We completed phase 1 of this exciting renovation project at the end of 2022 - completely transforming EdUKaid’s run-down office building in the coastal town of Mikindani into a multi-functional, Community Centre.  As well as creating a vibrant and stimulating environment, initiatives such as the instillation of solar power have dramatically reduced our electricity costs and ensure that we have a reliable source of power which is quite unique in this area.  Since then, the Centre has been a hive of activity. 

Influencing activities across the District

In November 2022 the Community Centre welcomed children to the Centre to participate in our programme extra-curricular activities including the extremely popular Pre-form 1 project which prepared over 300 children for their transition from Primary to secondary School.  This project was so successful in 2022, dramatically reducing the number of children dropping out of their first secondary school year, that the Mtwara Education Office is now replicating it in a range of venues which could benefit thousands of children – we are currently working with the Officials to ensure that it is of the same quality as EdUKaid’s Community Centre based project.

Experiencing the joy of reading

In early April we had completed the first stage of training and taken delivery of library books which enabled us to open the Library to children and adults in May and launch the programme of literacy focused activities we have been planning.  This included ‘reading for pleasure’ sessions for primary and secondary aged children where volunteers introduce children to different fictional books and daily story time sessions for pre-primary and pre-school aged children which have been incredibly popular. 

Family time

Family story time was introduced in June, encouraging families with young children to come together to enjoy stories and learn how to make basic resources which can encourage learning in the home.  This is an area we are looking to expand on in 2024 as we have seen exceptional levels of engagement in this activity over the last 6 months.  This is particularly significant for parents will have had access to books in the past and most could not read or write they are now learning alongside their children.

Peter Straus' legacy

In July 2022 we formally named ‘The Peter Straus Memorial Library’ to mark the exceptional contribution from the benefactor of the Herbert & Stefanie Straus Memorial Trust that funded this incredible project  Peter Straus is now well known in Mikindani and in the wider Mtwara community for giving children and families the opportunity to read for pleasure and learn outside of a school environment – what an incredible legacy he has left.

Economic empowerment for women

In August we ran our first Soap Making workshop where 30 young local women who had dropped out of school learnt how to make liquid soap over a 2-week period.  During that time they made 380 litres of soap which was sold locally – covering the cost of materials and generating a small income for the women which allowed them to buy their own materials to make the soap.  All 30 women are now making and selling soap regularly – generating a regular income for the first time in their lives.  This income, in turn, gives them a level of independence that reduces their reliance on men and the risk of exploitation and abuse.  We have continued to run sessions for local women to learn how sew and have been selling their products at various events back in the UK and making sanitary pads for our Inclusion Project activities with profit going directly to the women. 

Learning IT on a real computer

In August, we also introduced a range of IT sessions where children could learn how to use a computer.  Whilst children are taught about computers in school, they never have the chance to use one.  In school they use a stone to understand how a mouse works and cut out letters for a keyboard – the Community Centre has allowed them to learn the very basics so that those who go on to further education where computers are available have the essential skills they need.  Children can also use the computer to access a range of downloaded resources.

Enjoying educational cartoons

We have also used our projector to show educational films and cartoons which have proven really popular.  We are currently looking to source other videos that could help with our health promotion activities.  As well as the hundreds of children and families we welcome every week, we have been delighted to welcome local teachers who have enjoyed making use of the facilities.  

As well as continuing with our popular activities, we have a number of new initiatives planned for 2024.

If you would like to support this project, you can purchase a book for the Community Library though our online shop.