positive on all of the students. Caitlin tells us:
The challenges faced by the school are numerous, but the most concerning is the low education level of the teachers. Three out of four of them have completed a vocational training in Montessori education, but none of them have completed high school. Because of this teachers have very little understanding of child development which makes planning developmentally appropriate lessons and behavior interventions very difficult. They put in a great deal of effort, but it is very apparent that they feel overwhelmed by the task of teaching upwards of 40 small children.
My hoped-for outcome in this ministry is to help build the capacities of all of my teachers. I hope to help them tap into their strengths and to teach them some skills and strategies to make their teaching more effective. I want to help my general education teachers understand some basic steps of childhood development as well as show them how planning can make their day easier. More than anything I want to help them to find pride in what they are doing. I want to help them to see what an awesome responsibility they have been given and what a blessing it is be given the task of educating Tanzania’s future.
With the special education program, my hoped-for outcome is sustainability. I would like to help the parish to grow the program and to find a sustainable way to fund it. I would also like to connect the teacher with people who can help her to learn some basic physical and occupational therapy skills as well as some basic sign language. My hope is that the program can grow and reach out to more children with disabilities in the area. I hope to help the teacher realize her strengths so that she can provide her students with the best education possible.
The hoped-for outcome of both programs is integration between children with disabilities and children without.