News from Rwanda

Second Phase of the Secondary School Construction

Again we have proven that anything is possible when people join forces and unite their hands with even the smallest amount of goodwill. We have realized the dream of our late brother fra Vjeko Ćurić for our Kivumu Parish here in Rwanda. We have built a high school! Although we are not done yet, a great deal of work and effort is now behind us.

 

We have built and furnished the first building of the future school, spread over 800 square meters with 11 classrooms and sanitary facilities. We have also built two huge water tanks to collect rainwater for the needs of the school, because there is no water system in the village.

This dream of ours began to take shape more than two years ago when I was visited for a third time by my journalist friends, the married couple, Željko and Maja Garmaz. They offered to write a book about my life and my missionary journey. And they offered to use all the money from the book’s sale to fund the construction of the school!

“Well, why not?” I answered, because the idea seemed interesting to me, although – to be frank – I wondered who would want to read a book about a life of a Franciscan who had been living in the African wilds, in villages without electricity and water for more than 20 years...

For one month Željko and Maja were my “shadow”. They followed me everywhere I went. They made me tell stories about my life, about everything I’d gone through during my missionary work in Africa. Nowadays I often joke with them and tell them that they were a real nuisance during that one month. Of course, the atmosphere had always been great, and everything we did was drenched in humour. In the end, their effort paid off big time! The book, entitled “Our Man in Africa” (“Naš čo’ek u Africi”), started a real avalanche of goodness! All that followed has been like a dream.

The goodness of people who helped us build this school through their donations is honoured on the classroom doors, where you can find the coats of arms of the places where the people who helped us live.

I am endlessly grateful to people from all parts of the world, because their response to the fundraising action for the construction of the school has been massive. We could never have made it on our own. What the local children will gain through the chance to get further education for free is priceless. You see, through my long missionary experience, I have realized, and try to put it into work - that education is the only chance for survival and progress for the children of Africa. These children don’t need charity; they need to be taught how to fight for a better future for themselves.

The lessons in the first school building will start with the new school year, which starts in January in Rwanda. Currently, we are negotiating with the Rwandan authorities which programs are to be offered in our new school.

And yes... this doesn’t mean that we are all done. On the contrary, we are just starting. According to the project, the school is to consist of two buildings. And now we have to complete the building and furnishing of the second building as well. As before, we can do this with your selfless help.

The second school building is going to be a bit bigger. It will spread over 900 square meters with 7 additional classrooms, a computer room, a school library with a reading room, teacher’s room and additional sanitary facilities.

One day, when it’s all finished, the school will be able to take in as many as 1,000 students. Secondary education in Rwanda lasts for six years. Since we cannot enroll all 1,000 students in the first year, every year 150 to 200 students will be registered, and as time passes, and the younger ones keep pouring in, so will the school’s capacity increase.

For the youth of our village, of around 35,000 inhabitants, this school will represent a potential way out of poverty… Many of them are exceptionally bright, intelligent and talented, but, unfortunately, they were never given a chance to get an education. One year in Rwandan secondary schools costs 300 euros, and it takes six years to finish the secondary school. Their parents, who didn’t have the chance to go to school, cannot afford it. Many go to work for a daily wage of less than one euro for a whole day spent digging… Up to now, going to school, for the children of Kivumu, has been an unattainable dream. We will try to change that.

Thanks to your steady help through donations, the Charity organization “Heart for Africa” which is active in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the “Church in need” organization from Germany, we have managed to raise enough money to be able to build the foundations of the second building and also two big school storage rooms. This summer we were also helped by my protégé Joseline (the protagonist of the first chapter of “Our Man in Africa”) and her husband Tomas, who demonstrated their African drumming and dancing skills at humanitarian concerts held in Sarajevo, Tolisa, Lepenica, Kiseljak, Kreševo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Zadar and Osijek in Croatia.

We hope that eventually we will raise enough money to complete the construction and furnishing of this second school building. In fact, we don’t even doubt that we will manage to achieve this goal of ours! Because, thanks to you on many occasions, now we believe that anything is possible!