This wasn’t any other call; a family member had called him to inform him about a school bus accident that had claimed the lives of 33 pupils of Lucky-Vincent Primary School.
“I was shaken; I had to abandon the meeting knowing that my son had been on his way to Karatu for academic purposes…I was anxious to know if my son was among the dead,” explains the tearful parent.
Mwayambi’s colleagues had to arrange a chartered flight for him, after having learnt of the shocking news.
The TAA officer confirmed his fears upon arriving in Arusha, Praise Roland was among the dead.
“I’m still lost for words…he was a quiet boy and very ambitious. He wanted to become a Catholic Priest,” the visibly shaken Mwalyambi said of his son.
According to the bereaved parent, Praise, the second born in a family of three, was serving as an active altar boy at the Holy Trinity Parish in Kwa Moromboo area, a clear demonstration of who he wanted to become.
“He wanted to join college first and later become a priest.”
A week before his untimely death, Mwalyambi says, they had processed entry forms from Maua Seminary in Kilimanjaro as preparation for him to pursue his dream.
Unfortunately, death cut short Praise’s dream and wish to become a priest.
Mwalyambi still recalls how the deceased would always bring out a smile from family members.
“He was heaven sent…we are ever thankful to God for giving us Praise,” he said.
Mwalyambi says Praise will be laid to rest in Mbeya after the public viewing and paying of last respects that will take place at the Sheikh Amri Abeid stadium today.
The family of Ntegeyaje Augustino was in deep grief when this paper paid them a visit.
Women were wailing in disbelief, while the men spoke in hushed tones about the death of their precious son.
They couldn’t come to terms with the loss of their son.
Ntegeyaje’s father, Augustino Amos, struggled to hide the tears streaming down his face.
On the drizzling morning of May 6, his mother escorted him to school before he boarded the bus for his final journey.
Three hours later news started filtering in on the accident that robbed the family their precious son.
“I spoke to him last Thursday and he told me about the upcoming academic trip to Karatu… he was very excited about it,” recalls Augustino, a Tanzania Postal Bank officer based in Manyara Region.
He says that he asked his wife to make necessary preparations to ensure that Ntegeyaje was part of the academic trip.
“I always wanted the best for him and that is why I asked my wife to prepare him for the trip, but it is very unfortunate how it ended. Little did I know that I was speaking to my son for the last time.”
Just like Mwalyambi’s family, Augustino is also waiting for the regional government’s arrangements before they bury their son.
At the Mt Meru regional Hospital Moses Kivuyo cuts a forlorn figure as names of the deceased are read at the Mt Meru Hospital’s morgue.
He is in pain because he had spoken to his daughter, Irene Moses, moments before she was about to be taken into the Karatu Lutheran Hospital theatre.
Moses, an employee with the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) in Kahama, was attending a training at the Arusha Technical College (ATC) when he heard that his daughter had been involved in an accident.
He had to abandon the training and hit the road to Karatu, hoping to see his daughter.
The Arusha-Makuyuni stretch seemed longer than usual for him as he rushed to Karatu.
“Words cannot explain the situation I was going through that moment. I became more and more nervous,” recalls the now father of two.
Moses arrived in Karatu town in an hour hoping to see his daughter.
Before he disembarked from the car, he received a call; it was Irene’s voice, sounding in serious pain.
“She was crying, telling me that she wanted to see me first before she was wheeled into the theatre room,” says Moses.
Moses was not so lucky.
Irene passed away before Moses got to the Hospital.
“She had a huge wound in her head, at least I got to see her as she died,” says the tearful parent.
Earlier on, Lucky-Vincent School was engulfed in a somber mood as teachers and parents tried to grapple with the deaths of the 36 people, that included two teachers and a driver.
Teachers and other school officials were seen running up and down as they tried to calm some inconsolable parents.
As we went to press, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan and a host of ministers were expected to arrive at the school to comfort the grief-stricken parents.