In my post about our visit to Kidamali (http://www.timkwrites.com/blog/sunday-worship-in-kidamali) I wrote about how moved I was when I heard that over 70 children in the parish had been helped through scholarships from money given by Shepherd of the Hills. We visited three schools on our trip. Image and Bomalang’ombe Secondary Schools and the Nursing School at Ilula Hospital. I learned more about the scholarship program on these visits.
The day after we visited Kidamali we had a full day planned. We were going to Ilula Hospital, Image Parish and Image Secondary School. Our guide for the day was Frank Mkocha who works in the Bega Kwa Bega office at the Iringa Diocese. His job is working with the scholarship program. As part of his job he visits every school every term to verify that children receiving scholarships are actually at the school.
At Image Secondary School we arrived late, but lunch was still waiting for us. After lunch, we were serenaded by the students and we were given a tour of the school. As were getting ready to leave we noticed that several students had decorated our dusty bus.
As I was getting on the bus, Frank pointed out a message that was written on the bus. “That’s Swahili for ‘wash me.’”
At Bomalang’ombe our guide was a young man from Mwatasi, the village we were staying at. He had attended Bomalang’ombe and he told me he was interested in seeing the school again. There had been a forest fire in the area that had come close to the school and he wanted to see how bad it had been. The fire had been very close to the school; we could see the burned areas on several sides of the school when we were given a tour. One of the teachers told me they had been out with water when the fire was getting close.
At the end of our time at the school I was talking to another teacher. He said it would be good if we met again sometime. I agreed, but I wasn’t sure if I would be coming to that school again because it is a long way from Kidamali. So, I said if we didn’t meet again in this world we meet in the next. He burst out laughing and I had to join in.
At Ilula Hospital we toured the nursing school that they had just started up. It is in its second year, so there are two classes of students. We were allowed into the classrooms and saw the first-year students and the second year students. As we were talking with the class of second-year students we asked how many of them were receiving scholarships from Bega Kwa Bega. They had the ones receiving scholarships stand up.
Every student in that class except for one stood up.
Scholarships are important and they’re actually a triple gift. First, they are a gift to the student to allow them to get the education they deserve. Secondly, they are a gift to society. These students will have an impact on their world, whether as a nurse or in some other capacity. They will be a force for good. And finally, they are a gift to the school. At every school we went to they talked about how scholarship money helps their budgets. Would Ilula Hospital have been able to start a nursing school if there had been only one student? What an amazing gift a scholarship is.
If you are interested in making a donation for scholarships check with your local Saint Paul Area Synod ELCA Lutheran Church to see if they have a companion parish or you can send donations to: Bega Kwa Bega c/p Saint Paul Area Synod, 105 University Ave. West, St. Paul, MN 55103.
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