The Tents of St. Martin Y.T.C.

By Onyango G.W

Sunday Gospel: “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Mk. 9:5

By sunset around 6.00 PM on Saturday,18th February, 2012, the head teacher (Br.Ellie Twagirayezu), teachers and staff of Bishop Mugendi Secondary school had realized that to achieve a dream, one must overcome great challenges. This happened through sharing with our fellow brethren at St. Martin Youth training centre. After a rather frightening crossing on theBoat Ride turbulent waves of the 25 km distance we reached the haven of our sister school, St. Martin Youth Polytechnic on Mfangano Island.  Short as our overnight stay was, we came to appreciate the countless sacrifices over many years which went into building up and developing this Youth Training Centre into a haven on this remote island.

 We received a warm welcome. Many helping hands were there to offload the boat, hands that were accompanied with faces beaming with pleasure and joy. Things remained like this throughout our stay under the warm hospitality of the centre coordinator, Br. Hans Seubert. We were immediately shown to our modest but quite comfortable rooms in the guest wing. We later gathered for a late lunch where everyone seemed to be bursting with high spirits and anticipation. We thereafter celebrated Mass with Father Macelline, a former student of  BMSS, who was there with us to commemorate the first ever inter-communal get-together of two Marist fraternities, of Ramba, Mfangano and BMSS in Roo on the mainland.

Father Marcelline took us through a very blessed and inspiring Eucharistic celebration. He made me realize one thing in particular – that unity and collaboration depends mainly on being happy to be where you are, and being Mass in Schoolready to sacrifice yourself to make those you have come to be with, happy. The disciples of Jesus endeavored themselves to build tents for Moses and Elijah because they were overwhelmed with the glorious significance of the visit. This kind of love is what we witnessed at St. Martin. They built for us many tents although we were there only briefly.

After a truly communal supper and chit-chat, some members retired early. The next day we woke up to see St. Martin in its true unveilment. We realized that so many activities were going

on in such a small, isolated place. We saw textiles and dress making, a fiberglass production unit, metal, wood and masonry workshops – and more than that — they are well equipped and maintained. Agricultural activities we found to be at the heart of the community´s life.

Another aspect which surprised me a lot was the high level of efficiency.  Students did almost everything – let me say, everything, with almost no supervision and I realized the advantage of doing things without using outside labour; this creates a  feeling of being a fraternity. If only we, too,  could implement this!

Having worked in the engineering industry for 14years, I had a special interest  in the metal work section. After an energizing talk with the students I felt that we simply had to join hands to uplift the scope and vision of that department, and even others –from being merely “metalwork” to engineering and design, and to use the wide range of sophisticated machinery to enter into aggressive production. Most technical colleges –for that is what I now viewed St. Martin Y.T.C. to be  — are aspiring to this and thereby come to uplift their overall status by improving the  quality of production –both for financial as well as educational needs.

Unfortunately, the weekend was coming to an end and we had to go back. In a last meeting with the students, we shared ideas and I found that even my fellow teachers shared similar opinions in various fields. As a teacher of physics, I felt this was the best place to bring my students in order to get a real touch of the world of engineering — a world they were preparing to venture into and perhaps belong to forever.

After a warm goodbye we parted company. But the ‘tents’ built for us remained in our hearts, and we felt we should build similar tents for St. Martin Y.T.C in terms of collaboration –we should support each other so that the flow of skills and resources could make us grow stronger. We felt like a one-legged man who has discovered his other leg.

  Long live the collaboration between Bishop Mugendi and St. Martin Y.T.C!!!

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