Saint Ignatius High School

Tanzania Mission Trip: Blog Post No. 3

While on their summer mission trip to Tanzania, Saint Ignatius students are writing reflections on their experience, which we are featuring on a separate blog site. Here's the latest piece from Thomas Staunton '20 on their visit to Kaheusseri, a government-run public school.

Community and Education

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. John 1:7

Today we traveled to kahe village, a secluded area near the border of Tanzania and Kenya. It was about a two hour drive that transitioned from gorgeous new roads, to a bumpy dirt road snaking through the jungle. While being thrown around in the back of the van, I got my first realization of how separate the people of kahe really are from the rest of people in Tanzania.

We were not just going to say hello, but we were completing a mission for Fr. Simon of St. Marys of Parma, a member of kahe village, to supply the church with clothes and the main school with computers. When we arrived we were greeted with open arms, excitement, and food. We were fed a traditional meal, a soup made from beef and plantains. Soon after we continued to the school.

As we arrived at the school named Kaheusseri, a government run public school, we were welcomed to an introductory meeting with the school headmaster. He explained the grading system they use, and the difference between our grade levels. Next we walked into a handful of classes and introduced ourselves. At first I didn’t know how they would react to us, or especially my red hair. When we entered the classrooms we were received with smiles, laughs, and curious stares. In one of the classrooms Mrs. Henderson showed off her Swahilli skills when introducing us, and the classroom erupted into clapter, I took this as them showing appreciation to Mrs. Henderson for speaking in their native tongue.

After our tour of the grounds we were presented with what I could only refer to as an absolute feast. Knowing that the school doesn’t have very much to give, I was honored when I saw that two tables of food and a box full of pop bottles were prepared for just the eight of us. I was extremely grateful for this, knowing that they truly went out of their way to treat us and make us feel welcome.

We then became spectators as they began a presentation of traditional dances. I expected the dances to be serious, but I soon realized I was incorrect. The group of students dancing were being very silly, and the others were dying of laughter. After the show had come to an end, we presented the students with Fr. Simon’s laptops and projectors. The gifts were received with excitement and joy. Now that we had finished our job for Fr. Simon, the only thing left to do was take pictures with the students. As we departed, I had a genius idea to say goodbye which I was sure would bridge the language gap. When  went to fist bump some of the students their eyes lit up, they enjoyed the bumping so much, I was left with a couple pained knuckles. This didn’t make me upset, but rather made me laugh, knowing it was no one’s fault but my own, and because of the smiles and laughs that it caused the students to have.

As we were driving home, I was made aware that our visit was the first time a school group had visited from outside of Tanzania. This explained a lot of the stares I had received.  many of them had probably never seen anyone with hair like me before. After hearing this, I realized that they much more secluded then I ever could have imagined. I was soon reassured knowing that they had great people looking after them like Fr. Simon, their Headmaster, and all of their teachers.

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Romans 14:9