Each journey Brick by Brick takes to Tanzania includes site visits to locations of perceived need. Meetings are arranged with community leaders, families, prospective educators and children to share stories over steaming hot cups of chai tea and discuss their mutual expectations. Time and again, the stories revolve around to the same conclusions that we all share - the communities want a better future for their children and recognize that education is the only path for doing so.
During this some demographic information is gathered regarding the number of prospective students. Each classroom can accommodate 25-35 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. At this time, Brick by Brick discusses its requirement that the new school be open and available to all children regardless of gender, church, class or tribe. In a Brick by Brick school there are Christian, Muslim and Pagan boys and girls of every tribe learning together side by side without distinction. This is a non-negotiable point.
Then various locations are scouted as to comfort, security and ease of access for all students. Many students walk long distances to get to school each day, it is important that those pathways be safe and as comfortable as conditions allow.
But it is not as simple as merely wanting a school. There also has to be a well-defined commitment from the community itself. Brick by Brick asks for 10% funding from the local community as buy-in to each prospective project. As can be imagined, for an impoverished region this can be burdensome, but it is seen as being absolutely essential in having local ownership over the schools. Ultimately it will truly be theirs and they take great pride in this.
If all those requirements are in place and the decision has been made to move forward, a local general contractor is hired (called a Fundi) who has the commitment to quality that is needed for our schools. Brick by Brick insists on using quality materials that will last amidst the harsh African environment. Depending on whether the school is to be a one or two room structure, drawings are shared and a bill of materials is costed out and budgeted.
With a budget in hand, Brick by Brick returns to the US and begins the process of actively seeking a funding partner for the new school. These partners have included middle schools in Florida, Washington and Wisconsin, benevolent organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, Womens groups, various church projects and through special fundraising endeavors including the annual Terry's Tanzania Trek walk-run and the Brick by Brick concert events.
When the funds are accumulated, they are wired to our partners in Tanzania and typically within one to two months time, a beautiful new Brick by Brick school is completed and ready for incoming students. But Brick by Brick's role is not yet completed. Every travel back to Tanzania includes a site visit of existing schools, interviewing happy parents, talking to our graduates as to how the school has prepared them for Primary School and generally assess the ongoing activities and how the school has affected the entire community. As can be imagined, the parents, family and community leaders are very proud to share their stories of success and what the preschool means as a vital part of their lives and of their future.