Friday 11th May- Tanzania Project fund raising Concert, 8pm: a wonderful evening of music including Bach, Brahms, Dussek, Chertok, Henze, Dutilleux and Clarke.
Enjoy performances by Arend Koeditz (‘cello), Lucy Nolan (harp), Douglas Knight (clarinet), Aimée Taylor (flute) with accompaniment by Guy Newbury (piano) and a well priced pint afterwards from the chaplaincy bar! All this for only £5 on the door. All Welcome.
When I heard that the Catholic Chaplaincy at Oxford University was offering students the opportunity to spend a month teaching in a primary school in Mwanza, Tanzania, my initial reaction was one of great excitement. As a person who already had lots of experience of working with children, and who felt called already to become a teacher after graduating, the prospect of involvement in the project was too enticing to resist, despite the fears that inevitably came along with commitment to such an adventure.
Before July I’d never travelled beyond Europe, and the prospect of spending four weeks in Africa was as daunting as it was inspiring. I knew that, whatever else it might end up being, the trip was never going to be easy or straightforward. I was very aware of how far I would be sending myself from the familiarity of home, and I struggled to reconcile myself with the idea of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone when so many other, less challenging options were available to me.
The rewards of challenging myself in this way, however, were great. It would be impossible to describe all of the wonderful experiences that the rest of the group and I enjoyed at Nyakahoja Primary School during our short stay, but I know that I will never forget the evenings and weekends that we spent talking, playing, running, dancing and just hanging out with the children who lived in the boarding house at the school. I feel truly blessed to have been able to get to know so many of those brilliant children so well, and to see how much they appreciated the love and attention that we were able to show to them was fantastic. For people from a country like our own to make the long journey to their school for the privilege of living, working and simply getting to know them clearly meant a great deal to the people in Mwanza, and after a month in which friendships were constantly blossoming and flourishing, all of our goodbyes at the end of our stay were very difficult and emotional.
My actual teaching experience in Tanzania was similarly inspirational and positive. The children’s brilliant attitudes were always carried with them into their classrooms, and I’ll always particularly remember the atmosphere in my very first lesson, when I could hardly believe how intent, attentive and engaged my Year Five class consistently proved themselves to be, despite the fact that there were fifty of them in the relatively small room in which we were working. Their respectfulness and maturity meant that it was always easy to combine learning with laughter and fun.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about our experience in Africa was the almost unbelievable welcome that we received on arrival at the school, and the love and kindness with which we continued to be treated throughout our stay. The Sisters who run the school, as well as all of the other staff and the pupils, were always friendly, positive and caring throughout the month, and we were made to feel very comfortable and relaxed in our unfamiliar environment. The atmosphere in and around the school was always fantastic in a way which defies description.
It was really uplifting to become a part, even for a brief time, of a community that was so tightly-knit, so happy, and so profoundly committed to its Christian, Catholic faith as that at Nyakahoja. Prayer and prayerfulness are a central element of the lives of staff and students alike at the school, and I remember how moved I was when a boy whose birthday occurred while we were there asked if he could lead us and his friends in a prayer before we all started eating the cakes that we had made for him. A similar demonstration of the depth of the faith of the people at the school took place when, on being asked how the huge boulders around Mwanza ended up being stacked on top of each other in the way that they are, Sister Winy replied, as if in disbelief that anyone could ask such a silly question, “God put them there!”
I can never thank the people at Nyakahoja enough for all of their love and kindness over the course of the month that we spent with them, and I’m also hugely grateful to the group from the Chaplaincy with whom I travelled. Particular thanks are owed to Father Simon, who was the unshakeable mastermind and focal point at the heart of the whole adventure. Of course, all of our thanks also go out to all of those who have been so generous in funding and supporting us in preparation for the trip. If anyone is interested in supporting next year’s trip, or even more excitingly in being one of those to go on it, then please do get in touch with Father Simon. He would love to hear from you!
Here is the YouTube video of the August trip to Tanzania!
Trip to Tanzania
Oxford-Tanzania Link The Chaplaincy is linked to the Nyakahoja Primary School in Mwanza, Tanzania. Those interested in fund-raising for a new secondary school and summer teaching opportunities please contact Fr Simon SJ
The feast of St Ignatius, 2010.
St Francis Xavier Church, Mwanza, Tanzania.
happy feast day!
As they say here, on meeting anyone: “How are you?” “We are fine”. I hope you are all well and continuing to enjoy the summer.
The five students from the chaplaincy – Bianca, Charlotte, Dominic, Katia and Nick – and I have been here for four days and it seems like “four-ever”, in a good way, of course! We had a lie-in this morning which made a huge difference to us all. Then we spent the morning and early afternoon walking around one of the local markets on the edge of Lake Victoria with a visit to the local ferry port, accompanied, chaperoned, guarded by one of the sisters, Sr Consolata!
In the afternoon myself and Charlotte and Katia gathered together about 40 of the boarders (there are about 240 who live on the compound during term time, either because they live far from home or are orphans) for some singing. I taught them, you’ve guessed it … the Jamaican Alleluia and they taught us a couple of beautiful Kiswahili hymns. Charlotte taught them a great little song about a happy Kukuburra and Katia a Holy Holy in Spanish – so very international. What a joy to be with such open, joyful and generous children.
Then this evening a beautiful Mass on the roof of the Jesuit community (what a sunset!) with about 50 friends of the community. A wonderful celebration led by Fr Raymond, the Tanzanian superior, who also did his tertianship in Australia – it is a small world! No Australian wine, unfortunately, but some very good local beers: Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Safari!
Tomorrow I’m on the late, English speaking, Mass – 10.15am. The two Swahili Masses are at 6.30am and 8.00am. There are some benefits to speaking English! I will continue to keep you all in my prayers, as I did especially at Mass this evening. Once again, what a blessing it is to be a member of the Society of Jesus. Let’s continue to pray for vocations to the Society throughout the world, but especially in the British Province and regions and let’s pray for one another. Thank you for your prayers and support.
You are all very much in our thoughts. With our love and prayers and African lion hugs! God bless you,
Fr Simon SJ, Nick, Katia, Dominic, Charlotte and Bianca.
PS A memorable phrase someone said to us in the market today. “Welcome to Mwanza! Feel happy and never complain!” They seem to live by their words.
During August Fr Simon and five students will be travelling to the Nyakahoja Primary School in Mwanza, Tanzania. This is the second year that students have gone out to teach for a month and to develop our friendship with the community there. We have also been raising money to help them build a new Secondary School. Thank you to all those who have supported the group with there contibutions and prayers.
The Chaplaincy is developing a link to the Nyakahoja Primary School in Mwanza, Tanzania and has already sent students out there to teach this last Summer. We also want to raise money to help them build a new Secondary School. Information evening this Thurs 29th Oct at 8:00 pm at Pasta Plus
Sister Beata, who runs a Catholic Primary School in Mwanza, Tanzania, is offering an opportunity for a teaching experience in August, 2009. Fr.Roger has already led out a group comprising Martin Pickup, Bonnie Lander, and Marco and Elizabeth Vonhof. Watch out for the report.
To see photos click on: