Katoke in its 24th year! Sid & Marilyn send Christmas greetings

The Katoke Trust is in it’s 24th year. We are delighted that despite the coronavirus pandemic, our work continues to make an impact on one of the greatest challenges of our time –  the injustice of poverty in the developing world. We’re doing it with the generosity of our donors and a sense of gratitude to God. Before the year draws to a close we wanted to reflect on some of the highlights of 2021. Thank you for being part of this life changing journey. 

Transition of head to Sid and Marilyn from January 2021 
We were delighted that Sid and Marilyn Moir could return to Katoke in early 2021, to lead the Katoke-Lweru Secondary School, following a 6 year tenure back in 2009 to 2015. Returning for another two years shows a remarkable commitment. They have a special focus on guiding the school towards the appointment of the first Tanzanian Head.  We were delighted to be able to catch Sid and Marilyn over zoom recently – we shared a short video in our last email which will encourage and inspire you. 

Sid and Marilyn had a very busy and productive start to the year, overseeing enrolments, sponsorship of students and scheduling of staff and initiatives for the coming year. Support for the return of Sid and Marilyn has been most encouraging and the number of students now supported by sponsorships has risen to an all time high. Sid and Marilyn have had the joy of meeting many of their former students. They have been overwhelmed by the sense of gratitude that the ex-students express to those who have given them a hand up. Dormitories and Classrooms have been painted and interest in KLSS as a place of learning and Christian compassion is positive. See a short Christmas message from Sid and Marilyn below. 

VIDEO: We were delighted to be able to catch up with Sid and Marilyn recently over zoom. Here’s a short Christmas Message from our dear friends in Katoke. 

Form 4 graduation in September & Form 6 graduation earlier in July
On Tuesday 21st September, 90 students (43 boys and 47 girls) at Katoke-Lweru Secondary School celebrated their graduation from Form 4 (Year 10). The ongoing pandemic meant that celebrations were more subdued than previous years with only fellow students in attendance. However there was still much energy and delight with a morning graduation ceremony, a lunch and disco. The night finished with many watching a local football match (Simba vs Yanga) on the brand new 43-inch TV recently purchased for the School (a very special treat in Tanzania!). 

Our form 6 students also graduated earlier in the year on the 16th April 2021. External exam results for these students showed significant improvement from prior years and there was a material rise in our overall regional ranking which appears to have resulted in a higher number of students sitting for the 2022 entrance exams.

Academic results in July
In July 2021, school results were released. We were pleased to hear that Katoke -Lweru Secondary School performed in the top 25% of the 55 schools in the district in each of forms 1 to 4 (13th in form 1, 14th in form 2, 10th in form 3 and 13th in form 4).   

Alumni student stories 
We recently shared the stories of Anivea Derickson (2018 graduate) and Nelson Mubezi (2017 graduate). Anivea completed a degree in Human Resources (click here for full story), and Nelson, former dux of KLSS who lost his sight is now completing further studies (click here for full story). Another student, Faraji Mwazagi completed medical studies and has now qualified as a Doctor of Medicine.  There are many other student stories and achievements we could tell. With the generous help of supporters, the Trust continues to encourage students into tertiary studies with the provision of loans and grants. More than 100 students have been assisted into advanced studies and the achievements that have been nothing short of amazing.  A number of students who have qualified are now working for the school in various capacities.

CAPTION: Anivea Derickson, 2018 graduate (LEFT), Nelson Mubezi at his keyboard, 2017 graduate (RIGHT) 

Care and grow projects 
The Trust continues to support initiatives to reduce the incidence of malaria and HIV and has also funded a program for a group comprising more than 20 women to raise and sell chickens and eggs to alleviate poverty.

  • Vanilla growing, a crop we brought to this area 18 years ago, started well but then the international market price dropped and the project languished.  But now prices have lifted, and there have been 9 well attended field days this year on local farms with many farmers learning ‘Vanilla-How to’.   
  • Malaria Prevention (KROMP) was conducted in 3 new villages with very high infection rates.  Nets were provided free to some of the most vulnerable:  pregnant mothers, children under five years and  the aged. 
  • AIDS Prevention continued strongly.  Over 200 people from 5 villages attended a two day prevention program presented by TADEPA – the Tanzania wide body that specializes in such workshops. The focus was on youth.

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
The School has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the ongoing constraints and challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Careful COVID safe-management at the school has kept staff and students free from infection. The School now continues with COVID-19 precautions, with extra teaching time and with a full range of school activities.  We are grateful that there have been no cases of the illness at KLSS.

Under the country’s new leadership by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, there has been significant improvements in the handling of the pandemic at a national level, with vaccines made available and encouraged. Following this, Sid and Marilyn, who had gone before vaccinations were available in Australia, were able to get vaccinated, much to our relief.   

Through the generosity of many the Katoke Trust was able to financially support the school through another challenging year, providing more one-off sponsorships than ever before. 

Ks for Katoke in 2021 ran again
They say teamwork makes the dream work, and another huge result in 2021, with over $100k raised is a credit to the many thousands of kilometres travelled by our Ks for Katoke participants and the many donations received from their generous supporters. We were also overwhelmed by the generosity of those who were unable to participate physically in the challenge, but generously supported the work of the Katoke Trust! Whether you participated or made a one off donation, we say “Asante Sana” which means thank you in Swahili!

Many hosts held their own “Dinner at home” over the past month
While we look forward to gathering altogether in person under one roof in 2022, we are so thankful to those who supported the 2021 Annual Dinner at home by hosting or attending a ‘dinner at home’.

Volunteer opportunities in 2022 and beyond 
There are many opportunities to join our committees back here in Australia, as well as opportunities in Tanzania at KLSS. At present we are seeking assistance for the following roles:

  • Finance, Fundraising and Communications assistance in Australia
  • KLSS Building project management expertise to assist with maintenance and planning for new buildings (such as staff accommodation). 
  • KLSS School Director who would go from Australia to work beside the Tanzanian Head

Without your ongoing help, none of this could be possible. Thank you for partnering with us in 2021.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we thank God for the inspiration and provisions to continue our work in Katoke. 

Christmas peace and joy,

Alan Watson                                             
Katoke Trust for Overseas Aid            

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