We have written about the successes of the students studying tailoring, carpentry, business enterprise as well as academic subjects at the only Vocational Training Centre for Deaf Learners (VTCD) in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. But what about the VTCD’s site, structures and long-term plans?
Gift bears fruit
The transition from a plot of land gifted by the local community to a thriving training Centre with enthusiastic students, and the expansion of the Centre’s facilities and the opportunities it offers. This is what the determination and vision of the Board of Management at the VTCD, the students and the donations from many supporters and organisations have made possible so far.
It has always been planned that the Centre should become self-sustaining, while at the same time keeping its fees as low as possible, so that deaf students from all backgrounds can have the chance to gain skills for employment. As new funds have become available through fundraising here in the UK, the VTCD’s Board of Management has been eager to trial new sustainability projects.
The first solar panels were installed last year, generating electricity and light to enable the students to communicate in sign language in the evenings – in a country where it is dark for twelve out of every 24 hours. The electricity generated reduces the need to use kerosene lamps, both saving on expensive fuel and ensuring a cleaner and safer source of power.
Water harvesting tanks have also been installed on many of the Centre’s buildings. These tanks provide plentiful supplies of water during the rainy seasons and help conserve both the drinking water drawn from the borehole and the energy consumed by the borehole’s water pump, as well as helping avoid the need to pay for mains water supplies.
Income and nutrition
The Centre continues to develop its large vegetable plot on site and also has additional land which yields crops for the staff and students daily, as well as enabling the sale of surplus products to the local community. This in turn encourages interaction between the deaf students and the community.
We have reported on the poultry rearing project at the Centre and to date over 21,700 eggs have been laid! These are used to supplement the students’ diet and are sold to generate income. It is worth noting that the water harvesting tanks provide the water needed to keep the chickens healthy and laying eggs.
Signal will continue to support the VTCD to enable its transformation into a truly independent training unit, and we are working together with the Centre and our local partners Childreach Tanzania to investigate environmentally friendly solutions to achieve this.
Plans are being drawn up to erect new toilet facilities to cope with the growing numbers of students and to build in a biogas system. This system would be able to produce fuel for cooking, thus reducing the costs and environmental impact of the firewood currently used.
Further income generating projects are also getting underway, including rearing more livestock in order to sell meat and hides and secure additional nutrition for the students.
Plant a tree?
The latest idea from the Centre is to plant fast growing fruit trees around the site, including some which might seem exotic here in the UK. Mango, paw paw, orange and avocado trees are planned to produce fruit both for sale and for eating. They are also intended to create more shade at the site.