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The Construction of the Secondary School in Kivumu has begun!
Friday, 04 May 2012 Written by Administrator

The Construction of the Secondary School in Kivumu has begunThe arrival of stone-laden trucks and the excavation of the foundation by more than 50 workers marked the beginning of the construction of the secondary school in Kivumu, Rwanda. With it – just four months after the publishing of the book entitled ‘Our Man in Africa’ (Croatian: ‘Naš čo’ek u Africi’) written by the couple, Željko Garmaz and Maja Sajler Garmaz (both journalists, married to each other), which ellicited an enormous public response of donations to help build the secondary school – the dream of the missionary priest fra Ivica Perić, and also his late predecessor fra Vjeko Ćurić, has begun to be realized.

According to the contractor, the first phase of the construction will be completed by September of this year.

The school will consist of two separate buildings, which will be joined in the middle. As a sign of gratitude, the various classrooms will bear the names of regions in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and two of those will definitely be Ploče and Osijek, the birth-places of the authors of ‘Our Man in Africa’.

The first phase will see the construction of a building that will be around 800 square metres, with eleven classrooms and several other accompanying rooms. This first-phase of construction will cost a total of about €130,000 for its completion.

The entire first building (“phase one”) should be finished by September, and by the end of this year (December), fra Ivica Perić plans to equip and furnish the classrooms so that they will be able to take in the first 120 students. That way they can begin studies in January when the school year starts in Rwanda.

After that, every year, another 120 to 150 students will get the opportunity to enroll in the school. It will be a “secondary technical” - or High School.  Secondary education in Rwanda lasts for six years. The students will be able to choose among several courses, like computer science, electrical engineering, civil engineering etc...

A good portion of the funds necessary for the first building has already been raised thanks to the authors of ‘Our Man in Africa’ who completely renounced the earnings from the sale of the book and donated all the proceeds for the construction of the school.  Željko Garmaz and Maja Sajler Garmaz were actually just in Rwanda, where they went to witness the beginning of the construction of the new school.

Fundraising actions will continue, because more funds need to be raised for the completion of the first building, and also for the second phase which is going be around 1000 square metres in size and which will have 10 classrooms, a library, a reading room, a teachers’ room, and offices for the school staff. For this purpose, a charity organization has been founded in Croatia called ‘Heart for Africa’ (Croatian: ‘Srce za Afriku’) and which connects directly to this project of fra Ivica Perić.

Fra Ivica Perić, who has been a missionary in Africa for 22 years, has been living in the village of Kivumu, in central Rwanda for the past nine years.  He has a lot of experience in educating children because has been director of the existing Padri Vjeko Center vocational school in Kivumu, where youth are given the opportunity to learn trades like tailoring, brick-building, carpentry etc.

Fra Ivica Perić: “I am immensely grateful to all the good people who responded in such great numbers to the fundraising action for the construction of the secondary school. I would have never been able to do it all by myself. What these children are getting is a chance for free education, and that is something priceless. You see, as a missionary of many years, I realized – and I also try to translate it into action – that education is the only chance for survival and advancement of African children. These children don’t need handouts; they need to be taught how to fight for a better future.”

Željko Garmaz: “We arrived at the realization of fra Ivica Perić’s dream through the realization of our own. Ever since we visited Rwanda for the first time we have sought a way to help. We wrote a book that has reached many homes, and with it we started an avalanche of goodwill to help the children of Kivumu. We will not stop at the book alone. We have already prepared other actions through which we will try to mobilize even more people to help us finish the school.”

Maja Sajler Garmaz: “I didn’t expect it all to happen so fast. In just four months we have managed to create a miracle thanks to the goodness of numerous people from all over the world. I am thrilled, because during our four stays in Rwanda in the last five years I have come to realize that education is potentially the only way out of poverty in which the majority of Rwandans and their children currently live. When you see those tiny hands, tattered clothes and bare feet, it motivates you to try to help them in any way possible. And education is the best possible long-term help you can provide."

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

All who would like to join in the fundraising action for the construction of the school can make payments in Croatian Kuna (HRK) to Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank account number (in Croatia): 2500009-1101366453. The recipient’s name is: ‘Humanitarna udruga Srce za Afriku, Kralja Zvonimira 15, Osijek’; and for the purpose of payment simply write: ‘donacija’.

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