Monday, April 6, 2015

The Good News from East Africa

I am sure most of you have heard of the recent tragic event on the Kenya-Somalia border, resulting in the deaths of 140 innocent people.  There are miscreants who are intent on breaking our hearts.  And then there are some heroes who are the antidotes to such poison, who spend their time trying to decrease the amount of misery on this beautiful planet.  Today I give you the words of one such person.
Sister Mary with Willy Chambullo, a neighbor and supporter of Emusoi
Sister Mary Vertucci of Somerset, NJ, joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1964. She was assigned to Tanzania in 1971, where she taught chemistry at a secondary school for girls in Koroqwe. She served in the regional administration of the Maryknoll Sisters in Tanzania, after which she did vocation ministry for her congregation in 1982.
When she returned to Tanzania in 1987, Sister Mary got involved in youth work and education for girls. Her keen interest in empowering young women led her later on to participate as a research assistant for the Pastoral Research and Development Program, which does research in the field of education among the Maasai, a nomadic, pastoral people that continues to be marginalized in Tanzania.
in 1999, Sister Mary helped found Emusoi, which means "a place of discovery and awareness" in Maa, the Maasai language. The center aims to prepare school-age girls who grew up among nomadic peoples in Tanzania.
I have posted a couple of times in the past about Emusoi's work.  Here is a link describing my visit there last August:
I have just received Sr. Mary's monthly donor newsletter.  I always enjoy reading about what is happening with the Emusoi girls.  But this month's news from Emusoi was especially touching, given the horrific reports from Tanzania's neighbor to the north. With Sr. Mary's permission, I am reproducing her words to her supporters here.  I couldn't figure out how to download her photos, so I am putting in a few that I took during my visit.  If you want to help her girls, you can make a donation here.  I hope you will join me in doing so.
Stipulate Emusoi in your message when you do.

Annamaria - Monday

4 April 2015                                                                                                                                                       

Dear Friends,

I wish you a Happy Easter on this rainy Holy Saturday morning. Hopefully, spring is coming to many of you in the States and the cold winter is finally abating.  Here in Tanzania, we are in the middle of the long rainy season, so the dry brown earth is all green now with revived grass.  The people are planting and all over you see shoots of green corn plants peeking out of the ground.  You surely get a sense of new life and resurrection.

But then elsewhere in the world, all you hear about is death and destruction.  We here in Tanzania are grieving for our neighbors in Kenya who have suffered the death of over 140 young students.  It feels very close to home as I realize many of those students are the same age as our older students who are with us. When I think of all the sacrifices parents have made to enable their children to attend University and all those young lives with gifts for the future development of humankind just cut off, my heart is filled with sorrow.  I wonder where new life and resurrection are.

But now I am in my office on Holy Saturday morning and I hear the cheerful voices of our students as they wash their clothes and do “big” cleaning of all the rooms in the Center.  They are happy and safe and enjoying themselves.  The number of our resident students has tripled this week as many schools have closed for 2 weeks of mid-term break.  So instead of 50 residents, we now have 150! They are all happy to see their friends as girls come to us from more than 20 different schools.  Some are meeting for the first time.  They are exchanging tales of their schools, sitting and studying together, sharing what they have learned in their different schools.

Happy to be at Emusoi

This week they received an unexpected gift—eggs.  Our neighbor, Willy Chambulo, Managing Director of Kibo Guides/Tanganyika Wilderness Camps, gave us 20 trays of fresh eggs.  He has a farm producing eggs for all his tourist camps, but the numbers of tourists this quarter have declined due to fears of Ebola and terrorists, and there is an oversupply of eggs.  Our students have benefited from this bad luck.  Many of them probably have not eaten eggs because it is difficult to raise chickens in the Maasai homesteads. So this was really a treat for them.  No one refused and all ate their hard-boiled eggs with relish and they will continue to eat them during this holiday break!

You all are contributing to the joy and safety that these girls experience when you donate to Emusoi.  I want to thank you for the contributions you made in February.  Because of your help, these girls have a chance for education rather than being married at the young age of 13 or 14.  If Emusoi did not exist, 95% of these girls would be married with children. 

In Maasai households, the responsibility for finding food for the children rests on the mother.  So these young girls, now mothers with children, would have to struggle to feed their children, instead of having the chance to develop their gifts and potentials through education.  These girls whom you are helping with go on to become the future teachers, nurses, doctors, accountants, lawyers and maybe even engineers and contribute to their families and communities.  In my mind, helping a project like Emusoi, adds to the goodness in the world which outweighs all the evil and destruction that we hear about in the news.  It is a way to build peace and harmony as girls live their lives in joy and freedom, getting a chance to be children and grow up in a safe, supportive environment.

I thank you again for your faithful support and know that you are adding to the goodness in the world at the Easter season—goodness that counteracts the death and destruction in the world and builds peace and harmony as you help these girls who have no where else to turn. You are all remembered in our prayers everyday.  Happy Easter!

With peace,

Sr. Mary Vertucci


  1. I'm not a religious person myself, and I have serious concerns with prozelytizing in general, but I certainly admire sister Mary's humanitarian efforts to help these young women improve their lots in life!

    1. EvKa, Though I was educated by sisters for seventeen years, I actually share your concerns about proselytizing, but I believe 100% in what Sr. Mary is doing. Educating girls is what Emusoi is all about. In some ways, I think improving education for girls should be a top priority in the planet. Now, having visited Emusoi, I am more convinced then ever that it is run by Catholic missionary women, but it is all about keeping those girls safe and giving them a chance to learn.

  2. I cannot remember a time in my life when our world faced greater challenges in so many disparate places and with viable leadership nowhere on the horizon. I fear for those on the local levels laboring under such conditions.

  3. It is crucial to be reminded of all those who quietly labor for good. Thanks for sharing this work.

    1. Thank you, Lausanne. Given the news from Kenya, I found Sr. Mary's report very comforting and moving. The bad news is bad indeed, but that only means that it's time to shout good deeds from the rooftops.

  4. Latest News Updates From All Over South Africa.

  5. Hey, I like your writing. The Emusoi stories are likewise a demonstration of the vision, valor and determination of this gathering of excellent young ladies. Every one understood the significance of going to class for herself, as well as for the future survival of her family and group. Originating from a society where formal training of females was seen as a danger, the Emusoi young ladies needed to battle for their educating. Notwithstanding when their battle prompted division and dependability inside of families and groups, they declined to surrender.

    1. Thank you for lovely compliments, Nancy. The time I spent at Emusoi was completely joyful. The girls were full of fun and energy--laughing, singing, and dancing as well as studying hard and showing their determination to complete their education and then serve the needs of their people. If I get down in the dumps, all I have to do is think about this positive contribution to life on earth and it comforts me.