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|In January 2009, Sister Jackie Goodin, CSJ, embarked on a physical and spiritual journey to Songea, a small rural town in southwest Tanzania, an East African country. She ministers at St. Joseph Hostel, a residence for girls and teenagers sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery. The Hostel provides a safe and caring environment which allows the girls to complete their high school education in town. She works alongside other Sisters of St. Joseph caring for the girls’ day-to-day needs.
SISTER JACKIE'S BLOGJuly 2014
In My Next Career, I Will Not Be A Manicurist! Before the girls left for their home villages in early June for a long school holiday, we Sisters planned some fun activities to conclude Term I. Our last night together we brought out many wild colors of nail polish and gave each girl a manicure with the color of her choice. Some tried to sneak a bottle so as to apply an extra coat of lacquer. You can see the concentration on my face as I tried to brush on, oh so carefully, the deep red colors that the girls seemed to prefer this year. Pressure! Some wild bongo (pop) music was going on in the background as the girls worked off their excess energy with dancing. It was a wonderful evening though becoming a professional manicurist is definitely not in my future!
Since the beginning of the Hostel nine years ago, we were always running short of clean water for drinking and cooking. Finally, we were able to secure funding to build a high tower to house a large water tank. This project was completed in
March 2014. Our contractor assured us that it would be a “small” project, surely to be completed within six weeks. Well, we laughed as it turned into a six month project! (This is like all things Tanzanian.) Nonetheless, before holiday we were preparing for a prayer service of gratitude for the gift of water, the gift of fine workers, and the gift of donors. We gathered the girls for a ”photo op” and then …. I huddled with the girls to plan the surprise action. Then 15 seconds of high, high energy as the girls enjoyed the gift of playful water. The girls went wild splashing water on their friends while their friends ran frantically to escape the sprinkling.
After the prayer service on June 28, some of the girls who receive full scholarships and their parents gathered with Sr. Clementina and Sr. Philomena of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery leadership team. This was Sr. Clementina’s sixth trip to Tanzania, but Sr. Philomena’s first trip. The girls prepared a traditional program to welcome the Sisters, including presenting each with an OFFICIAL St. Joseph Hostel uniform t-shirt—which I’m sure they are wearing at every opportunity all over Rome where the leadership team lives. Well, it was a glorious long holiday (one month) here at St. Joseph Hostel but it is time to get back in the saddle and really get serious about those pesky (but so very important!) National Examinations which will be held in October and November. All of the Hostel Sisters are rested and already looking ahead to recruiting the next group of scholarship girls for the 2015 school year. The girls, too, enjoyed their holiday—well, maybe not so much the Form II and IV girls who had extra tutoring at school. I’m preparing myself for the shrieks that signal reunion when most of the girls return on July 13. Then again, we will have a full house. We have some very bright girls who are at the top of the classes and many who are of average ability. Every girl here wants a good education. Some have learned how much hard work this takes, while others wish learning didn’t require so much self-discipline.
Be in solidarity with them as they struggle with English. Be in solidarity with our girls who are preparing for their National Examinations. Be in solidarity as they cope with the stress and pressure that these Examinations create. Be in solidarity with their parents/guardians who have precious dreams for their daughters. Be in solidarity with all children around our globe who do not have access to decent schools.
Next month I will post two very compelling stories of girls—one who will graduate this year and one who will complete Form II (and we pray continue on to Form III.)If you would like to learn ways you can help Sister Jackie's girls, contact Pat Milenius at 216.252.0440, or email@example.com.