Our Stories

A life-changing experience for University of Wollongong students

Students and their supervisors from the University of Wollongong (UoW) visited So They Can in Tanzania in June. Over their week-long trip, as part of a cultural immersion subject in their study programs, 12 current students and graduates of Social Sciences, Education, Engineering and International Studies put their multidisciplinary skills to work at Manyara Primary School.

Enrolment at Manyara Primary has increased by 24% as a result of So They Can’s support since 2018. Today there are 551 students (41% girls) enrolled from Pre-Primary to Standard 7, and there are 104 STD 1-7 female boarders. The school ranked #4 out of 137 public schools in the Babati District in the ‘2022 National Primary School Leaving Examination’.

The school’s outstanding academic results are even more impressive given some of the challenges in the school’s learning and teaching and environment. There are only 5 classrooms for the entire school cohort. With great enthusiasm, the UoW student group, equipped with funds raised back home in Australia, set-out to lend a helping hand with some of the school’s pressing infrastructure needs.

‘I was most grateful that we worked with local stakeholders to deliver something that would have a long lasting impact for Manyara Primary School and for the students that come long after the current ones have graduated.’

Harry, 3rd year Engineering student.

On their first day, the UoW group was introduced to So They Can’s team in Tanzania, the District Engineer and the District Education Officer. Together they carried out a site assessment at Manyara Primary School, agreeing on urgent work to be carried out, with a focus on making the girls dormitory a safe environment.

The students worked in 3 groups and had a productive week, they totally transformed the dormitory. Work carried out included:

  • Re-roofing and water guttering 
  • 50 mattresses delivered
  • 50 mosquito nets delivered
  • 12,000L water tank installed, with pressure pump
  • 2 water taps installed for hand washing
  • Brick wall erected around the facility, to prevent wild animals from entering
  • 40ft storage container delivered
  • Flooring installed between dormitory and container

‘For me, the experience was one of the most special in my life. I learnt so much.  Especially to be more grateful for what I have, and not to worry so much about what I don’t have.’

Jordie, 4th year Primary Education student.

‘I am really proud of the work that we were able to do in our short time, but I am most proud of the way the students were so keen to learn from those around them, and make sure that what we did at the school was sustainable and delivered real and lasting impact. 

As a mother of three girls it broke my heart to see how the girls were living. To be a part of their joy, to hold their hands as they walked back into their home and to see their smiles just made my heart sing.  

It has been a privilege to have worked with So They Can in Babati, and the staff and students of Manyara Primary to deliver this project.  We cannot thank you all enough for being willing partners in realising a dream.’

Katrina, University of Wollongong Program Manager


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