“A root will not bear many flowers and fruits if the character, works and life are not changed by convictions” (Marie Eugenie, Chapter 23 may 1884)
St. Marie Eugenie Girls Secondary School is found in Moshi (Tanzania), in a village called Chekereni. Construction of the school began in 2007 after the canonization of St. Marie Eugenie.
On the 17th of January, 2011, the school officially started functioning. The school began with only 90 students, 3 teachers and 6 sisters. Only one building ready and this was used as a dormitory. The administration block, which was half ready, was used for classes, church and sisters house. The school had only 20 beds, so only 40 students were sleeping on beds, and the rest of the students slept
on the floor. But they didn’t mind at all, and life went on. The toilets had no doors, and we didn’t have water, we used water from the river, which was brought by a car and kept in the tanks. This service was provided by the Jeco constructors and we thank them for their wonderful service, because without them we would not have survived in this semi-desert area. Although we gave them a hard time because we used water badly, they never gave up on us. They continued to render the service to us.
Commitment of Staff Members and Workers
The school started with three teachers, one part time computer teacher, six sisters, and two cooks. All these people showed unforgettable, great commitment in their work. They all worked hard to ensure that we have our basic needs because they loved us.
The teachers came from far places but they all arrived on time. They also had a hard time teaching us because we didn’t know English, which was a big problem, but the problem was solved with the introduction of wearing sacks. If you were caught speaking Swahili, you were given a sack and punishment. Although we were punished, this helped us a lot to improve academically.
The Sisters also showed great commitment in their work despite the problems of sleeping down, and having only one room for all sisters, which did not even have solar power or electricity. But all these did not hinder them from performing their duties. They made sure we had enough food, water and other basic needs. They also helped us grow in Spirituality by making sure that we had mass every Sunday and Wednesday. This shows how much they love us.
Our Past Life and Talents
We were 90 students who started studying in St. Marie Eugenie. Our life was nice despite the little problems we had such as sleeping on the floor, using toilets with no doors, and the shortage of water. We all enjoyed the life we were living in Chekereni. We also shared the little things we had. For example, we bathed with small buckets so the water would be enough for everybody.
We worked together as a team of 90 to perform our duties, which included cleaning the environment, and taking care of the trees. Because we had different people with different talents, we were able to stage a talent show. Through this talent show, we were able to recognize our different talents. Some of us were good at singing, dancing, or even designing. In our class, we have a designer who is very good at designing kanga clothes. Our class also has two good football players, Monica Urassa and Adria. Although at present we are only 66 students, we remember our friends who have left us.
Problems we Faced and Progress we Made
In 2012, our school faced a big problem involving teachers, because most of the teachers we had went away and we remained with only one teacher. But God’s love is great and the school administration was able to get a Biology and Chemistry teacher.
Missing permanent teachers was not an obstacle for us to learn other subjects such as Mathematics, Physics and Computer. Of course, we also had part-time teachers who were willing to sacrifice their free time to work in our school. Although we missed some of the periods, we kept going and working hard. The sisters and teachers also worked hard to find permanent teachers for Physics and Mathematics. Truly, God never lets His people down, so we were able to get permanent teachers for Mathematics and Physics.
Our school has made a lot of progress so far. We now have enough teachers, enough classrooms, and a modern kitchen unlike the one of the past where rain used to enter. We have two dormitories, enough books, a computer laboratory, and a Biology and Chemistry laboratory.
Our school has also made some academic progress in the form of Congresses. This is a system where students present different topics to their fellow students and teachers in the course of one day. This system helps us develop the courage to stand in front of people and explain to them what we have learned. We also get to learn new things about different topics through these congresses.
We also have this system of exchanging badges, which was introduced in year 2012 by the administration. This system has challenged us to improve our performance through hard work and competition. This is because everybody wants to get a badge and to maintain it.
What we have learnt
We are proud to be the pioneers of this school. We also give thanks to the most Holy Father for guiding us up to this stage which we are now in.
At this point, we have really learned a lot from our past life to the present life. The Sisters taught us a lot and we have learned a lot also. For example, some of us did not know how to plant maize, but now we know how to do it. We learned to face problems and not to run away from them. We have also learned the values of St. Marie Eugenie, which helped us grow spiritually. We now know how to make use of little facilities we have to make wonders. For example, we didn’t have much water but we used the little we had and life went on. We also learned how to be strong and face life’s challenges, as well as how to be responsible for our own lives.
That is how our past life was and how our present life is. And for my point of view, I say that our lives are “survival for the fittest” which means you can only survive in life or even in school if you are fit and able to face challenges. If you are not fit you will be sorted out, and that is how we have survived.
I would say that for us form threes who are present until now, we are fit because we were able to face all the problems and have remained standing. Sometimes, we fall down but we managed to get up and go on with life. However, we are not that fit because life still goes on and we are supposed to be more fit in order to be able to face the on-coming challenges.
Also, problems are not obstacles for us to move forward because if we are not afraid to make the first steps forward, we will be able to manage. We should make one step at a time and not rush, because if we rush we may fall down and not be able to continue.
Lastly, I sum up my story by saying life is what we make out of it so what we are doing now is our life.
By Bahati G. Lemnge
Edited by Mara Eala