Chekereni, our new foundation is the fruit of a long and winding history of the educational apostolate of the Assumption Sisters in Tanzania. But the immediate beginnings of this project dates back to 1999 during an alumnae gathering with the late Sr Edmund and Sr Agnes Mary. The alumnae of the 3 schools, Mandaka, Assumpta and Kibosho which the Sisters had run from the time of their coming in 1957, saw the value of what they had the privilege to receive and that they wanted the next generations to receive, too. The idea was to begin our own school to pass on the precious the heritage they had received from their education under the Assumption Sisters . The Sisters in the province took up this challenge and with the encouragement of Sr. Cristina, then Superior General, they began to set their hearts on the dream of a school of their own, not just the diocesan schools that they had been running since after the nationalization of Mandaka and Assumpta, and the return of Kibosho and Kereita to the dioceses. Thus, the province started to acquire by stages pieces of land in a place called Chekereni (coming from the English ‘Check the Rails’ – because of the railways that pass through the area !). The dream began to take concrete shape, during the celebration of Golden jubilee of the Province on 1st September 2007. The day after the jubilee celebration, Rev. Bishop Amadeus Msarikie and the whole Province with the presence of our Superior General, Sr. Diana, and General Councilors, Sr. Marie Emmanuel and Sr. Martine, went to bless the land and lay the cornerstone to mark the beginning of a school. It was a shining moment for the Province.
Then, as if to confirm that dream, something totally unexpected and astounding happened. During the canonization of Mother Marie Eugenie on 3rd June 2007, the Congregation gave a gift to the Pope : a school. This gift had come from the contribution of all the Provinces of the Congregation. In return, the Pope requested the Congregation to establish this school in Africa and run it for him. Thus came the discernment among the Provinces of Africa of what kind of school and where among the countries would the ‘Pope’s School’ (as it had began to be fondly known) be founded. Of course, the East African Province had presented for discernment there ‘dream school’ in their as yet empty land of Chekereni. A letter from Sr. Diana dated 18th May, 2008 on the feast of the Holy Trinity announced that the Chekereni Secondary School Project in Tanzania had been identified as the project for the Pope’s school. It was not difficult to find a name for the school : St. Marie Eugenie Secondary Girls’ School and not simply to be run as the usual Catholic secondary school for girls but to be a pilot school for the implementation of Marie Eugenie’s educational principles as well as for the training of Assumption educators both religious and lay for the Assumption in Africa. For this, an International Education Team to help set up the curriculum and the formation of both administration and faculty was formed. Thus, the groundwork meant not only the preparation for permits and construction but the formation of Sisters and the formulation of the educational vision the steps for the implementation of that vision for the ‘dream school’.
It is thus that St. Marie Eugenie’s officially opened on the 17th January 2011. It is as Sr. Diana wrote in February 9, 2009, ’the SIGNIFICANT ACT of the Congregation for the canonization of St. Marie Eugenie. It is our act of thanksgiving and our way of expressing our charism of education.’ All the Sisters of the Province of East Africa are ever so grateful to God and to the Congregation for being part of the realization of their dream. Like all beginnings, there are difficulties to hurdle, but we have no doubt what God has begun, the seed of a dream he had planted in our hearts, he will make grow tall and strong like the 3 baobab trees we found growing in the land of Chekereni.