Initiating a Community Resource and Training Center
In 2017 the International Collaborative for Science, Education, and the Environment, Tanzania (ICSEE T) opened Cypress Hill. Located near ICSEE headquarters, it is a new campus on the southern edge of Monduli in the village of Lachaine.
Formerly the site of a vocational school teaching English and sewing to adult learners, ICSEE received the campus as a donation from a non-profit based in the UK that was ending international operations.
The International Collaborative then renovated the three buildings on campus for flexible use, paid for with additional funds from the English non-profit organization and private ICSEE donors.
Cypress Hill facilities
Cypress Hill covers two and a half acres of flat useful land with three buildings. ICSEE turned one of the buildings into a dormitory to be used for housing during residential educational programs. Furnishings include six rooms with bunkbeds and a common area.
The second building is used as an office. The third building includes two large rooms that are perfect as classrooms. The International Collaborative invested in good tables and chairs and turned the rooms into classrooms for training workshops. In addition, multiple small rooms make up additional offices and the research laboratory.
Meet Mesha Singolyo,
Manager of Activities and Programs
ICSEE Tanzania is very fortunate to have Mesha Singolyo on its leadership team. She serves as Manager of Activities and Programs at the Cypress Hill Institute Campus. Kisioki Moitiko, the General Manager of the Maasai Stoves & Solar Project works closely with her.
Mesha developed her expertise in community services and educational development both through her work in the Department of Community Development of the District Government, and through her education.
She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in gender and community government from the University of Dar es Salaam. Mesha is working towards a second master’s degree in education management and evaluation from Arusha University.
Also leading the International Collaborative program for widows in the Maasai villages, Mesha is overseeing the establishment earning and business opportunities. Read more about the Widows Program.
Cypress Hill facilities are a good fit for training workshops, and ICSEE has already offered many successful events. Here is a sampling:
- Four-day Management Skills Training workshop offered in cooperation with the District Government for the Maasai Chairmen from 60 villages.
- Two-day workshop on inquiry-based teaching for secondary school physics teachers.
- Three-day workshop for Maasai women devoted to solving problems in business initiation and special concerns for women’s health.
- Two-day workshop, led by the District Police Commander given for the Organization of Arusha (the district’s police women). It addressed issues women face in all walks of life, in addition to the special challenges women face in the Police Force.
Computer center and library
In 2019 the International Collaborative converted one of the two classrooms into a well-equipped computer center and library. There are six computers connected to the internet and to a printer.
The ICSEE Library now offers nearly two thousand books in six subject area collections:
- Books related to school subjects for browsing and learning at the primary and secondary school levels
- Textbooks right out of the secondary and primary curricula for teachers and students to move the education in the schools forward
- Books in science, math and history at the college level so that people can see examples of resources for developing advanced understanding
- Nature and the environment
- Fiction to nurture and encourage these interests
- Business management and economics to help people contemplating work in this arena gain confidence and enhance their well-being and financial situations
In 2019 ICSEE held the first Math Olympiad at Cypress Hill. Six secondary schools sent teams of boys and girls—52 students in all.
Great care was taken in preparing the exam questions which were designed to give students a chance to reveal their curiosity and creativity, in addition to the skills that their exams normally measure. Boys and girls did equally well, and found the exam really interesting. They had never seen math questions like these.
The International Collaborative gave the Olympiad for several reasons. It’s important for the campus to become well known for its potential to bring life-enriching opportunities. In addition, the competition illustrated an approach to education that allows fruitful collaboration between math teachers in the schools, and those who are free to bring innovation, like the ICSEE.
ICSEE recognized ten students—six girls and four boys for their best scores. Each received backpacks filled with school supplies. The best score was 37 out of 70 and that was really impressive!
As always, the facilitators learned even more than the students and our learning will be reflected in the next exam created for this purpose.
Community resource center
The ICSEE (T) is in the process of creating a unique and welcoming Community Center. The aim is to maximize the use of this excellent site for ongoing opportunities.
Playground and sports center for young and old
After studying many playgrounds in the United States and in and around Arusha, the ICSEE designed and constructed a flexible playground as a pleasant place for children and their families for relaxing hours. In addition to slides, swings, and climbing structures, the playground offers places to play football, basketball, and netball for the enjoyment of people of every age.
Cypress Hill restaurant
Participants can enjoy restaurant meals , snacks, and drinks served in the ICSEE restaurant, right on the Cypress Hill premises. It is open to those using the facilities and their friends and family. Proceeds cover part of the costs for staff and maintenance.
Membership and employment
Participation in the Resource Center is on a membership basis which is open to all. The full-time staff administers the membership programs and ensures the facilities are used fully by those participating in it. Members pay a small family or individual fee to cover a portion of staffing and maintenance costs.
Improving lives in East Africa
Before Cypress Hill became part of the ICSEE(T) it was a vocational school was in the process of finishing classes and closing down. The school had offered tailoring, and we received 20 pedal sewing machines along with the buildings.
We decided that these machines would be best in the hands of women who really wanted to sew. We thought some might want to start tailoring businesses for themselves. The Project hired a technician to inspect and repair the machines. We located Lashaine women who wanted to become tailors, or improve their existing sewing skills. These women had clear aims, and the confidence and experience to initiate related businesses. The Project provided training led by an expert tailor.
Upon completion, each woman received her machine as her “diploma,” delivered right to her home. Many started businesses. Here is the story of one of the graduates:
A path to sew
Adela completed seventh grade and wanted to continue learning. But because her father was already planning her marriage, she could not go further. But Adela loved to sew.
But she managed to escape the marriage and ran away to Arusha town. There she worked as a housemaid. When her employer noticed that Adela was interested in designing and sewing clothes, she took her to a tailoring course that she could attend while still working.
“After I completed the course, I used the money I had earned as a housegirl to buy a sewing machine. Because I had spent all my savings, and didn’t have more to pay rent, I decided to go back home and start sewing. I joined other fundis and shared an office for the business.
But the machine I bought failed after just one year. And I’ve had to rent another machine for 25,000 Tsh a month (about $12)
But now, with the help of ICSEE, I have my own machine. I can’t believe it. Thank you for enabling this. I promise I will take care of it and work hard to realize my dream. Ahsante sana! ”