Clouds hung low in the sky blocking the view of Mt Kilimamjaro which can be seen from almost everywhere in Moshi, Tanzania. Students, parents, teachers, Mama Hope’s team and others from the community gathered at the newly built St Timothy’s School to give it a proper African opening celebration. As people took their seats the rainy skys gave way to falling ash from the surrounding sugar cane fields. What a surreal picture it painted.
The celebration opened with song and dance from the Shalom Choir; many speeches followed. The elected Parent Representative stood and read a letter from the school board. He stressed that by allowing the community to own the actually development of the school they were able to hire local workers to coordinate and construct the project. They were also able to buy all the materials locally, which truly give them a since of accomplishment and independence. St Timothy’s School was not a foreign imposed project, but a local development that the entire community could rally behind and support he continued. More than 600 local people were employed in the construction process and all the money donated stayed in the community. Moreover, they were able to save significant amounts of money over foreign developed projects by making deals with local merchants.
Personal I was touched by the songs the kids sang to a simple drum beat. (I’ll post some video clips up when I get back to the US.) I could see the weeks and weeks of practice they had put into it. One student named Dorothy made a promise from the students, “our promise is that we will strive for excellence and become powerful leaders who will care for the most vulnerable children in our community when we grow up.” If anything captured a feeling of hope since I have been in Tanzania it was that promise. Once St Timothy’s is running at full capacity 100 vulnerable or “fogotten children” will attend school at no charge. I really appreciate that St Timothy’s will not just support these children, but also strives for self-sufficiency and independence. The staff knows it cannot be dependent on foreign aid so they incorporated multiple income generating activities like a chicken coop and banana farm.
I knew there would be many children at the opening so I came with a big bag of balloons. I thought the line of kids and mamas waiting for a balloon would never end. After one straight hour of blowing up and twisting balloons my cheeks were aching, but the smiles on the kids faces kept me going strong.
If you want to know more about the community identified and developed St Timothy’s School project check out the Mama Hope page at http://mamahope.org/stTimothySchoolFinal.html. I posted some pictures from the days events below. For the next post Bryce and I go to the fields and workplaces of the families of the vulnerable children the school will serve to see what a day in their life is like.