The Grand Opening
Ashley and I had no idea what was in store for us as we drove from the ASFE office in Bagamoyo to the site of the recently completed Mnindi Primary School. We had been so looking forward to this day, even throughout the trials and tribulations that can often come with construction in Africa.
Prior to entering the dirt road that marked the final three miles of our journey, we only knew that the Mnindi community, along with several dignitaries representing the United Republic of Tanzania, was inviting us to a ceremony recognizing the completion of the school. The adventure started to get even more interesting when a huge cloth sign with “ASANTE SANA FOR EDUCATION WELCOMES YOU ALL TO THE GRAND OPENING OF MNINDI PRIMARY SCHOOL ON 11-12-14” painted in black and grey letters greeted us at the dirt road’s beginning. As we drove closer to the school, I became increasingly aware of the impact of this school when I noticed several homes that had replaced vacant land since my last visit two years ago – families who value an education for their children were drawn to this new school.
Once we arrived at the school, the beauty of the six classrooms, two teacher houses, and latrine overwhelmed me. As we toured the buildings, I began to visualize children learning in such a fine environment. While the official ceremony did not begin until about noon, the celebration started for me in one of the classrooms when Tanzania’s Minister of Education and Vocational Training Dr. Shukuru Kawambwa, his entourage, and members of the Mnindi community started to chant and sing words of gratitude towards Ashley, enveloping both of us in a joyous circle of celebration. I could only watch with extreme pride as I witnessed how important this school was to these people, a school that exemplifies how dedicated Ashley has been to such a worthy cause – the education of children.
That was just the ‘appetizer’; the program was a grand menagerie of extremely kind tributes to ASFE from representatives of the country and local community, sharing of splendid gifts, meaningful skits, dancing, and singing. The highlight of the program was the acting, singing and dancing by students from ASFE’s Students Empowering Students program (who had arrived, some with their parents, on a bus from Bagamoyo), as well as the impressive traditional dance of the Maasai tribe.
The whole day was beyond our dreams and expectation, a grand tribute to everyone associated with Asante Sana for Education, Inc., including the many people who have shared in this accomplishment by contributing what they can to the education of children in Tanzania.