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St. Marcellin Day Secondary School, Chibuluma, Zambia

 

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10/04/2010: Zambia

 

St.The school is 20 km away from the nearest town which is Kitwe, another town is Kalulushi which is about 8k and Chibuluma the smallest town is about three or four kilometers while Ndola is about 45 km. Errands for the school are bought either from Kitwe or Ndola.

It is surrounded by five poor compounds where most of the youth come from and walk to school.The first headmaster is a Zambian bone fide, Br. Evans Musakanya. He truly actualizes the chewa proverb which says, “Mchepera ndi wa kalulu, mtima ndi wa njobvu.” Which literally means with a body of a hare size but with an elephant heart.” He looks small physically and relatively short but has a big heart as an administrator. Like Brother Louis at Marlhes in 1819 he has instilled discipline in pupils which is observable and employed tactfully the cooperation of fellow Brothers and lay friends. In Africa team work is the strength of a good leader. Like fish men who pull together a net full of fish, Evans finds his strength inside it and things are working well. We have never heard of any complaints challenging his way of administration. Jomo Kenyatta, the pioneer President of Kenya coined a Harambee philosophy as a way of working closely together where people could contribute generously to pull others from the mess of poverty. We the chewa say, “ Mutu umodzi susenza denga.” That is, one head cannot lift a roof, but the collaboration of many hands. Some say one finger cannot kill a louse.

At the same time he believes in the chewa proverb that says, “ Ukakwera pamsana pa njobvu usamati kunja kulibe mame.” That is to say, when you are on top of an elephant do not say there is no dew on the grass outside. This adage helps us to appreciate all those who did the background work for this school to look the way it is now. History books should edit the names Angel Mansoa, Mundo Puente and Felipe Moreno who have been behind the project we see in front of us. They had been in the fore-front. Br. Angel Mansoa was briefing us at table before leaving for the Airport, saying that when the project’s decision was taken, we were in the new Province, Southern Africa Province. The former Province of Spain had washed off its hands and was not keen to finance the project. Brothers then turned to the new Province. The new Provincial had one response which was clear, “The Province has NO MONEY to fund the project.” For you and me probably, we would be discouraged and perhaps despair and give up the whole thing and not consider it as God’s will. Are the poor youth of the compounds not according to the vision of Champagnat? Basing on this reasoning, they resisted the despair temptation and asked permission to look for funding from friends and well-wishers. The provincial knowing that it will not drain the Province pocket readily gave permission. Letters to diverse benefactors and friends were sent for the youth centre project. The response was very encouraging and positive. For a good a cause St. Marcellin was not guided by prudence but by faith. He was never afraid to get debts. Would you doubt how many creditors assembled at the Hermitage when his illness was about to claim his life prematurely? Wasn´t Brother Stanislaus the first one to consult the possible helpers like Father Derveux of St. Chamond when Father Terraillon refused to be the heir? Faith can make us overlook prudence. Indeed where there is a will, there is a way. Today all of us bow our heads to these pioneers and benefactors for their courage to put up a such a big educational institution among the poor rural people. The name St. Marcellin confirms that it is within the vision or the plan of our Founder who considered the rural place for Marists among the neglected people.

The challenge will be the possible future invasions by the rich from the townships mentioned above.

The school is offering an excellent academic excellence to the neglected compound boys and girls. It has also a skill training side to help school dropouts to acquire a survival skill in a jobless Zambian society.

As the school officially opens tomorrow, the 8th of May, we want to clap hands for all those who had worked hard day and night to bring up a project of this particular nature. To the pupils, my advice is, “Take advantage of your school by working hard. Follow the good advice of your teachers. Run away from the Happy Gang behaviour which can ruin your future and make your perpetual beggar and dependants. Like St. Marcellin esteem your teachers and be open with them. Do not overlook your life of prayer. The name of your school is under the protection of a saint who had poor students at heart and was allergic to pupils like Jean Baptiste Montagne who were ignorant of religion. Imagine at seventeen years old and he did not know there is God! Look at the messengers around you who put God first in their lives and take them as your models in putting your trust in God. Develop a critical view on what you see in the media, especially those that may directly or indirectly wish you mislead you with negative unsaintly stuff. St. Marcellin was against the abuse of beer and the taverns at Lavalla were deserted at his advice. Pray for those who abuse beer like St. Marcellin did for Rebod who lessened a bit. Check dances like Waltz which can mislead you to pre-mature sexual behaviour that can lower your moral life and end up being sexual addicts. Check on the books you read and avoid all that can encourage you to be slaves of immorality. Be generous too to your fellow brothers and sisters in the future. Do not be afraid of manual work even when you ascend in life! Make resolutions from time to time to be good Christians and good citizens and evaluate them from time to time.”

For us Brothers and staff, we have a big job. These young men and women will owe their good behaviour from us. Let us take all possible steps not to be Jean Claude Maisonneuve. He was the first teacher of our young pioneer Brothers at Lavalla. In 1818, his behaviour was becoming a scandal to the young Brothers and St. Marcellin was left with only one option, that was to dismiss him and put in there Jean Marie instead. Let us take the advice of Pope John Paul II seriously, “ Young people close their ears to what they hear but open their eyes to what they see.”

Louis and Antoine Couturier at Marlhes made wonders because they had sat down and shared on how to help the pupils best. No wonder, the mayor of St Sauveur had asked the Brothers to open a school in his Municipality in 1822. Champagnat always recommended a good example as the first pedagogy of all teachers. Parents have trusted us by giving their pupils into our hands, let us be good shepherds who look after them with affection and love that comes from the appreciation of our work. Let us give moral support to Brother Evans as the Director of the school. Champagnat avoided backbiting even when Father Jean Baptiste Rebod reprimanded him in front of the congregation and the early Brothers. Self control was his way of dealing with authority and shielded him everywhere. Respect of authority was a top priority for Champagnat. Let us avoid all that can undermine the authority of the Director. Long Live St. Marcellin Day Secondary School! Long the Brothers and Lay Marist staff! Long live the pupils of St. Marcellin! Long Live the benefactors! May St: Marcellin help us all to become good family members with concern and care for each other.

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Brother Simeon Banda, fms, Matola, Mozambique

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