Greetings from Sr. Mary
Greetings from Arusha. I am writing to thank you for your donation to Emusoi sent in August. I am sorry that I am a little late in acknowledging it but we suffered the loss of one of our sisters and we have been very involved with funeral arrangements.
On Sept. 10, I received news in the evening that Sr. Jean Pruitt died suddenly. She was visiting friends in Karatu, which is about 2 hours north of Arusha. Sr. Jean was a legend here in Tanzania, working as a missionary for almost 50 years. She made a huge contribution to the development of art and culture in Tanzania and also worked for the rights of children. She founded a Center (Dogodogo Center) for street children, encouraged young artists, defended the rights of vulnerable children, worked for peace-building and many other ministries.
We in Arusha were the closest to where she died, so we dealt with the transport of her body to Arusha and then eventually to Dar es Salaam, where she lived. Her funeral was held in Dar and the government asked to be able to honor her for all she contributed to Tanzania. Hundreds attended; it was a fitting tribute to her.
Sr. Jean also worked with us at Emusoi and was instrumental in helping us to get our book, Emusoi-Maasai Girls Tell their Stories written and published. For a number of years, we also shared funding with her street children Center. We thank, Jean, for the part she played in the development of Emusoi. She will be missed by so many people.
In the morning of the same day that I got word of Jean’s passing, I was told that I had a visitor at Emusoi. When I went, I found Agnes, her mother and her daughter. Agnes was one of the students Emusoi educated and she graduated from University in 2012. Agnes has an interesting story.
In the Maasai culture, a woman who has not or cannot gift birth is often given children by friends or relatives. There are certain rituals that are done and this child is now considered this woman’s child. Agnes was such a case, given to her mother. Agnes’ father on his deathbed said that Agnes should not be married but she should bear children in his name. When Agnes finished primary school, she was not able to go to school, but she bore a child. When this child grew a bit, Agnes mother said now Agnes had fulfilled the wishes of her father and there was not longer any fear of a curse, so she could go to school now.
Agnes and her mother and the baby left the village and went to the district offices to see how Agnes could go to school. There they met a secretary, Leah, who was a former student of Emusoi. As she explained her situation, Leah told her to go to Emusoi and find Sr. Mary. So one day in October, Agnes, her mother and the baby arrived on the steps of Emusoi. We accepted Agnes into our pre-secondary program even though she was late.
At that time, we had one of our sisters, Sia, who is a Tanzanian and who was in the Admissions process then living with our community. She is a teacher and was working at Emusoi as part of her ministry experience. Before joining Maryknoll, Sia had taught math at a very good school, Kibosho Girls. She advised Agnes to take the entrance exam at this school. So soon after Agnes joined Emusoi, she went to take the exam. There is great competition to get into this school, more than 1000 applicants vying for 180 places. Agnes did not score high enough to get accepted, but Sia talked with the Headmistress encouraging her to accept Agnes. Sia said she is intelligent and she can cope in school; I know since I am teaching here. Agnes got in; she succeeded well and even went on to University.
So 5 years after graduation, Agnes came to say thank you for her education. She is now married and has 4 boys (includes one set of twins). She is working for an NGO which is helping the Maasai community and she is also educating about 6 or 7 of her young relatives. She says she hasn’t yet been able to help Emusoi because of her obligations to her relatives. But she said if I wasn’t helping them, they would be coming to Emusoi! Agnes, also, took the opportunity to give some encouraging words to the young girls here at Emusoi. They listened carefully to her.
We are always glad when graduates come back to visit at Emusoi. They are wonderful role models for our students; showing them that it is possible to succeed in school, get married and get employment. Many of our graduates are giving back to their communities in the positions that they have. I thank you all for your contributions because they and you enable us to do this work. Your support keeps us going. Thank you so much. You are in our prayers every day.
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. EMAIL ADDRESSES: If any of you would like to receive this newsletter by email, please send me your address.