On Monday, May 29, 2023, Tzu Chi Mozambique handed over a school it rebuilt after Cyclone Idai in 2019. It will transform teaching and learning conditions for the children.
Tzu Chi volunteers handed over the EPC Kura, providing a much-needed solution for children forced to attend classes in the open. This initiative aims to ensure that these children now have access to the minimum conditions needed for their education, which had been severely compromised by the terrible cyclone.
In 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated the East African country of Mozambique. It severely damaged the Yama district of Sofala Province in the center of the country. In the aftermath of the disaster, Tzu Chi implemented a medium to long-term aid program; this included the construction of 23 schools.
Despite the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three years, construction continued. Recently, three schools have been completed and handed over. Among them, the new building of EPC Kura was inaugurated on May 29, much to the delight of the students and teachers. They were thrilled because they no longer have to study under the trees. Prior to moving into the new school building, the students took the initiative to clean the premises thoroughly.
Artur Félix & Ossumane Carimo
Despite the challenging study conditions, two students of the sixth grade, Artur Félix, and Ossumane Carimo, displayed remarkable attentiveness. Their unwavering focus demonstrated their strong desire to learn, despite unfavorable circumstances. These included frequent disruptions caused by exposure to the elements and the inability to have classes on days when the weather was bad.
When Artur showcased his skill with numbers, he did not disappoint. He gave his utmost effort and was met with applause from his classmates. This moment highlighted the profound impact that a good learning environment has on the lives of young students. It emphasized the significance of providing them with proper teaching materials; these will enhance the teaching and learning process at the school.
During a visit to Artur's home, he expressed his gratitude for the invaluable learning opportunities he has received despite the difficulties he has faced. (Photo provided by Tzu Chi Foundation; Kura, Metuchira, Mozambique; 2023/05)
During a visit to Artur's home, he expressed his gratitude for the invaluable learning opportunities he has received despite the difficulties he has faced. He wholeheartedly praised the school newly constructed by Tzu Chi, recognizing that it will greatly contribute to improving his reading skills and fostering his educational growth. Artur conveyed his heartfelt gratitude, acknowledging the positive impact the new school will have on his future.
Artur said that the walk of over 45 minutes from his home to school now held a sweet allure. “The school itself offers numerous attractions, ranging from the inviting classrooms to the well-maintained toilets,” he said. The prospect of attending such a well-equipped and comfortable learning environment has transformed his perception of the journey, turning it into a pleasant experience.
For his part, Ossumane Carimo, another student, said how challenging it was for him in the past. He described how sitting on the floor and returning home covered in dust were common occurrences, because of the very basic conditions at school. But, with the improved facilities, he now feels motivated to study even harder. Ossumane recognizes the importance of maintaining cleanliness as a daily practice at the school; he is determined to contribute towards that goal.
Ossumane Carimo is immensely grateful because, in the past, he struggled to understand most of the subjects taught at school. Now, with the improved learning environment, he feels a deep sense of gratitude and is eager to help his classmates who may still face difficulties. He wants to contribute to the long life of the school by spreading messages of kindness and goodwill. He has personally committed himself and encouraged the volunteers to study harder, specifically to enhance their Portuguese-language skills. This commitment will enable them to help their peers better and foster a supportive educational community.
Principal Verónica Félix
Verónica Félix da Costa, Principal of EPC Kura, highlighted the transformative impact of Tzu Chi's intervention. She said that not only was the physical infrastructure of the school restored, but also the families who sought shelter there were embraced with care and love.
Previously, the children had to study in the shade -- impossible on rainy or windy days. This not only hampered their ability to learn but also affected their relations with the teachers. Verónica expressed immense gratitude for the newly constructed rooms, saying that they will make an indescribable contribution to the children's education.
Principal Verónica Félix also emphasized the significance of the school beyond its physical beauty. She said that it served as a tribute to the compassion of Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, whose ideals are ingrained in the school. Verónica pledged to honor this legacy by diligently maintaining the infrastructure and ensuring that the Jing Si Aphorisms and teachings of Master Cheng Yen are instilled in the students every day. By nurturing these values, the school aims to cultivate and restore positive habits that will benefit the students and the community as a whole.
The establishment of the new school has caused an overwhelming sense of gratitude. This extends not only to the volunteers who offered their unwavering support but also to those who contributed to turning this vision into a reality. These volunteers have been with Mozambicans every step of the way since the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai on Sofala. They have closely followed the progress and dedicated their efforts to make the new school possible.
There is immense joy and satisfaction that Master Cheng Yen has graciously provided a school that is worthy and ideal. It ensures that the children of Kura will receive the education they truly deserve. The happiness stems from the fact that this school will serve as a nurturing environment where the children can learn and thrive, fulfilling their potential under Master Cheng Yen's benevolent guidance.
Significantly, on May 27, the children of EPC Kura took part in cleaning the new school premises. Under the guidance of the education director, they diligently received instructions from Eng. Leonel Papel on the most effective methods to maintain spotless classrooms and ensure the cleanliness of the entire infrastructure. This proactive involvement of the children reflects their commitment to creating a hygienic environment that is conducive to learning.
Leonel not only provided explanations but also demonstrated through practical examples, ensuring that the students fully understood the cleaning procedures. He emphasized the importance of using specific clothes for different surfaces such as walls, doors, and floors, while also teaching them when to use dry or wet clothes. Additionally, Leonel guided them on the appropriate use of brooms, imparting knowledge about the ideal tools for maintaining cleanliness throughout the school premises.
During the event, the children showed immense joy. They were driven by a profound understanding that the love of TZU CHI has come to transform their lives. Their enthusiasm was evident as they wholeheartedly embraced the teachings imparted to them on the importance of taking care of their school.
In the spirit of cleaning and representing the collective happiness of all the children at EPC Kura, Jossai Manuel described their shared purpose. He expressed their commitment to cleaning the new rooms, driven by the desire to ensure that their school remains organized and conducive for classes. Their goal is to create an environment that fulfills their long-held dreams of studying in optimal conditions.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of EPC Kura highlighted the significant impact that the improved infrastructure will have on the teaching and learning process. The school board made a solemn promise to educate and instill in the children a sense of responsibility for maintaining the school, a vow that was reaffirmed by the director. The deputy director emphasized their commitment to regularly organizing lectures for the children; they aim to foster a sense of ownership and motivate them to participate actively in the school's upkeep. They firmly believe that the school should serve as a catalyst for the development of the community, the district, and the province and add value to many parts of society.
In his concluding remarks, the speaker of the day, Engineer Leonel, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to spend time with the children and educate them about the importance of maintaining the school. As the school was in the delivery phase, he was particularly impressed to witness how easily the children assimilated the lessons without difficulty. This experience led him to a profound realization that, despite their different experiences, children possess an enormous potential that can be unlocked when they are guided by adults who are willing to teach and truly believe in them.
Inspired by love and gratitude, let us fill the world with warmth. The purpose of education is nothing other than love and gratitude. We hope that this wave of love will radiate in Mozambique forever.
A Jing Si Aphorism says: “True religion lies in the emphasis on human education and social education that nurtures wisdom and compassion.”
Join Tzu Chi. Let us spread love tenderly.
Story by Elson Bie from Mozambique