American author, political activist and lecturer Helen Adams Keller (1880 - 1968), who is known as the first deaf-and-blind person to earn a BA degree, is on record as having once said: “I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”
Now, our guess is that Serengeti National Park (Senapa) management and staff think along such similar lines that they are said to have recently resolved to complement efforts by residents of surrounding areas in fighting schoolgirl pregnancies.
It is reported that in partial implementation of the drive, the park has supported the construction of dormitories to house some 300 girls in seven secondary schools in Mara Region’s Bunda and Serengeti districts.
Sources say the thrust of the goodwill gesture, a manifestation of Senapa’s corporate social responsibility, is on helping students in the two districts enjoy equal access to education opportunities irrespective of their sexual differences.
We understand that the park is not the first agency or institution to inject funds into the development or promotion of education or some other sector in Tanzania. Many others have similarly chipped in with financial and various other forms of support, some of the assistance coming to the tune of much more impressive amounts of money.
But anyone with even just a rough idea of the state of schools and the plight of schools across the country, particularly in far-flung areas like the two districts, will appreciate the importance and relevance of the assistance extended to the seven schools.
And those thinking that the park’s intervention will have negligible impact will have to disabuse themselves of the mistaken belief as authorities at one of the schools that have benefited from the support jubilantly and proudly report that Senapa’s intervention has seen the number of schoolgirl pregnancies drop from 50 to four per year on average.
But it would be neither correct not fair to attribute this highly positive and laudable development solely to the construction of the dormitories – or to belittle the part local communities have played in making the endeavour the resounding success it is. After all, we have learnt that residents of the respective areas have contributed some 30 per cent of the 647 million/- spent on the work.
Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations therefore go to the park, to the local and central government authorities, and to those ordinary citizens who were so touched by the ordeals schoolgirls in the two districts have been going through that they join hands to work the mini-miracle all are now fond of referring to as a success story in whose realisation they took part.
We hear that the next phase of the intervention will include the construction of dormitories for male students because they too are in urgent need of better accommodation.
In the Serengeti and Bunda experience we see a rekindling of the self-help spirit of years gone by. It is a wonderful experience with vital lessons.