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Marist Bulletin - Number 10

 

A generous response in solidarity with Goma
16.02.2002

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First Marist aid arrives to support recovery efforts in Goma and Bobandana

The International Bureau of Solidarity (BIS) staff at the General House in Rome have provided the following information concerning efforts to aid our Marist Brothers in Goma and Bobandana, Dem. Republic of the Congo.

A SINGLE APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR GENERAL FOR ASSISTANCE
The February 4th letter of Brother Sean Sammon SG to the Brothers in all our Provinces has been widely shared with our lay partners, students, members of fraternities, families and friends of the Brothers, alumni groups and others. Responses pledging financial support together with expressions of solidarity and concern for the Congolese people and our Marists working side by side with them have been coming in to BIS from all continents.
There has been a very generous response to our appeal to build the Tent School in Goma. As a focus for their Lenten observance, a number of Marist Schools around the world have chosen to commit themselves in solidarity with the Congolese people by means of education awareness programs, special prayer services, and financial support.
The dominant sentiment has been one of affirming the Congo District Councils decision to provide continued schooling for the young people who need to finish their academic year - a truly courageous project given the limits of our human resources and the lack of infrastructure available in Goma.

LAUNCHING THE TENT SCHOOL PROJECT IN GOMA
Planning for this project to provide two classroom sections for different age groups is well underway. It is hoped that difficulties can be taken care of by the end of February and the school reopened soon to accommodate many students preparing to graduate from our College Mwanga in Goma. One difficulty has been securing canvas tents large enough for the required classroom space - the first supplies available through a donor turned out to be too small. Brothers on the scene are going to contact some firms and organizations in Kigali, Kampala and Nairobi to have 20 large tents available as soon as possible. Purchasing basic classroom furnishings has been another challenge. Some furniture is now en route to the school site, and in fact one shipment arrived two days ago.
The major challenge at the moment is in securing an adequate water supply since storage tanks and transport vehicles are not yet available. As we all know, for reasons of health a reliable water supply is essential for reopening a school. Directors of the project are giving top priority to solving this problem.
Many teachers have returned to the area and are willing to recommence classes in the new Tent School along with our Marist Brothers.

RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF OUR BADLY DAMAGED SCHOOL IN BOBANDANA
As indicated in our February 8th UPDATE 108, violent storms destroyed a significant part of our Marist-administered school in the very same Congolese diocese some 20 days after the volcanic eruptions in Goma. This was another serious blow for our Brothers of our District in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo. We are happy to report that an examination of this school by a government engineer has been scheduled so that the structural integrity of the schools classrooms can be verified very soon.
There is a immediate need to replace some walls and also a dining room and one classroom in Bobandana. A detailed budget requesting aid for this school has yet to be drawn up, but BIS expects to receive one shortly. Results of this will be included as part of an overall appeal for aid to Goma/Bobandana presented by Brother Sean Sammon SG instead of introducing a separate appeal.
Let us continue to pray for the Congolese people: those affected by the volcano in Goma and the storm in Bobandana, and those throughout the entire country who are working for peace while doing their best to endure a long-drawn-out civil war. Let us also pray in thanksgiving for the generosity of people from every continent who are supporting our Marist family as we stand shoulder to shoulder with people in great need. The Congolese peoples own solidarity with one another during these trying times continues to be a daily source of strength and inspiration for all of us at BIS.

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