Home » Returned Missioners » Tanzanian school for children with disabilities continues to thrive

Recess at Huruma School. Photo by Jerry Fleury

In 2004, together with a group of parents, Bertha Haas (Class of 2002, Tanzania) opened Huruma School in Mwanza, Tanzania, which serves children with disabilities. Huruma is Swahili for “Compassion.” Bertha continues to support the school with fundraising activities. She went back to visit a thriving Huruma School during three weeks in July and August and sent this report:


As Huruma students begin the last two months of their school year, Dickson and Godfrey, pictured here, are transitioning to third grade at the public elementary school to prepare for state exams at the end of fourth grade. After having seen the successful transition of seven Huruma students to the standard 7 class, third grade teachers are eager to welcome these boys and their classmate, Janet. In contrast to six of the previously mainstreamed students who were hearing impaired, these students’ impairments are primarily physical. They will still return to Huruma for their mid-day meals and for any tutoring they may need.

For Gordi, seated at the right, this journey began on May 1, 2005 with in-home physical therapy and language stimulation services. After a slow start, not only has Gordi learned to walk and speak, he has mastered third-grade math, writing and reading. He has strong social skills. Huruma teachers are confident that he will succeed in the mainstreamed class.

Every day of my three-week visit to Huruma in July  and August, we ate produce from the Huruma garden: collard greens, eggplant, bananas or cassava. Although its purpose is to provide work skills for the older students, the garden is also a source of learning, pride and satisfaction for students, staff and parents. In the left photo, Teacher Dotto is using this patch of collard greens for a hands-on nutrition, biology and sign-language class. The trees in the background are banana trees.

One student from the work skills program has already found full-time employment at a vegetarian pizza restaurant in the city. Huruma Director Boni monitors her situation to be sure she is paid fairly and treated respectfully. Nothing is taken for granted.

A quick look at this photo reveals that even when water is plentiful, strenuous work is required to sprout the newly planted amaranth, a quick growing green which is a vital source of B vitamins similar to spinach. The work skills program is officially an afternoon program, but many of the participants come early to help serve student meals and to wash dishes.

Thank you and God bless you,
Bertha Haas

Photos by Bertha Haas. 

Here are a few additional photos taken by photographer Jerry Fleury at Huruma School in May of this year:

Avatar Bertha Haas
Bertha Haas (Class of 2002) served as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Mwanza, Tanzania, from 2003 until 2011.