Open a School? Don’t mind if we do!

This is sure to be my favorite update so far. After four years of fundraising, planning, negotiating, (struggling), and succeeding – we are so excited to share the news that Amahoro Secondary School is open! There are 70 Form 1 students currently studying in our completed classrooms! Of this cohort, 15 are newly added girls for our Girls Education International Scholarship Tanzania program! We really couldn’t be more happy, excited, and hopeful!

In January 2015, I traveled with two friends to the Kigoma Region. For the first few days, we met with leaders at the district level – planning the opening party, budgeting for the festivities, negotiating PW’s contribution and the government’s contribution, and much more. We visited the site of the school and met with the enthusiastic and proud new Head Master, Mr. Kumenya, as well as the local village leaders who have been working with us since the  beginning. Village ‘Diwani’ (Chief) Patrick Maganga was on hand all week – preparing the final details for the opening, including finishing the latrines, building steps into the classrooms, and staying on top of official business (organizing entertainment groups, arranging the schedule of events, staying in close contact with district leaders, etc.). He is a model of what true leadership should look like! Thank you, Diwani Maganga!!

latrinesOne of the final hurdles to overcome prior to the opening of the school was completion of the latrines. I’ll admit – I was very impressed when I finally saw them! Our top supporters, Shelmina and Minaz are responsible for the completion of the latrines. (Thank you, Shelmina and Minaz!!) The latrines come complete with porceline base toilets and a state of the art system for storing waste – which will last up to 70 years before it has to be cleared out by truck! Not just your average hole in the ground! Of course, our fabulous builder Isaya Lameck brought his A-Game to finish them, and his crew of laborers put in many hours digging deeper and deeper through very rocky soil. It was one of the toughest parts of the overall job!

Amahoro Students DancingThe party was a smash! There were entertainment groups from the village and neighboring towns. They brought in an MC, a DJ, and set up a big tent for the VIP guests. Parties like this are a very big deal for villages and they let it show!

There was a theatrical song and dance performance, dancing by youth hip hop groups, and even some dancing by our current scholarship students. Interspersed with the entertainment were speeches by the village and district leaders. The village exective officer read a speech prepared by Lucas which outlined the timeline of the project, acknowledged the many contributors – near and far, and ultimately celebrated the big opening day!

The District Mr. Maneno SpeaksCommissioner, Ramadhani Maneno gave a big speech about the promise of the future with education at the helm. He told the crowd of over 1,000 that I would be back in the future with volunteer teachers of English, Science, and Math to help build capacity … no pressure! (Any volunteers?)

After all the dance, music, and speeches – they revealed the beautiful Amahoro Dedicationfoundation plaques on the wall of the school. And then – the feast! All villagers and VIP guests were treated to a celebration lunch. Lucas showed that his skills even extend to being an event caterer and food server! He was tireless in his efforts to make sure this entire celebration was a huge success. By the end of the day, needless to say – we were all an exhausted group of planners and supporters!

But enough reading … take a little break from whatever else you have to do right now and watch this video mash-up of the celebration!

Thank you very much to everyone who has collaborated, contributed, and cheered along the way! We’ll continue to work with the leaders and the headmaster to continue this school’s development – building laboratories, finishing additional classroom spaces, and of course – getting the football pitch ready for matches! So – we’ll take you along for the journey for as long as you’ll let us!

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