Petra Bernhardt listened for need, and envisioned a future where school children in her home town could help build a sustainable school for children in Mangula, Tanzania.
Petra’s goal was to identify stakeholders and to develop partnerships to enable a community of support for the Forest Zone School of Mangula. As well, she was able to establish an official cooperation agreement between both Würmtalschule Grund- und Werkrealschule, Merklingen, Germany and the Forest Zone School, Mangula, Tanzania allowing for students in both areas to learn the importance of:
- A mutual appreciation for the living standards and culture of industrialized and emerging countries
- A mastery of English as the language for worldwide conversation
- Potential opportunities between countries
The population in this region of Mangula is in desperate need of the very basics of life and students often have nothing to eat outside of school hours. Petra recognized that she would not only need to rally support to improve education in the area, but also to provide sustainable nutrition for the students. To accomplish this, she ran a number of sub-projects and identified government programs that could provide funding for her project. Some of the sub-projects included:
- Creating an exhibition at the biannual Christmas Market in Merklingen announcing the cooperation with the school in Mangula. The exhibition featured a video titled One Day in Tanzania highlighting the challenges facing students in Mangula presented by a teacher from the region.
- Applying for funding from the German foundation Stiftung Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (SEZ) (foundation for development and cooperation in the state of Baden-Württemberg) for a common High Bed Agriculture Project in both countries. Their approach was to educate both children and teachers the importance of planting different seeds and plants to ensure a better harvesting and better topsoil. The project helps to ensure availability of nutrition during the school year for the children in Tanzania.
- Developing a project to build ten solar lamps with grade 10 students in partnership with other non-profit organizations in Germany. The students learnt how to build the lamps during their technical lessons, so it became an element of the STEM curriculum.
Petra has applied her professional skills to many aspects of this project and works along side CCCA in her region to link citizenship programs with this initative. She shared her project management skills with teachers in Tanzania to track the progress and activities related to building new school houses, garden projects and composting. She also used her networking skills to gather community and government support for the project as well as promoting it’s achievements to stakeholders.
She is particularly proud of the active role the students, teachers and parents from Würmtalschule Grund- und Werkrealschule in Merklingen are taking to support their new partner school in Africa. Teachers include agriculture projects in the curriculum intended to get students problem solving the food challenges in Africa. One parent even created art related to Africa to auction in support of the school.