By Sarah Gioe
Photo by Stephanie Schmiege
Kibeta English Medium Primary School (KEMPS), the school in our Tanzanian companion synod that we have supported for years, is primarily thought of as a boarding school. Students from far away live at the campus in dormitories, starting as young as age five. But about a third of the students who live closer attend as day students, getting to school either by walking or by being picked up by the KEMPS bus each morning.
This last year, after many repairs, the KEMPS bus broke down for the last time. Some students who used to take the bus began walking to school. The school day was shortened because students could not get to school on time. And school leaders began making multiple trips by car each morning and afternoon to pick up the students who lived furthest. That meant that some children arrived very early and others late for the day. Following the end of the school day at 4:30pm, some students did not get home until 7pm.
The North Western Diocese found a new bus that could seat 41 passengers in Dar es Salaam. School officials arranged a down payment from the sale of the old bus and used school funds to pay a third of the cost, but still needed to pay the remaining 17,000,000 Tanzanian shillings (approximately $11,000).
For Udugu Sunday last September, our annual celebration of our companionship with our sisters and brothers in Tanzania, Metro New York Synod congregations were invited to help offset the cost of the new bus for KEMPS by donating $20 for bus stickers to post on notebooks, mugs, and refrigerators. The goal was to raise $8,000…but we blew past that and were able to cover the entire remainder of the bus. The money was wired directly to KEMPS headmistress Joyce Lwakatare.
Former KEMPS teacher Stephanie Schmiege was hanging laundry up to dry when she heard beeping of horns and cheering. Thinking that a wedding must be driving by, she went for a closer look to find teachers cheering and students running ahead of the caravan. A new white school bus had arrived! "As the driver pulled in and parked, students and teachers placed branches and flowers along the windows to celebrate its arrival," she wrote on her blog. "To further commemorate the moment, a tree was also planted on campus by the General Secretary [of the North Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania]."
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the purchase of a new bus for KEMPS! You have made a difference in the lives of the students.