2012/08/06

St. Joseph visitors check in!


One of the greatest gifts of being at Stella Maris everyday is connecting the children with more people from around the world.  To open their eyes to the world and the opportunities they have here because of our school.  They have the tools and now the opportunity to show others how intelligent and beautiful they are.

There is definitely an added element of joy with visitors of the foundation or St. Joseph because of the near decade of caring and love that we have shared with one another.  I can't say enough about the smiles that were brought to the children and visitors, but here are some of their thoughts:

Ed and Barbara Walters
I've been thinking a lot about what stood out for me. I guess I would have to say that although the children live in crushing poverty, their spirits have not been crushed. They are typical children who have all kinds of hopes and dreams for their futures. We are playing a big role in making those hopes and dreams achievable so that the cycle of poverty can be broken for these children. We know that they are God's children and deserving of opportunities for a better life, but there is nothing like seeing their smiles to really drive that point home.

I'm glad I had the chance to experience firsthand God working in and through the children of Mailisita.

Nona and Greta Duba
Our visitors providing vision screening for the children
Our visitors providing vision screening for the children
I was excited by the progress at the project.  It was wonderful to see both the school and guest house in operation.  The best part was the opportunity to be with the children and learn first hand how well they were doing in school and especially their ability to communicate in english.  Both Greta and I are delighted to have been able to join with the other volunteers at Stella Maris.

Dr. Michael Scheer
WOW!  What a difference four years makes.  I was privliged (and I do consider it a privilege) to be part of the Mailisita project in 2008.  At that time the Stella Maris school construction was nearly complete and we were able to help with some finishing and with equipping the first classroom with desks and decorating the walls with first grade English study aides.  Our main construction efforts centered on construction of the Stella Maris guesthouse.  We were helping to build the first floor exterior and interior walls as well as the center supports for the second floor.  For anyone who has participated in construction in Africa you know it is all done by hand.  The construction blocks are solid and each weigh around forty pounds.  Needless to say it is hard work but with the twenty plus volunteers from America the work progresses rapidly for the week that we are there.

Now four years later, the Stella Maris school has three grades and 120 students eager to learn English and to play with us, the wazungu.  And the Stella Maris Executive Lodge is open for business!  It is a full three story hotel that is five star for Africa with wi-fi, satellite cable, a restaurant, and a swimming pool ( just kidding, see the sign).  What a pleasure to be able to stay at the Guesthouse, have a light breakfast and walk a few feet to the school and work site where the children would be enthusiastically going through their morning calisthenics, professing their love for their Stella Maris school and teachers, and praying "all in English".  What a way for us to start each day!

Our rainforest walk in Kibosho
Our work for the week consisted of helping to construct classrooms five and six and great progress was made, and clearing and leveling the play area for the children.  With 120 children in the school they need a large area for play and they love to play.  The second highlight of our day was the first recess for the students at 10:30.  We would already be exhausted from the heavy labor but when the kids run out with their balls and toys and jump ropes, wanting to play with us, it was easy to participate (and take pictures, they love that too).  Don't know where they got them but they had two American footballs as well as two soccer balls.  The older children would throw the footballs with us while the younger children played bunchball soccer.  It was fun to see how the kids would watch us throw the ball and take our instruction and then quickly improve.  They seem to have a zest for life in everything that they do, whether it be throwing a football, chasing a soccer ball or singing in class!

Another beautiful day
Work is work but play is fun!  After recess we would go back to work and the children back to school until lunchtime.  After lunch the younger children would go home, high fiving us or punching knuckles with us as they would walk by.  The older kids would have a second recess and it would be at this time that we would bring out the futbol (soccer) goals and play futbol (soccer) with them.  As a current and former soccer player, my son and I really enjoyed this interaction.  So much so that on the last day an official game was planned pitting the wazungu against the watoto (whites against kids).  This was a highly contested match that saw the watoto take a 1-0 lead.  Fortunately, Michael Jr. was able to perform his magic and tie the score.  The tie was a fitting end to the week with the children and was played on the field that we spent so much time clearing and leveling during the week.

Although the week with the children had ended we still had Saturday and Sunday prior to returning home and this afforded us the opportunity to visit Dr. Allen Minja at the Kibosho Catholic Hospital for a tour of the hospital and a walk through the rainforest jungle in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.  It was my fifth visit to the hospital and it was wonderful to see the progress that has been made since my first visit four years ago.  It was my first trek through the rainforest however.
Can't wait to go back!

Beth Keen
I don't think anyone could spend time there without being profoundly changed.
I was especially impressed by the kind spirit of the children. Working as a school counselor here, I spend tons of time on kids being mean to other kids and I was so amazed to watch the Stella Maris students play and work together.  At recess I did not see any children being excluded or treated unkindly.  We Americans need to learn something from the Tanzanians.

Dave and Glenda Braun
Going to Africa the second time I found was more rewarding than the first.  Seeing the growth in the children, both in size and in the English language was so special.  The once kindergardeners who could hardly say a word of English are now P3 who can communicate in sentences with you.  They are still shy, but very well mannered.  Everyone there made us feel so welcome.  The children made us feel like celebrities when we were around them.  There was always someone, or two or three or four or five who would reach out to hold your hand.  Some of the preschoolers would even kiss our hands.   It was so sweet.

On one occasion I was privilaged to meet the mother and baby sister of Lillian, the girl in P3 we are sponsoring.  When she realized who I was her face lit up and you could tell she was so grateful for our help with her daughter.  It was also special to spend time with them in class, to hear them read, see them draw pictures, or watch them do motions to their favorite songs.  I still can't get their Stella Maris song out of my head, but honestly I don't want to.  I want to remember them singing it forever. -Glenda 


Terry- I could not be happier to be a witness of the amazing impact these guests had on our school.  They made a football field, built two classrooms and brought so many smiles!  It was such an incredible few weeks.  Check back in just a few days, when I will write about last Friday when we closed the school for our August break (well sort of closed).  I will explain further, and tell you all about our wonderful celebration last Friday. Check back soon!

3 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Mulligan,

    We are so excited to see all the new developments at the school. Congratulations on all these accomplishments! Our 3rd grade Girl Scout troop would love to help support you and your students with a service project - are there any school supplies or other items that we could donate to you?
    Please let me know!
    Amy Pagano
    p.s. Isabella was thrilled to see how her books have made a difference for the students. She sends her love and continues to keep you and the students in her prayers.

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  2. fantastic post and Thanks for sharing this info. It's very helpful.
    Guesthouse in Jaipur

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  3. Hey Mrs. Pagano and Isabella, thank you so much for reading my blog and staying in touch! The children absolutely love story books and we can never have enough. They do especially like their brand new ones from Isabella though! I will keep in touch about everything we need. Once our Library is functioning more like a Library I'm sure we will have plenty of needs or at least some direction for donations. Also thank you very much Gopal! Thank you so much for reading and please stay in touch. Let me know if you ever need more information!

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