February 2017 marked the 13th trip to Tanzania for Harbor Day School Business Manager Joan Coleman. Joan and a team of five women traveled to Tanzania to deliver school supplies and present classroom projects to the students at Mbahe Primary School. The team included Joan’s daughter and HDS parent, Kristen Hatfield and former HDS parent, Mary Mix.
Over the last 12 years, Harbor Day students have supported their sister school and have made a difference in the lives of the students by:
• Building a library and filling it with 2,000 books
• Building a kitchen to serve lunch daily to 500 students and faculty
• Purchasing over 1,000 school uniforms
• Purchasing sports equipment: soccer balls, jump ropes, balls, and bats
• Bringing over 3,500 lbs. of school supplies: backpacks, pens, pencils, crayons, art projects
• Providing scholarships for students to continue on to secondary school
During their trip, each classroom of children greeted them with “Good morning, teacher” and then burst into song. There are about 60 to 70 students in each classroom from kindergarten to seventh grade. Some of the projects students created were colorful scratch art, maps of Africa, colored flags of Tanzania, butterfly rings, and artistic foam prints. They also colored in coloring books made by HDS kindergarteners and recorded measurements with measuring tapes. For the first time, Joan and the team brought Legos with them, giving students the freedom to stretch their imaginations. Mary Mix organized the first annual Mbahe Field Day using soccer balls, Frisbees, jump ropes, wiffle balls, and bats. The energy and excitement could be felt throughout the entire school.
Every year, Joan watches her team members and how they are impacted by visiting this school filled with happy children. She was especially touched this year to see her daughter Kristen fully embrace the children, teachers, and culture of Mbahe and Tanzania. Kristen explains that her transforming experience “was life-changing, and I hope to carry on my mom's work there for many years to come.” The trip may have come to an end, but the experience will last a lifetime.
Joan Coleman has been Harbor Day School's Business Manager for the past 25 years. She is also an alumni parent and HDS grandparent.