Catholics donate money for Tanzanian school, well

Students at St. Peter-Claver school in Tanzania, Africa, drink water with their meal because of a well built with donations from Sacred Heart Parish in Lost Nation. (Contributed photo)

By Anne Marie Amacher

Contributions of more than $5,000 from Sacred Heart Parish in Lost Nation led to construction of a new well that provides drinking water for children at a Tanzanian school.

Father Juvenalis Ndaula, who is studying for his master’s degree in education at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, visited St. Peter-Claver School in his homeland of Tanzania this summer.

He said money from the small Lost Nation parish arrived in March and digging of the well began in April. “It was almost done when I got there (in July),” he said. It is the school’s second well and it “is wonderful,” he added.

The first well has been used for cooking and laundry. During the drought season, the school often used funds from its tight budget to purchase water to accommodate needs. The second well enables the children to drink water with their meals. “They hadn’t seen this before,” he said. The Lost Nation parish showed that “you can make a difference.”


His goal is to raise money for a third well so there is enough water to plant a garden and irrigate it. “That way the children could eat some vegetables. So many things could be possible with a third well,” Fr. Ndaula exclaimed.

Father William Kneemiller was serving as pastor of the Lost Nation parish when the fund-raising effort got underway for the well. He now serves as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves in Afghanistan. “The idea for the well project first came from parishioners at Sacred Heart in Lost Nation, Sacred Heart in Oxford Junction and St. James in Toronto when we had a small group after Mass on one of the worst winter weekends last January,” Fr. Kneemiller said in an e-mail to The Catholic Messenger. “Then over the next few months, close to $5,000 was raised for the orphanage. Those few people, in a small parish can make a world of difference!”

Approximately 400 students, including orphans, attend the Tanzanian school that serves first through seventh grade.

Funding for the school has run into a hurdle, though, Fr. Ndaula noted. His Diocese of Rulenge, where the school was located, has been divided into two dioceses. The new Diocese of Kayanga now is home to the school, but has no money for a chancery or to support the school. While Fr. Ndaula remains a priest of the Diocese of Rulenge, he has not abandoned his effort to support the school. Education is important to empower the people and make change, he said.

A group in the Diocese of Davenport has formed “Change for Tanzania” to assist the orphaned children and their school. They were inspired after Fr. Ndaula spoke at Masses at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport in April 2008. He spoke of the orphans’ need for tuition assistance, said Jane Trasowech of Change for Tanzania. Following those Masses, $7,000 was raised to sponsor several orphans at the school. An additional $3,000 was raised.

Fifteen orphans are being sponsored right now. The cost is $800 per student and includes tuition, uniforms and housing. “So far we have only sent $1,200 (this year). They need about $11,000 more to be raised by the end of the year” or the orphans will need to leave the school, Trasowech said.

The main way of raising funds has been passing around a jar to members of the group who keep it for a month. One family had a garage sale. A young girl hosted a lemonade stand over the summer. The group has decided it needs to make more people aware of the Tanzanian school.

Trasowech said she hopes that a class or two at some of the diocesan schools will adopt the Tanzanian school. She realizes not everyone can donate money, but everyone can say prayers. “Prayers can make a difference too.”

A video featuring the school has been placed on under the heading “Change for Tanzania.” Father Tom Stratman, a retired priest of the Davenport Diocese, shot the video footage while visiting Tanzania last year. Future dreams for the school include additional classrooms and eventually a secondary school, along with a dormitory, library, larger kitchen and housing for staff.

To make a donation to St. Peter Claver School, send checks to Father Juvenalis Ndaula, c/o St. Vincent Center, 2706 N. Gaines St. Davenport, Iowa, 52804 or Jane Trasowech, 2503 Fairhaven Road, Davenport, Iowa, 52803. Please write the checks to Change for Tanzania.

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