She adds: “We are receiving free secondary education but also enriched with technical skills and many more multi studies including computer skills. I feel like I am over the moon…”
That is a moving confession that comes from Pendo Juma, a young learner from Morogoro, as she express her gratitude to her caretakers the Sisters of Mary School Tanzania, based in Makurunge in Coast region.
She was speaking with The Guardian in Kisarawe when her school joined the world to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, on Sunday October 11, 2020, which was sponsored by the IPP Media.
The 15 years girl, is among several daughters from the poorest families in Tanzania that have won favours of the international charity that works to serve the destitute- the Sisters of Mary that originated from South Korea.
Sister Teresa Ladia, Head Sisters of Mary Secondary School Tanzania, is glad that for three years since its beginning, the school is now accommodating 307 girls all coming from the poorest families from different regions all over the country.
She says during the interview that, her school is a place of orphans, daughters born in the families of single mothers, the abandoned, the needy and many other who are destitute.
Sister Ladia, adds that the programme aiming at helping the needy children from the poorest background is working to give hope and physical support to the poorest girls of Tanzania, so that they can feel and have the love of Jesus, which is unlashed to every human being.
“Our mission is motivated by work of Father Aloysius Schwartz, an American Catholic priest, who dedicated his life to serve the poor and disadvantaged children in South Korea, ”she says handling a ‘placard’ of the late Fr. Schwartz.
Father Schwartz formed a congregation of nuns called Sisters of Mary who managed and served the poorest in South Korea in 1964.
As they base their work on the scripture from the Letter of James that the religion that God accepts as pure and undefiled is to look after the orphans, the abandoned children, children of single mothers, raised by widows and widowers ….. the Congregation has built a secondary school in Makurunge near Kibaha township, where more than 300 girls are benefiting.
According to Sister Ladia, their school is for the poorest girls from different parts of Tanzania who are given the place to study and learn technical skills after searches and interviews which are done by the nuns, the District Commissioners (DCs) and the office of the Catholics Bishops in their respective dioceses.
She says after the formal procedures of identification, the school authorities visit the homes of the poorest and carry out entrance examinations and the girls who meet the entrance criteria are given the opportunity and receive everything for free.
“They are given free secondary education, scholastic materials like books, uniforms, they also taught technical education like cooking, dress making, and we will make follow-ups and help them after graduation to find jobs,” says Sister Ladia.
Girls are taught technical education like sewing cloths and dress making to equip them with simple to advanced knowledge on how to make dresses in order to make them part of the clothing industries of Tanzania.
Domestics science is also part of their programme whereby young girls learn cooking skills such as backing and frying. During the International Day of the Girl Child, they produced cakes, breads, biscuits and other eatables which they sold to people who gather at Minaki High Schools ground in Kisarawe to celebrate the occasion.
THE JOURNEY TO TANZANIA
The Sisters of Mary Secondary School in Kibaha is the first of its own kind and one and only in Africa, says Sister Ladia.
The Sisters of Mary Congregation began the charity programme in Tanzania in 2017 and that happened after the Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand and Apostolic Delegate to the countries of the Pacific Ocean, inspired them to start the poorest serving charity programme in Tanzania. They met he was working in Honduras.
“In 2019 we had 150 form one girls, today we have around 307 young learners we envisage many more like 900... It is our first charity in the African continent. We have been working in South Korea, Philippines, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico and now Tanzania.”
A PLACE OF TALENTS
We have realized that girls our young learners have talents, they are eager to learn despite the fact that they are coming from the poorest background, have demonstrated wonderfully skills, says Sister Assela a member of the Congregation of Sisters of Mary.
She was responding to the question what are some good things about their school which she think are remarkable for this two years of their operations. “Our young learners are enthusiastic in learning new things like computer skills, entrepreneurship, have the capacity to communicate many issues and they can understand when they are taught, ask questions and much more have many things to showcase.” Says Sister Assela.
She adds that from the two years of teaching the girls they can say that they have seen remarkable things in them and will continue to help them through quality education so that they grow and accomplish their dreams and futures.
The joyous girls are so grateful to their sisters who have made remarkable things for their lives as one speaks.” We thank the school for raising and educating us, the school is very important to our lives, families and the nation,” says Efrasia Nziku, from Njombe.
“I am so happy I have a safest place where I can learn and study well. If I were in the village it was dangerous perhaps we would have been victims of sexual abuse which would have interfered with our future and our education” observes the young learner.
One of the beneficiaries from Kilimanjaro region, Winfred Evarest, has a message to everybody that, though their guardians –the Sisters of Mary support them they need much larger community support.
“We need many more to join us and extend their supports to the poorest … Many people as possible. We feel that our guardians the Sisters of Mary need support in order to be able to help many more girls from the poorest families.”