To me, it is bringing a sense of community and inclusivity during these uncertain times. And frankly, what better way to do that than engaging young underprivileged students in their final years at school, who, due to the current covid 19 measures, are experiencing feelings of isolation, fear, and uncertainty.
As parents, we may not fully grasp the effect this pandemic has had on our children psychologically. At an age where social bonds and peer group activities are among the core needs, covid 19 has taken that away from them.
So seeing U TENA come up with a project (Tujifunze) to remind the young adults in Mukuru slums that they are part of the community and give them a sense of belonging was an epitome of service to humankind.
Before the project began, I attended the parents meeting for the Tujifunxe project, which enabled me to see the soul and work that had been put into it hence making me appreciate being part of the organization even more; From alleviating any financial burden, the parents might have thought, i.e., provision of masks, qualified teachers, sanitized spacious classrooms and temperature measurement kits to providing packets milk as an appreciation for their attendance.
Perhaps I'll move to the intricate details of working with the organization as a Biology teacher; The students always arrived energetic and with a great sense of purpose. Preparation for my classes was quite a shift since it helped me scratch an itch I've always had of incorporating practical, real-life situations into my teaching.
I don't know about you but teaching the neural pathways of commonly abused drugs while helping learners master parts of the brain is intriguing; far from the "drugs are bad for you" usual narrative, we got into the scientific details, and you could see students gleaming. This is why my experience with U TENA was such an adrenaline rush because we weren't there to teach but offer life skills to help them transition into adulthood.
If I were to summarize U TENA in a few words, they'd include; Highly organized, transparent with great communication, and nurturing. Maybe this is the whole meal of fish they provided for us during orientation talking, haha.
No, seriously, it was an honor, and it would be an honor to work with the organization again.
God's Blessings upon U-TENA for fighting for the underprivileged in the community.
Author: Usnah Gesare
Usnah is a high school science teacher, stress management trainer and cancer survivor