“Education is the door to a brighter future!”
I do not know who coined that phrase, but throughout the many years of working in the mission office, first in record keeping and bulk mail processing, and then assisting with correspondence and modern day data entry, I have been blessed with excellent teachers who shared their wisdom and knowledge with me and prepared me for the ministry I was asked to take over in 1994.
The phrase above applies even more to people in developing countries who have been deprived from attending school, primarily because there were no school systems in existence similar to the ones in America or Europe. Missionaries realized that evangelization also includes helping people to brighten their future through education.
Wherever we Missionary Benedictines serve, we also are involved in education on all levels. Today I wish to bring your attention to a project in Ndanda, Tanzania, that deserves financial help. Since the early 1960, Ndanda Abbey operates a Trade School where practical and theoretical learning goes together. This dual system has proven to be successful. Ndanda Trade School is one of the oldest in the southeast region of Tanzania. The school was officially recognized by the government on June 29, 1966. Graduates of our schools usually find employment without difficulties, thanks to their well balanced and high standard education and training in their trade.
The Ndanda Vocational Training Center can accept up to 200 students. Working with the monks and attending class on given days makes up the weekly routine. Many of the students come from a distance and cannot commute daily. There is no public transport. Therefore Ndanda Abbey early on provided dormitory housing for male students. With the increasing number of girls attending the school a new boarding house needs to be built on campus, integrating use of the kitchen and other common facilities of the trade school.
Br. Sixtus, O.S.B., director of the Trade School reports: All workshops are well equipped with tools and machinery and monks of Ndanda Abbey are in charge of each department. We put high emphasis on work ethics and discipline throughout the four years of training.
Day students have to pay an annual fee of approx. $100 while residents of the hostels pay $200. Many students have a hard time coming up with the fee and Ndanda Abbey provides scholarships.
At this time there are 179 students attending the Ndanda Vocational Training Center. Interestingly, the 8 popular trades taught at Ndanda Vocational Training Center and number of students enrolled in the courses:
Trades Girls Boys Total
Computer & Secretarial Science 32 00 32
Carpentry & Cabinet Making 2 50 52
Electrician 2 6 8
Bricklayer/Construction 2 34 36
Printing 2 8 10
Welding 0 14 14
Plumbing & Installation 0 10 10
Automobile Mechanics 0 17 17
TOTAL 40 139 179
A group of laypeople, friends of Christ the King Abbey in Meschede, Germany, has made it a priority to finance the new girls hostel but so far could only come up with 50% of the amount needed for construction of the facility. At the last procurators’ conference in April, I volunteered our friends to assist with the project, trusting that together we will support education and projects that better the life of young people. May I be bold enough and invite you to help us with the much needed funds of $75,000 to complete the dormitory with 16 rooms, configured for three students each? Any amount that is above the goal to complete construction and providing furnishings will go towards the scholarship fund for girls who wish to attend the Ndanda Vocational Training Center. My dream (and prayer) is to raise $100,000 so that excellent education can be provided, especially for poor teenagers.
On behalf of all the monks at the Benedictine Mission House, and in the name of our confreres in Ndanda, Tanzania, I thank you for your anticipated help.
Prayerful good wishes and God’s blessings!
Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.