Monday, July 28, 2014

Returning Home to Tanzania: Sr. Pia's Reflections on "The Best Years of my Monastic Life" Part Two

The joy of my reunion with the community in St. Scholastica Priory was mutual. I met many new faces among the younger generations – new postulants and novices and new temporary professed sisters. European-born sisters were predominant during my years as prioress (1995-2007), but now a majority of the sisters in Peramiho come from Tanzania. I also saw that they have been joined by sisters from South Korea, Kenya and Uganda.

On Sunday, May 11, most of the sisters traveled by hired bus to Songea to witness the blessings of MBS' newly built Good Shepherd Orphanage, Montessori preschool and kindergarten, as well as the new Good Shepherd Convent of the Sisters nearby. I was deeply impressed and very grateful for what I saw. A big dream has been accomplished on the three pieces of land purchased by the Peramiho priory in 1997 for our orphanage's new home.

I remain aware that the responsibility for children orphaned due to the deadly impact of HIV-AIDS has been left by the Tanzanian government to the charity of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) as well as to the orphans' extended families. I am grateful that the Peramiho priory was able to find generous benefactors to enable our sisters to serve these children to best of their ability.

The new orphanage's three family houses – each of which can house up to 16 children – offer a new home in a different style for the orphans who were under our care in Good Shepherd Orphanage's original home at a former “leprosy camp” in the the village of Morogoro-Peramiho.

Children in each house will live like a family under a house mother. The houses are built strong and well and are equipped with all that is needed, such as food, water and electricity. The kindergartners and preschoolers will be taught on the same property, which also contains four large classrooms ready to accept students for the English-speaking Montessori school. Primary-school (elementary) children will be integrated into the local primary school in the suburb of Songea, while secondary-school students will attend the school assigned them by the government. St. Scholastica Priory, however, plans in the future to expand the orphanage's Montessori school to include primary grades.

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