1.BACKGROUND: this is my 4th visit to Don Bosco, Moshi my first being in June to September 2012. On that occasion I was asked to fundraise for them so that the secondary school could have two Science Laboratories. To date we have raised over £10,000 for this account but we still have a long way to go. Over the visits I have contributed in a variety of ways to the life of the school including teaching Mathematics, Bible Knowledge and English. Other activities have included drama productions, sports competitions, sports days and draughts competitions.
During this time there have been two Rectors, three Administrators and two Headteachers but throughout there prevails a deep love for Don Bosco and the mission to the young. I feel very comfortable here and very much "at home" as a Salesian Cooperator who feels called and privileged to work in a missionary way.
2.THE COLLEGE: there are 54 Salesian Brothers studying here for their Degree in Philosophy which is part of their preparation for Salesian Priesthood.(25% increase on last year). Three or four of the brothers are not clerics and they will work as Brothers in the rich field of youth ministry. There are 22 in year 1, 16 in year 2 and 16 in year 3. They come from eleven different countries as follows: Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, Republic of Sudan, South Sudan, Malawi, Sri Lanka and Japan. After their studies here they will go back to their own Salesian Province for 2 or 3 years before returning to Nairobi to start their 4 year course of Theology prior to ordination to the priesthood.
3. THE SCHOOL: it caters for disadvantage children mainly, many of whom are supported financially. However several of the families who can pay have not done so for the last academic year let alone this year which started on 13th January. The fees are equivalent to £360 a year. At the moment only about 50% of the children have returned to school as they are not being allowed in until fees are paid. The school is currently carrying a deficit of over 20 million TZS (Tanzanian Shillings) which is roughly equivalent to £7000.
The nominal roll of 250 students follow a 4 year secondary course with ages ranging from 12 to 22. Even in the same class there can be a wide age range as many cannot continue from Primary school until they have enough money. Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton is currently sponsoring two young people aged 22 and 20 who both have two more years to go. One wants to be a Doctor and one a Banker. They have been performing well and in their Form 2 National Exam they have achieved A Grade with Distinction.
The school day starts with Assembly at 7.55 and finishes at 4.00pm. Given the hours of daylight, many leave home in the morning to walk to school in the dark and return home in the dark later. Given that, it is amazing how clean their clothes are and the first thing they do on arrival is clean their shoes under the water tap prior to assembly.
4.GIFTS TO THE SCHOOL: in the past I have brought stationery items and a set of draughts boards with milk bottle tops for counters. This time after consulting with the Headteacher, Fr. Delphinus, I offered to bring some art equipment as there is no art on the curriculum. The response from my parish of Our Lady of the Portal and St. Piran in Truro, Cornwall,Truro High School for Girls and Truro Arts Centre was overwhelming. Apart from items eg. Paints, brushes, art books etc. Over £800 was donated. This was fortunate because I had to send in advance by DHL two boxes which have yet to arrive! I was allowed 2 x 20kgm cases with Turkish Airways-1.5 contained art materials. I have checked where the boxes are-one is still in the UK and one is in Dar as Salaam requiring custom payment of about £60. Fortunately enough money was donated to pay for these extras but lessons have been learned through this experience.
In addition to the art materials I bought 48 bicycle repair kits from Poundland- a real bargain. We plan to start a cycling club with self help maintenance.
I also purchased from CTS 300 glossy mass leaflets in English which will be a great help at the weekly school mass on Fridays and on Sunday mornings when several people attend the College Mass.
5. CONTRIBUTING TO COLLEGE AND SCHOOL LIFE: for the first time I am having a formal input to the College. As one teacher told me I am now a "Professor" and it comes with a room which is en suite, with a study, hot water and the internet! I teach English to the First Years which is proving challenging but great fun. Four of them I knew as aspirants or pre pre Novices when I first came here in 2012 when they were in Moshi for one month before going to Nairobi for 12 months pre Novitiate training.
At the moment I have been going up to the school each morning for the assembly but have not had any input yet. I have discussed ideas with Fr. Delphinus and hopefully will report on activities later.
6. CHRISTMAS: the decorations have only just been taken down but they were lovely. They had flashing lights everywhere and a very basic crib based on a bed of soil.
7.PROVINCIAL VISITATION: I caught the tail end of the provincial Visitation by Fr Gianni Rolandi, an Italian. In his final report about the community he acknowleged the 12,000 euros that have come in from the UK by way of fundraising for the School Science Laboratories. The entire Community have expressed appreciaition and gratitude for the support to date.They keep us in their prayers.
8. CONCLUSION: I will finish now otherwise you may be wondering did I actually arrive! Please keep me in your prayers as I will you. I do think of you all and thank you for your support so that I am able to do something I really enjoy but also helps other less fortunate than us. God bless and take care