Unfinished Business in Tanzania

by Maddie Campbell

RPCV Tanzania 2018-2020

My name is Maddie Campbell, and I served in the Peace Corps as a Secondary School Science Teacher in Tanzania. When I was evacuated, I left behind a project I was invested in, students I cared deeply about, and a community I loved.

Water catchment system tanks

At the time of evacuation, I had been working with my community for about a year to write a grant for a water catchment system at the school where I taught. While there already were pipes bringing water, they would cut off for several days out of the week. After logistical obstacles and technical difficulties (shout-out to my laptop spontaneously calling it quits in November), I submitted the grant earlier this year. I had also been working on a handwashing seminar to be delivered to the students in conjunction with the water catchment system. Unfortunately, the seminar was not possible, because one day before the funding arrived in my bank account, the evacuation was announced, and three days after that I had to say “see you later” to my community. However, after some quick planning with my counterpart, we got to town and bought the tanks we needed for the water catchment system. He sent me this picture (right) a week after I arrived home. I’m frustrated that I couldn’t see the project to its completion, but I’m happy I’ve left a physical mark on the school.

Maddie and her students

We took this picture (left) where I’m seemingly drowning under 17 year olds on the day I told them I had to leave. They were very sad, and many followed me after to get my email address, some even crying. Despite this, folks love pictures, so there were a lot of laughs as they piled together. Once students reach “Form 4,” in Tanzania it is their last year of free education; at the end of that year, they will take a national exam that will determine whether they qualify for further education. Form 4A specifically were my stars. Some days, I couldn’t get through my lessons because they had too many questions. Unsurprisingly, this happened frequently during the unit on human reproduction. Now, schools are closed across the country due to COVID-19, and I have no idea what that will mean for their futures, since they do not have the opportunity to continue studying online. These kids really are brilliant, so I can only hope for the best.

Maddie’s path from home to her school

This photo (right) is from the morning I had to leave. I lived right on my school grounds, about a 3 minute crawl to my first class; I took this when I was about halfway up the path, between my house and my school. On the path ahead of me is my cat, Ferguson, or Fergie. When I opened the door to go to work each morning, she would run outside to play for a few hours, but toward the end of my time in Tanzania, she would just follow me to school instead, and sit on my lap in my office. Everyone got a kick out of her attachment to me, and I could often hear students yelling her name while she was outside. Luckily, in spite of how rushed my departure was, I was able to take her home with me, and she can be spoiled forever.