A letter about thankfulness

Dear Brothers and all Friends of the Marist Brothers,

Greetings from the Brothers and our entire community of BISHOP MUGENDI SECONDARY SCHOOL, ROO.  We three Brothers, Juan, Hans and Elie are trying to live up to the charism of our founder, St. Marcellin, serving the most neglected youth.

The last several months we experienced a severe drought, but thanks to God´s goodness we have the last few days received some  rain and we have planted maize like any other family and farmer in the area.

In the school, it has been a bumpy road, with few students, most of them orphans or from very poor families who could not contribute much to their school fees.  As you may know, Bro. Pierrot left the school in the last term of the school year 2010, and Bro. Elie replaced him as the Principal of the school.

We made an effort to change the face of the school, thanks to the combined efforts in which Bro. Hans and a team of staff and students of the technical school in Ramba, Mfangano Island, came in to repair dilapidated furniture, desks, lockers and old chairs of the school;  they assisted and worked cutting down old trees in the compound and they helped in providing hundreds of new tree seedlings which we have already planted and they are doing extremely well.

To get more students, Bro. Elie and some teachers, towards the end of last year, went around the area and visited 17 Primary Schools in the region of BMSS,  talking to the Standard VIII students who are candidates for the school year 2011, wishing them success for their graduation from Primary  and inviting them to join our school.  We also made announcements on the local radio station, in churches and invited different Primary School teachers and parents to visit our school.  These efforts paid off; actually we have 40 students in Form 1 (against 25 last year, 34 in Form 2 (against 30 last year) ….

In our visits to the Primary Schools, we realized that all of those 17 Primary Schools and others around are mixed (boys and girls).  We also became more aware of the bitter truth that most of the girls are forced into early marriage by parents, grandparents and guardians since a good number are orphans and they cannot afford to continue their education.  A good number of these girls are inherited by old men with many wives or widows, most of them infected by HIV Aids and those young girls may die before having their first baby born.  The ones who are not infected by those old men are cheated by the fishermen; most of them school dropouts, who pay them occasionally something little for pulling the nets.  Others who tempt the girls are young boys who could not afford the fees for attending school and are driving motorbikes to transport people in the countryside.

Despite the government´s effort  towards free education in Primary and Secondary, most of the people here find it hard to bring food on the table every day and some children leave school to help their old parents to feed the family.                                                                                                                                                      

It is with this in mind that we discussed in the community and took the option to make BISHOP MUGENDI SECONDARY SCHOOL a mixed school.  It is said that if you educate a boy you educate a person but if you educate a girl you educate a nation.

We do not have words to express our thanks to all the people who contributed to this effort through Bro. Hans, who helped to change an old storeroom into a dormitory for girls.
We have admitted three in Form 3 and seven in Form 1 and we hope, with time, the number will increase. To  Bro. Hans and his team from Ramba,  we are most grateful for their tireless efforts to provide a conducive environment in BMSS  for those young people who are so very  close to the heart of our founder.

The work is not yet finished;  we are just at the beginning.
We are having a project to build administration offices for the school.  For the time being, one classroom is serving as Principal´s Office, Deputy´s Office and Clerk´s Office while the other classroom is serving as a staffroom where the teachers also take their lunch.

Bro. Juan, who joined the community in January this year, will be overseeing this project;   he is also helping in the clerk`s work receiving school fees and he is still teaching Mathematics in Form 1, even at the age of 77.

I cannot finish this long letter without, once again, expressing that we are sincerely thankful to our benefactors, whether you are in Germany or any other part of our world.
May God bless your efforts and reward your generosity.
This Eastertide and always we remain united in our Risen Lord as He speaks the WORD to us which He addressed to the disciples:  “PEACE BE WITH YOU”… and the disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, “PEACE BE WITH YOU” (John 20:19-20). 

Your Marist Brother in East Africa, Lake Victoria, Roo- Ramba-Orore, Kenya

Brothers Elie, Hans and Juan

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