“Arise, for it is your task” (Ezra 10:4)
23/1/19 rainbow school parents attend seminar on CHALLENGED CHILDREN’S right to health services
SEKOMU has coordinated a seminar for parents of Irente Rainbow School pupils through the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies, International Relations and Linkages. The seminar took place on Tuesday 22nd January 2019 and aimed at creating awareness on health services to persons with disabilities among parents. Irente Rainbow School invited facilitators, offered venue, lunch and refreshments. Parents were informed about the right to free health care that children with disabilities have according to the country laws. Having acquired awareness, parents agreed to register their children under the social welfare authorities. Soon, the pupils will enjoy their basic right to health care as other citizens of Tanzania.
Once again, parents of pupils at Rainbow school have acted jointly for the benefit of their children!
Meanwhile, beans that were sown by the parents some months ago are almost ready for harvest.
Umoja ni Nguvu – Unity is strength!
27/11/18 STANDING TOGETHER AS PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
“Arise, for it is your task!” These words are painted on the front wall of the assembly hall at Irente Rainbow School. This school was opened in January 2005 with the aim of giving children and youths with autism and cognitive disabilities an opportunity to go to school and acquire knowledge in their own terms. In 2006, the school started an outreach programme to support children and youths with similar challenges who live in Lushoto district and other parts of Tanga region. Five years later, a pre-school unit was opened for non-disabled children.
Rainbow has been running for 13 years. During those years, two male pupils with cognitive disabilities have been employed in Lushoto. A few others have joined regular primary schools. Some pupils stopped attending school for various reasons. Currently, the school has a total of 41 pupils. SEKOMU students who study Special Education at Bachelor level and specialize in Cognitive Disabilities and Autism acquire practical training at Irente Rainbow School. Likewise, 2 or 3 students from Queen Maud University College in Norway come to Tanzania each year to conduct their practical training at Rainbow.
Financially, Irente Rainbow School depends on the NED-ELCT. Part of its budget is supported by partners in Germany. Teachers are paid by the government. Recently, the District Council started to provide food for the pupils. Yet, the school needs to find ways of sustaining its services.
On 1st of August, 2018, parents of current and former pupils at Irente Rainbow School decided to form a forum for their joint action. The forum has four objectives:
a) Supporting the school in its strive for quality service and sustainability
b) Supporting each other through sharing of ideas and experiences
c) Learning new skills together
d) Initiating and maintaining communication with parents of pupils with similar challenges in other parts of the world.
Through the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies, International Relations and Linkages, SEKOMU supports Irente Rainbow School parents’ forum mainly by advising the parents on income generating activities that need none or very little capital investment and helping them to make short-, medium- and long-term plans. Currently, 25 parents are active in the forum.
The first step taken by parents has been to plant 50 banana plants (migomba) in the school farm. In two years time, these will start yielding fruits. The school will harvest bananas for pupils’ meals and for selling. Parents cleared the area, prepared the holes, brought compost and planted banana plants. They continue to take turns in ensuring that the banana plants get adequate water. Between the banana plants, parents have sown beans for their own consumption. The banana farm will therefore always be clean and tidy.
As parents were preparing to dig 50 holes for the banana plants, they had very good help from a volunteer from Sweden who has been working at Irente Farm. His name is Filip Jönsson – or “Filipo” as he popularly came to be known – and he helped to dig 11 holes! The Rainbow parents thank “Filipo” very much and will continue to honour his support to this important work.
Being instrumental for practical training of SEKOMU students, it is in the university’s interest to ensure that Rainbow school continues to help challenged learners and eventually become self-sustaining. We commend the parents who have decided to “arise” in line with the school’s motto. You are welcome to join the efforts of Irente Rainbow School parents’ forum for joint action in working for the longevity of the school and its mission.