Greetings from Sr. Mary
Greetings from Tanzania. I am writing to thank you for your generous donations sent in December. They were truly Christmas gifts to us and enabled us to buy all the necessities that our girls needed to begin school.
This year, we sent 46 of our pre-secondary students to Form I in private secondary schools. However, there was a big change in government policies this year. Ordinarily, each year we accept 50 girls for our pre-secondary course. The government has now said that students need to go directly to secondary school after completing primary, class 7, if they have passed their Standard 7 exams. Many of the girls whom we accepted into Emusoi passed their national exams, but they failed our entrance exam. This does not bode well for them in secondary school. We fear that without our remedial year they will not do well and end up failing.
We were faced with a dilemma- do we send these girls off to fail or can we negotiate and find another path. We met with the Education officers from the regions where our girls are from. We were advised that we can take the girls who failed their national exams and ask for others as special cases. For example, one of our new students has a club foot and she has never been treated. We have brought her the Center for Disabled in the Arusha Archdiocese and she is being treated. So she is able to postpone beginning secondary due to her physical problems. Another girl, who is an orphan and lives with her grandmother, was assigned to a school near her home, but she can hardly read and write and we are afraid that she could be kidnapped and married off by force since she is so close to home. It would be hard for her grandmother to protect her if her brothers wanted her to marry.
So, we were able to remain with 22 pre-secondary students instead of 52. The other girls were sent off to school. Some who scored well on our exams were placed in private schools and the rest went to the government schools where they had been assigned. This meant that we had to prepare 49 girls for school who were not on our budget! We had purchased all the needed supplies (trunks, mattresses, sheets, blankets, hoes, buckets, etc.) which were needed for 46 per-secondary students, but we had to do major shopping again for all these new students! We spent more than $30,000 on preparing all these students. The girls were so happy to receive all these supplies. They never had so many new things at once in their lives. They spent hours packing and repacking, admiring their new shoes, track suits, uniforms, etc.
All are now in their secondary schools and we are beginning to teach the new ones in pre-secondary. They began classes today; they were so eager to begin studies that they awoke at 4 am and were in the classroom by 7.30 am. Their classes normally begin at 8.30!
In early January, the results of the National Form II exams were announced. Our girls did well with 29 scoring Division I, 14 Division II, 16 Division III and only 7 Division IV. Hopefully, they will continue studying hard so that they score as well as this in their Form IV national exams.
Last week, the Form IV results were announced. Thirty out of our 55 graduates obtained Division I-III. These girls will all qualify for further education. Twenty-three obtained Division IV and two failed. Soon these girls will be returning to Emusoi to see what courses they can apply for and to see if they have been selected for advanced level studies. They will join further studies in July or October. And so the cycle continues. Our students in Form VI of advanced studies will be taking their national exams in May and then hopefully joining University in October.
Your generosity gives us the ability to help these young women. Many are orphans, with one or both parents deceased. Some parents have died from AIDS or related diseases; other students themselves are HIV+. We have several girls recovering from TB. Part of our work is to make sure these girls are taking their medications and getting extra nutrition to build them up. Again, your donations are what is helping these girls. It is difficult for you to know the impact your help is making on the lives of these girls and their families, but please believe when I say that you are changing their lives. May God bless you for all you are doing. Our students remember you in their prayers everyday.
Sr. Mary Vertucci
Note: All donations should be sent via Maryknoll Sisters, Box 311, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311. Checks need to be issued in the name of “Maryknoll Sisters”, with “Emusoi Center” written on the memo line. Please include a note designating the gift for Emusoi Center, Arusha, Tanzania. You will receive an acknowledgement from Maryknoll which can be used for tax purposes. I will also send you a thank you from here. If you do not hear from me, let me know about your donation. It will take 2 months or so for me to get news of your donation. You can also contribute electronically. Check out the “donate” page on our website. If any of you would like to receive this newsletter by email, just write me at email@example.com and let me know. Thank you.