My Dear Friends,
Greetings from Arusha! I hope this time finds you well and the blistering heat waves have reduced a bit. Here in Arusha, it is still a little chilly, but the warmer weather is on its way and hopefully the short rains, too. Everything is very dusty and dry. I am writing to thank you for contribution to Emusoi sent in August. We have been dealing with a rise in the cost of everything as we had to buy supplies for the students as they returned to school in the beginning of the month. A very big expense is bus fare and this year it is especially high. Together with the cost of fuel soaring, we have been dealing with a change in the school schedule due to the National census in August.
For example, our new advanced level students (35 in all) reported to their schools in early June. Then their schools closed at the end of July; they returned to school at the beginning of this month and now we hear they are closing again for mid-term break! These students were placed in schools all across the country. Their bus fare is more than their school fees, contributions and uniforms combined. We are spending thousands of dollars to pay their travel back to Arusha. So your contributions are so helpful!
This is the time that we begin testing and interviewing students for next year. Our staff has planned trips to the villages to test girls there. However, this exercise is quite expensive especially because of distant trips. In the past students came to Emusoi for testing, but with Covid, we stopped this and went instead to the villages. Now we need to evaluate again and see which way is best for us to get the neediest students.
After we finish all the tests and interviews, the students will take their national school leaving exams. If they pass, they will start secondary school next year. If they fail, they just return home, many to be married at the age of 12-13! We can only choose girls from this batch of “failures” for our pre-secondary program of one year. The other girls we choose will attend an intensive 3-month prep course before joining secondary school in January. Our problems is now to await the announcement of the results of the national exams to see who we can choose.
Our students who are in the present one-year prep course are preparing to take entrance exams to join secondary school next year. There are 15 of them, but I think only 12 will pass for secondary school, the others may need to go to vocational schools, since their academic progress is very poor.
When our staff has been visiting the schools in remote areas, they have found some schools where the students were very lethargic. They were very slow in writing the exams and hardly spoke when asked questions during the interviews. I am sure these students were suffering from poor nutrition, and lack of food. They were lacking teachers, classrooms and they were not used to visitors. Their highest marks were in the 30’s while schools in other areas had students scoring in the 70’s and 80’s!
At one school, there were girls who scored well but they were not pastoralists, not our target population. One girl from that school said her father had only one wife (a sign of poverty) and her mother had 9 children, but 4 of the children had already died and she herself had trouble hearing! She was the only one of her family in school.
When we accept students for Emusoi, we help them academically, socially, psychologically and health-wise. All of them gain weight after being at the Center for a few months after getting 3 meals a day! So, know that your donations are helping all these girls in so many ways. You are giving girls a new lease on life and down the line when they finish school and gain a profession, they will be able to help their families, their communities and their nation! Your help will stretch a great way. We keep all of you in our prayers. Please pray for us all and continue to support us.
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. You can also contribute electronically; use this link: https://www.maryknollsisters.org/support-us/donate-now/ Write “Emusoi Center/Sr. Mary Vertucci” in comment/intention field. If any of you would like to receive this newsletter by email, just write me at email@example.com and let me know. Thank you.