The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
This week’s story comes from Donna Kekich, a member of Prince of Peace in Burnsville who serves as one of our volunteer Travel Coordinators. In July she extended her stay in Iringa and offered to assist the office with scholarship payments and school visits. This is what she observed…
It was an honor and privilege, as well as very humbling, to represent BKB-SPAS the last two weeks of July and be part of a team that visited all six DIRA owned and managed secondary schools. The primary objectives of these visits are to bring greetings from Bega Kwa Bega to the schools’ youth and staff, plus verify BKB scholarship students’ attendance. However, there are so many other learnings I took away from this opportunity that I’ve been asked to share a few via this newsletter.
As we traveled along bump filled dusty roads, I learned the six DIRA secondary schools were specifically built in rural, remote areas of the Diocese in order to provide better access for higher education to our villages’ children. While the Tanzanian government has declared they will make secondary education free to all students who pass the national examination for higher education, in reality students from remote villages do not have access to that promise because there have been no schools built close enough to where they live for them to freely attend.
Being able to view the scholarship statistics, I discovered over half of the BKB sponsored secondary scholarship students currently attend one of the DIRA secondary schools. Thus, our funds are not only supporting students’ education, but they also are providing significant support to the Iringa Diocese’s educational division, and through this, teaching positions and other jobs within the schools.
I was so humbled to meet our scholarship youth, to see the desire in their facial expressions when encouraged by Pastor Msigwa to study hard and do their best, and to more fully understand the amount of work and effort each must take to attend DIRA secondary level boarding schools. We so take education for granted here in the U.S.–their situation is incredibly different and so much harder–and these scholarship students are so grateful for the opportunity BKB is providing them!
I also learned how important it is for our synod congregations to identify their annual scholarship pledges and inform the BKB office on a timely basis each fall. When pledges are received late, it causes a ripple effect in the DIRA office. Without timely scholarship pledge fund information to pass along to the parishes, our partners cannot conduct required meetings where scholarship related decisions are made...required administrative paperwork cannot be completed and submitted...and students cannot fully complete their secondary school applications and be accepted. The the end result often means allocated dollars are not spent due to school starting timelines and acceptance procedures having already occurred, Late scholarship pledges mean that worthy youth remain in their home villages rather than being provided the opportunity to attend a secondary school. With the request now made for BKB scholarship pledges this month, please respond with your commitments to your cluster leaders before the deadline of November 5.
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be your representative in Iringa, meeting students and staff, seeing our scholarship dollars at work–thank you!
BKB Volunteer Travel Coordinator