Wednesday, January 7, 2015
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.” — Allan Bloom
The Principal (Dean in the U.S.) of the Bunda Teachers College dropped by today with a friend to personally thank us for all the scholarship help we have given to the school over the last nine years. We only administer the funds that come from generous Methodist givers in Arkansas. At first, all the scholarship money came from two churches in Eastern Arkansas, but now, it all comes from Cornerstone UMC in Jonesboro, Arkansas, thanks to the tireless efforts of Bob and Patricia Harlan (who have been here twice). We started with eighteen scholarships a year but has giving has fallen off and the tuition at the school has doubled, so we are down to eight a year at present. Four will graduate in May and then we will have four with one year to go. It’s a two-year program that now costs $500 a year for room and board, tuition, all fees, books, medical, the whole nine yards. That is not a lot for a college education that equips new teachers in a country where 1,500 teachers die of AIDS every year. We require that the recipients be Christian, orphans or so poor they could not otherwise attend. The Principal told us today that one of the group now in school was in his office last year in tears because she could not raise the money to become a teacher which was her dream. He told her that Maisha Na Maji mission would help her and to dry her eyes. She comes every now and then on Saturdays to help clean the grounds here to show her gratitude. Over the years, we have graduated over 60 new Christian teachers to help the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting a good education in Tanzania. We reminded him of the assistance from the church in Arkansas for which the students pray every day. He has had personal health problems but looked better today than he has in years. They have several of our biosand filters at the school and he wanted to know if we could help another Teachers College get some, and of course, we will. Then, Karen showed them her orange sweet potato project and they were very interested as they grow most of the food for the students at the college. Those sweet potatoes may be one of the best things we’ve done here (we being Karen) because soon they will be growing at the Teachers College as well. We do so much for which we never receive thanks that is a very nice thing when someone cares enough to come personally to let us know what a difference the scholarship program has made to the students who have received them. He asked us to thank all of the people in the U.S. who have given money to help, and Karen and I do, too. God bless the folks at Cornerstone for their persistence in keeping this wonderful mission project going. It’s a good thing. It’s a God thing.