The school that drew tears from the Sullivan CEO
By Lucas Lukumbo
Shock and disbelief drove some members of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation Summit delegation to tears after a pathetic schooling environment stared them squarely in the face a few kilometres from Arusha town early this week.
The delegation, led by the Foundation`s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mrs Hope Masters, couldn`t easily come to terms with seeing pupils of Manyata Primary School, many of them bare-footed and wearing tattered uniforms, sitting on a dusty floor, and yet seeming to reconcile themselves to the situation.
The village chairman, Ndelilio N. Kitomari, informed the visitors that the school needed 200 desks for children. The school was started in 1970.
As the delegation members took in the deplorable sight and listened to Kitomari`s briefing, some wept and sobbed.
``Almost all the classrooms have no doors and windows, exposing the pupils to adverse conditions such as strong winds or chilly weather,`` he said.
``I am really touched by the situation.
The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation has a big task in improving the life of such children.
It is encouraging however that children were eager to learn despite such a situation,`` said the Sullivan Foundation CEO as she struggled to control her tears.
Talking and sobbing intermittently, a prominent actress in the team, Shauna Chin, was caught up in a tricky situation.
``The world is not doing justice to these poor children,`` she remarked, pointing out that only recently, she acted the role of villain in a movie titled ``Gangster`` (PLATINUM CAMP PRODUCTIONS); ``I guess, the name of the producers, and villains don`t weep``, she remarked tearfully.
Police officers don`t cry easily, too, but Travis Eagan, a volunteer police officer, shed tears, moved by both the pathetic situation the kids faced and their bright faces in spite of the odds.
The Washington DC based delegate was optimistic that many Americans would like to contribute to such people adding, ``It is only because many do not know this kind of situation``.
The liberally flowing tears moved the village chairman, who associated the gesture of sympathy with the African ancestry of the African Americans.
``These are really our friends.
They have African roots. Africans normally cry for their fellow African in trouble,`` he said, simultaneously turning away his face, probably to hide his tears.
The delegation handed out an assortment of presents to the pupils. According to President of the Motion Masters, Dian Sole, the presents, all valued at 2,000 US Dollars (2.4M/- TShs) were contributed by different school children in Washington DC and some from Great Falls Elementary children and Girl Scouts of America.
A child delegate, Grace Nalepka (8) busied herself making friends with local kids.
She moved from one pupil to another asking what the names of those to whom she gave presents were. She was joined by Saige Masters (8).
The children approached this reporter and asked for a Swahili translation of `What is your name?` They were very quick to grasp.
``Jina lako nani, jina lako nani`` so they went around asking the pupils of the Manyata primary school.
This reporter learned later that besides all odds facing the Manyata children at the school, they have to walk many kilometres to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.
Mrs Hope Masters brought up the issue of the plight of the Manyata Primary school during State banquet that President Jakaya Kikwete hosted for the delegates of the Leon Sullivan Summit.
Mrs Hope Masters, who was also the Summit Convener and daughter of the late Reverend Sullivan appealed to the delegates to do something to salvage the plight of the Manyata Primary School.
``We have witnessed the pathetic situation at the school.
I always wonder why God gives enough to others while giving nothing to others,`` Mrs Hope said vividly aggrieved by the school compound environment.
Civil and human rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson took the podium at the invitation of President Jakaya Kikwete and asked the delegates to contribute money for the school.
Touched by Rev Jackson`s silver tongue US delegates dug deep into their pockets, contributing 50,000 in cash.
SOURCE: Sunday Observer