2015 has started for Grace at least with a fair amount of ill health but looks like she is back on top form and the boys it seems have managed to escape.
Over December and still now during weekends Festo is busy at the farm growing maize, ground nuts, sesame and sunflowers which tires him out but is keeping him fit.
Just before Christmas we had a special family weekend away in Dodoma with Zeph and Kv. Main highlight for the boys is always swimming in the Dodoma hotel pool and it was great to have a relaxing time altogether, Zeph and Kv especially enjoyed all the play time they got with Daddy. The trip also facilitated what became the highlight of Christmas day, the purchasing of two bicycles. Christmas day was lovely, it can never compare here to Christmas in the UK but we had a great family day remembering the birth of our Saviour and sharing with family and friends.
All three Kanungha men wore one of their Christmas presents – matching shirts – sadly we forgot to take a picture of them all together!
The new school term began on January 5th and now as we approach the end of January we have nearly all the students with us. January being a farming month makes it difficult for some parents to prioritize sending their children to school on time. Form 1 has once more taken a double intake and are around 70 in number and the rest of the classes continue to range between 60 and 70 in size. We are hoping to finish the classroom build started in 2014 within 2015 so that we can split each year group across two class rooms to make better class sizes.
Form 2 national exam results (exams were sat last November) are now out and we are very pleased with our results. Once again we are second in our region with 4 students achieving merits and the rest of the class obtaining distinctions! Wow! Results can be found at http://necta.go.tz/matokeo2015/01_S1027-0.htm .
We continue on with Stephen and Charlotte here with us from CMS (Church Mission Society), Stephen as a short term-er and Charlotte on her gap year. Charlotte will be with us until July and Stephen until the end of the year. If you know of someone looking for an exciting yet servant heart-ed gap year or short term mission placement do pass on our contact information to them!
The Nursery school has had a slow start due to farming season and many parents going with their children to stay at their farm during this season we expect numbers to increase at the end of this month and again at the end of the next. That being said we are averaging 70 students each day which is plenty to be getting on with. Charlotte is gaining much ground in teaching them English and we are enjoying watching them grow and develop.
In February St. John’s will receive a team from Christ Church Woodbury all of whom are dear friends of ours. They will be 7 in number and are coming as a work party to help out with some practical projects around the school. More on their visit in the next blog.
We would like to introduce you all to Elizabeth Ernest. Elizabeth came to us during the December school holidays to ask for a place at St. John’s. She is from Kilimatinde and passed her end of primary school exams (standard 7 exams) with good results. Her parents are separated and she lives with her Father and Brother. Her father is disabled and unable to support her even to study secondary level education at the local government school as he already supports her brother to study there who is in form three. We were very impressed by her courage to come and speak to us and believe that it is God’s will for us to take her on at St. John’s. Festo is well aware of her family’s situation and we think that this is the kind of student that God has called us here to serve. An education for this young lady would be life changing for her.
We gave Elizabeth a challenge which she met with the help of her brother. The challenge was to raise 200,000 TSH (£76.92) by finding sponsors around the village (we provided her with a sponsorship form and covering letter). This money was so that she could buy the essentials needed for starting school; mattress and sheets, uniform, exercise books, shoes etc. They worked very hard to find the money and she has now started school. It will cost £545 per year for us to educate Elizabeth. She is joining a small group of 4 students that we personally sponsor to attend St. John’s not including the relatives on Festo’s side who we are also putting through education. We are doing so because our sponsorship scheme for St. John’s is still in its infancy and are still trying to find folks to sponsor our students whose potential is great but whose families cannot support them. We would like to ask you to prayerfully consider whether you or a group you are part of would be willing to help sponsor a student. Sponsors can give from £5 a month or one off donations. All money donated goes towards this group of now 5 students and their educational needs. Please do contact us if you would like to know more about how to do this.
This year we hope to start building a volunteers house on the school grounds. Each year we receive quite a few visitors to St. John’s from outside Tanzania and we are hoping to continue on with our gap year and short term mission people as well. Until now most people who visit us stay at chez Kanungha but the house is often not big enough and with our expanding family will seam smaller and smaller. We hope to receive more visitors, teams, gap year people etc as time goes on so we need to be able to accommodate them. This project is in conjunction with GO MAD (Go make a difference) a charity which already works in Tanzania sending teams to work in the Diocese of Mara and we are very excited about this new relationship, the possibility of the house and more visitors and the impact that it all will have on our students, school, village and Diocese. Please pray for us as we step out in faith in this venture.
Love and Prayers from Festo, Grace, Kv, Zephaniah and Bump.