Dear Friends,
I greet you all on behalf of St. Mary’s community.
Beginning on a personal note, I am happy to inform you that on November 12th, 2011 I celebrated 25 years in the priesthood. It was a day of thanksgiving and a lot of celebration in my village community. I am grateful to the Lord for the years he has allowed me to serve his people as a priest.
At St. Mary’s, we opened the new academic year on January 31st, 2012 with 130 students. This is an increment in the enrolment from 101 students we had last year. We hope they will stay with us.
I wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to each and everyone of you for the support you give to our school with your prayers and financial support. Allow me to extend special thanks to the pastor, Fr. Jesus Cuadros for his love and support to our mission. Out of that same love and concern he connected our school to his friends of the “First in Service” Group led by Mr. Fernando Gonzalez who have donated to us $ 5,590 so that we can purchase more land for the school. We have already cleared and planted one acre of this land.
I would also like to express our thanks to the individuals who send us donations now and then. I do not want to mention names but I have to say they have assisted us to keep the school running by paying the teachers and meeting several other expenses of the school; we are very grateful to ALL of you.

CURRENT PROJECTS

The Gardens

I am glad to inform you that our existing gardens have been able to provide us with corn and beans which help us to provide lunch for the teachers and occasionally for the students. We hope in the near future we can be able to provide daily lunch for our students as well.
On the new piece of land we have acquired, we have planted pineapples, a plant that does well in this part of the country and has constant market. We purchased 10,000 pineapple seed-lings. If all goes well, after 18 moths we should start harvesting the pineapples.

Work on the Classroom Block

As I informed you sometime back, we started using the classrooms before they were completed due to urgent need. However, we have embarked on the work of improving them by plastering them and finishing the floors. We are doing this for the good health of our students and teachers. The unfinished classrooms have been collecting a lot of dust which attracts jiggers, causing a health threat. I am happy to inform you that with the donations from you, we have been able to work on two classrooms and now they look neat and decent for learning.
However, we still have a lot of work to do on the remaining classrooms, the verandah, the porch and the outside of the school building. I hope with the funds we have in our account we can work on the classrooms but we will need more help to work on the verandah ($617), the porch ($540), the outside plaster ($980) and the paint ($480).

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

The biggest challenge that we have at the school is the payment of teacher’s salaries. Normally private schools like ours depend on tuition as the major source of income to pay the teachers and to buy text books and other scholastic materials. But due to the poor economic status of our parents, our tuition at St. Mary’s is extremely low ($20 a year). When we combine this problem with the small number of students we have, we find ourselves unable to meet the teacher’s salaries every month. Faced with this kind of situation we often find ourselves using the donations we get from you to pay our teachers. (Although some of this money may have been collected for other projects!!). We hope one day we will be able to put up a money generating project to assist us in the payment of the teachers.

A FINAL WORD OF THANKS

As I conclude this letter I would like to thank you once again for the sacrifices you make in these days of economic challenges. Indeed with your sacrifices we able to assist several children in our community who would never learn to read or to write; we are very grateful for this love and concern for us. May God bless you always.
Fr. Expedit Sserunjogi