Gongali Village School

Gongali Village School
children at the Gongali Village School, built by Primary Schools for Africa in Nov/Dec 2010

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Edith Gvora High School Grand Opening
Gongali Village, Karatu, Tanzania

 December 11, 2014

Member of Parliament Hon Rev. Israel Natse on left;
District Executive Director Moses Mabula on right

the audience, many of whom will be future students at this school
The grand opening took place on 5 December, the day after I arrived at Karatu. Unlike previous openings of school buildings attended by only middle level politicos, this one was different; the Member of Parliament, Mr Israel Natse and the District Executive Director, Mr Moses Mabula arrived, demonstrating the significance of this project. And it was certainly that; phase 1 of a new high school with 4 classrooms, and administration building and a modern toilet building. On my part, I also invited two English holidayers I met on the plane , Mike Hughes and Peter Coleman, who had expressed a keen interest in experiencing the ceremonies. 

Alan's speech; Mathew translating
At my turn to speak after several standard political speeches, I thought I would start out with a simple opening greeting, the first line of their national cultural song; “Tanzania, Tanzania, nakupenda kwa moyo wote”. Surprisingly, as if to a cultural cue, all the seated kids in the audience stood up and sang the complete song. Not what I intended, but a delightful outcome. Following is an excerpt of my speech:

“You may be wondering so let me tell the story of how we chose the name of the school.  Edith Gvora is the wife of Mr Tony Gvora from Victoria, Canada. She passed away one year ago. Mr Gvora wanted to show not only his deep love for his wife Edith but his appreciation of her life of humanitarian work, so the result is this wonderful school named in memory of her. Next year you may be able to meet Mr Gvora when he comes to visit a class in progress. And we know that he will be very impressed not only with the quality of these buildings but the enthusiasm of the new students pursuing their educational dreams…”
boys and girls dance and singing

A group of boys and girls then treated us to very rhythmic singing. That  was followed by the customary “jump dance”, a circle of men and women jumping up and down to energetic drum-pounding by several women. The two English guests and I were invited to join in , and to this day, my efforts to match the changing beats of the jumping continue to amuse the locals.

We then did the official ribbon-cutting to boisterous cheers and whistles, toured the buildings and lastly, were interviewed by Tanzania’s Star TV. 

Star TV interview of Alan, Mathew and
District Executive Director Moses Mabula
The Administration Building
All four completed new buildings.
Two 2-classroom buildings in centre, Admin Bldg at left, Toilet Building at righ

Not enough applause can be given to builder Restus Ernest for the outstanding quality and successful scheduling of this project. The level of workmanship of every trade is unprecedented relative to our previous projects; smoother plastering, increased structural concrete and foundation work, better trusses, higher quality doors, windows, hardware, and even the choice of PVC gutters over the standard rustable metal ones. It has been a rarity in my 35 years of design and building to have witnessed such professionalism, problem-solving initiative, leadership and respect from sub trades. THANK YOU, RESTUS!!
I chatted with Mike and Peter after everyone left. Their beaming smiles said it all; an unforgettable and unprecedented experience for them.  Their 200 USD gift for the school was greatly appreciated. 

L to R; Peter Coleman, Alan, Mike Hughes,
Builder Restus Ernest
Regarding the project’s process, this phase one is only the start. The village and local government have so much to do. The erosion gully was one major problem and a local work crew managed to fill it in nicely, but much remains; landscaping, planting, electricity and water supply, and the problem of registration of the school without the required laboratory facilities. Everyone is very optimistic though, and willing to work hard to ensure success. For example, the District Education Officer is proposing to use one of the classrooms as an interim laboratory. We’ll have to see how that pans out.

December 20th is my visit to Qameyu Village for the opening of the three buildings there; the new Patricia Elizabeth Primary School. Restus is the builder for that one as well and he reports that it is 95% complete - an amazing feat considering he started it only six weeks ago in a difficulty accessible remote area. The next update will tell its story.

End of Update.