Doesn’t matter where you went to school, everyone remembers the break time bell and the half hour before it rings, when your stomach is rumbling and minutes seem like hours. Some of our students come to school not having had breakfast, so I can only imagine what they’re thinking when they see the ever smiling face of our porridge lady as she pops her head into the classroom. We don’t have a bell, we have Bibi Uji (direct translation would be Lady Porridge).
Bi Pete, as she is also known has been providing a nutritional porridge for the Nursery students since the inception of the school four years ago. She currently makes enough porridge for the fifty three Nursery children every day of the week except Wednesdays when the kids get their favourite, Tea and Mandazi.
She was born in Matemwe and has been here all her life. She had ten children, eight of whom are still living and has five grandchildren. Two of her granddaughters attend Tamani, one is in KG3 and the other is in KG2, very intelligent girls. Her house is a stones throw away from the school campus, very convenient for the teachers to pass by her house in the morning before school for a quick snack.
She says that unlike other inland parts of Zanzibar, Matemwe isn’t so fertile, so as much as she would love to engage in farming, the harvest isn’t that great. “Even when you plant maize during the long rains, the goats wander into your plot and eat your crops as the land isn’t fenced”. The Sea used to be good as a reliable source of income through fishing, but over time the population of fish has drastically reduced and so the men also have to look elsewhere to be sure to provide for their families, she told me. Providing porridge is an important source of income for her, she also makes traditional Zanzibari bags to supplement it.
We now have Mama Hashim providing fruits and porridge to the primary school students (She has a son in KG3) and Didi Wani (her son attends computer classes after school) through her daughter provides tea and snacks for the teachers. We are one with the village, majority of our staff members come from Matemwe, we therefore aim to support as many of the locals as we possibly can, our success should be there success.