counterUkupno posjetitelja4763133
The Kivumu Secondary School – A Triumph of Good People’s Hearts!
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 Written by fra Ivica Perić

Željko Garmaz, fra Ivica Perić, Maja Sajler GarmazMore than a year ago, when my dear friends, Željko Garmaz and Maja Sajler Garmaz, contacted me announcing that they were coming to Rwanda to write a book about me and the missionary work of Croatian priests in East Africa, I replied like I always do when people ask me about such stuff: “You just come!” I hadn’t given the book any thought at all, because I’d heard all kinds of promises before. You see, impelled by my own naivety, on one occasion I even agreed to stick a shovel in the ground and place the cornerstone for the future secondary school in order to indulge a TV crew. Of course, it never got any further than that shovel, and the promised fundraisers were never realized by anyone.

I’ve known Željko and Maja for a long time, and I trust them completely, but... I retained the right to feel reserved about the completion of the whole thing. And so, last year they came, bombarded me every day with interviews for a whole month, and we drove across entire Uganda and Rwanda. I felt relieved when they finally left. I thought that it would be a major success if they succeeded in realizing one quarter of what they were intending to achieve!

And then there was silence. Then, late last year, Željko and Maja called me once more and said: “Fra Ivica, we have just finished printing the first books and, with them still warm, we are driving to your home town. There is no going back now!"

I must admit I was overwhelmed with euphoria. Especially when I saw with what energy my friends had thrown themselves into distributing the book. They renounced all profit from it so that it can be used to build a secondary school in Kivumu and, in doing so, to realize my, but also fra Vjeko Ćurić’s, dream. I was regularly informed about their numerous promotion activities. I have to admit that they complained that they had to do everything by themselves because they didn’t receive the expected support from the Franciscan community. They didn’t give up, the books were taken where needed, every single day they sent packages from Osijek to people all over the world who wanted the book.

Watching it all from Rwanda, I was delighted with the book’s success. These children, who are destined to live in poverty, nonetheless deserve a better future. And they can achieve it only through education which will be provided to them with the construction of a secondary school. From time to time, I checked the account balance in the local bank, and I was constantly reassured that the book had motivated a huge number of people! The book became a medium for people to show their goodness. I was proud!

That is why I didn’t hesitate one second when Željko and Maja – in cooperation with my friends Drago Blažević, Rudo Mijoč, fra Ilija Vrdoljak, Predrag Mijić, and others – invited me to come to Vienna for the presentation of the book. It suffices to say that the books they had brought with them were not enough to satisfy the interest that the story about the construction of the secondary school had caused – the books were sold right to the last one; and it is also noteworthy that the two thousand people present at the Sunday mass kept interrupting me with their applause. And then, when we took a stroll through Osijek, we were recognized and greeted by people on the street. In Osijek I also gave 10 interviews in one day to all kinds of TV and radio stations.

Honestly, while it was all very flattering and I was glad because of the book’s success and the people’s incredible reactions, I admit – I was scared! Not literally. After all, I am a friar who had lived in villages without electricity for almost 22 years and is not used to such publicity. For me it was strange to be patted on the shoulder on the street, and for something that, after all, is my mission and something I had chosen by going to Africa.

A few days ago, Željko and Maja called me again. They said that they would like to come to Kivumu sometime around Easter. I replied as always: “You just come!” and I announced that we would officially stick the shovel in the ground together and – this time for real! – start the construction of the secondary school. By the end of the year the first phase of the construction will be completed and we hope as many as 300 students will be able to start their free secondary education. And if the book continues its journey to the homes of all those who want to help, it seems that very soon we will raise the funds necessary for the completion of the school!

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

Foto galerija

Father Vjeko Center

copyright © 2005-2024 • All Rights Reserved • Web concept, development and maintenance by Edvard Skejić