St. Joseph visits Stella Maris!

Becky Reilly with the children
It’s amazing what these children have inspired.  Our guest house is now full with every room occupied and some carrying extra beds just to hold everyone!  Here we are with 27 volunteers all with one goal: help these children.  The people of St. Joseph and friends are spread out doing many different activities, leveling books for our library, doing art crafts, working with small groups teaching reading, leveling a football field to play on, building classrooms and just playing with the children.  Just today one of the guests said “it’s amazing how every day we become more comfortable with one another”.  Our two countries have been intertwined for nearly a decade and with every visit we become closer.  I can see it in the children and every person here, because we are all working with the same goal.  Everyone is using their talents and frankly busting their humps every day to improve the lives and education of the children to provide “hope through education”. 
Our Kili climbers visiting the children
We all love these children, and their energy is contagious.  One of the most fun parts of my job here is connecting people with these children.  Just last week we had two young American climbers visit our school after spending the night at the lodge.  They said that outside of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro their best experience was playing with the children at Stella Maris for half an hour!  With every visit I become more excited to share the story of our school and hotel, but the visitors from St. Joseph are extra special visitors.  After working together for 8 years we are finally able to stay together at our hotel (for the first time) and volunteer right at the school.  Just a day after stepping off the plane each of our guests waste no time in greeting the children and beginning their service work.  They are urged on and encouraged by their smiles and talking in English with them!  The children try so hard to stretch their knowledge of English and communicate with the people of St. Joseph to learn as much as they can about our guests.  The motivation they get from these guests cannot be overstated.  They receive so much attention that every child comes away feeling so loved and feeling like the “Star for a day”.    This motivation lasts and their presence is felt in the added drive of all the students to work harder and speak more English all the time.  I never really figured it would be such a benefit to our instruction to have guests, but it truly motivates our entire school community every time we welcome new guests.

John and Priscus
In third grade Information Communication and Technology we are working on writing letters, preparing to write letters to St. Joseph and to our sponsors.  We had an especially proud moment when one of the children here, Priscus took the initiative to write a letter to his sponsors the Sheer family after meeting them again this week playing soccer together.  The Sheer family have sponsored Priscus for three years and Dr. Sheer and his son Michael are here together working hard building and leveling a large playing surface for the children.  Initially I thought it was odd that Priscus was so shy, but I realized why he was after receiving a note from the Sheers.  Immediately after meeting them he whispered to me “I will write a letter at home”.  He went home and wrote a great letter thanking them for their help in making “the classrooms and for making the football field flat” and asking them to greet their entire family even listing their names from memory.  I realize how truly blessed I am to be witnessing and sharing in these connections and watching these connections grow and become stronger on a personal level.  We in fact have many visitors here who sponsor children and families here asking me “how do I become a sponsor?” shortly after meeting the children. 
With all the visitors, we know come many fun lessons.  This week we have had many great art projects and gifts from all the St. Joseph families.  I would prefer them to write about their own experiences later, but I wanted to share a moment I had with a second grade student Margaret.  She received a nice pink snap bracelet.  After reading books with her after school one day I was walking to the street to help her cross.  She showed me the snap bracelet and snapped it around my wrist.  When I tried to give it back to her she said “No!  I want it for you because you give me everything.”  I told her “thank you so much, but I would be happy if you had it.”  Margaret replied “No Mr. Terry you give me all, I want to give this to you, I love you.”  There are no words to describe my happiness, joy and pride in writing this.  It is so special to have children that you know are going to do great things.  She is intelligent, driven and above all has a loving heart.  Even after being given a great gift, she just wants to show love and thanks.  We have a bright future at Stella Maris and so many of our children will grow and continue to make us all proud… Soon I will have a post from all the families here sharing their thoughts and highlights from their week.  Also hopefully I can upload some video from one of our favorite highlights: The America vs. Tanzania soccer game!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Terry, It just keeps getting better and better. Be so proud. You are giving so much to these children. Although, I am guessing your heart is filling daily with so very much that receive from the children. Pat K.