By Anne Marie Amacher
Sponsoring orphans so that they may continue their education, building infrastructure and adding wells in his African homeland keeps Father Juvenalis Mutalemwa Ndaula busy. The priest from Tanzania, Africa, has been raising funds for those three objectives while he has been a full-time student at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
Parishioners from Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Anthony and St. Mary parishes in Davenport contributed almost $10,000 in 2008 to pay primarily for the education of several orphans.
Fr. Ndaula said many of the orphans have had one or both parents die from AIDS. If one died of AIDS, the other parent often left the family.
Fr. Ndaula strongly believes in education. He served as a superintendent of schools in Tanzania. His bishop encouraged him to come to Davenport to further his studies in education.
“My objective is to build a strong future,” Fr. Ndaula said. “I was seeing kids lose direction. With education, they build a stronger generation and better future.”
So, when he came to Davenport, he began his project by seeking donations to help pay for schooling for orphans. This includes funds for uniforms at St. Peter Claver English Medium Primary School, which he helped open.
His folder in Davenport contains dozens of applications for financial assistance for children. Those applications include information about the student, family and why the student wants to go to school. A picture is included.
Father smiled as he looked through the applications. He sees hope for the future. But he was saddened to see so many children who had no other family than their siblings. Three applications were from two brothers and a sister who wanted to go to school together.
A secondary objective is to raise money for infrastructure. The school continues to grow in both number of students and additions to the school.
When Fr. Ndaula and Father Tom Stratman, a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport, visited the school last year, Fr. Stratman was surprised to see single-room schools with books on the floor, Fr. Ndaula said.
Books along the outer wall on the floor were “library books” and since there are no shelves, the books sit on the floor. “We need a library,” Fr. Ndaula said.
In addition to a library and more classrooms, Fr. Ndaula plans to have housing for the teaching staff. “Some rent a house three miles away. “They walk, but during the rainy season, that is a big issue.”
A third issue to be addressed is a well. Currently the school has one well, Fr. Ndaula said. Because of the number of students and amount of water needed, the priority is: cooking, followed by hygiene (bathing, washing) and then drinking.
“Porridge is important for breakfast.” He said it provides nutrition and hydration.
But the one well limits what can be done and it dries up during the dry season. He said the school has to buy water and have it brought in.
A second water well, even a third, would allow the school to do so much more. “We could have a garden. We could grow vegetables that could be served with meals. We could grow different vegetables year-round.”
The minimum cost for one well is $5,000.
Following a presentation at Sacred Heart Parish in Lost Nation, the parish raised about $1,200 toward that project.
Fr. Ndaula plans to visit a school in Dubuque where students are going to be encouraged to donate a dollar they may otherwise use toward a soda. That money could help children have water at St. Peter School.
“My ministry as a priest is to help,” Fr. Ndaula said. “When you see the younger generation suffer, you can see every single dollar make a difference.”
For more information or to make a contribution, contact Fr. Ndaula at (563) 324-0298, or in care of St. Vincent Center, 2706 N. Gaines St., Davenport, Iowa, 52804.
Fr. Ndaula said he has receipts from the school that the money sent in the past has been received and it is notarized by a second person each time. “The kids are benefiting.”