Kristian Bollmann provides an account of his trip to Tanzania
The first project trip since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic was like returning to the beginnings of the foundation – in Tanzania. In July 2021, Kristian Bollmann from the PATRIZIA Foundation visited the KinderHaus facilities in Peramiho and Songea, where he met up with our partners who run the facilities. He also inspected the newly built PATRIZIA Primary School Songea.
Abbatial ordination in Ndanda
It was a packed agenda: visit four facilities in just over a week. Then there was the abbatial blessing of Father Christian Temu in Ndanda, my first stop in Tanzania and a day’s drive from Dar es Salaam airport. Before his ordination as abbot, Christian Temu OSB was missionary procurator of the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien. The Benedictines are partners in the first ever foundation project, the PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital in Peramiho, which opened in 2002. We were delighted at the foundation to be invited to the abbatial ordination, especially because it could then be combined with a visit to our facilities in Tanzania.
The ceremony began in the morning with a procession, followed by a church service before the official ceremony took place in the afternoon. Among the numerous visitors were also many guests from the Archabbey of St. Ottilien, as well as Benedictines from a variety of abbeys in Tanzania. In the evening, there was a joint dinner, which offered a good opportunity to talk to a number of key representatives of our partners in Tanzania. It was also a chance to exchange thoughts on different projects. The next day I still had time to visit Ndanda Abbey. I was guided through the abbey by Brother Paul.
A visit to Sister Elisabeth in Peramiho
The trip to Peramiho was another day-long journey by car. It was there that I met Sister Elisabeth of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing. She has lived in Peramiho for 35 years, where she worked at the hospital. Wolfgang Egger met the missionary sister during his first visit to Tanzania in 1999 – an encounter that led to the establishment of the PATRIZIA Foundation and the foundation’s first project. In 2002, the first PATRIZIA KinderHaus facility opened there – a hospital ward for seriously ill children and young people. PATRIZIA Children’s Hospital Peramiho stands directly adjacent to the mission hospital of our partner organisation, the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien. As Sister Elisabeth would be celebrating her 80th birthday at the end of September 2021, naturally I brought greetings and gifts from the Egger family and the foundation, which she was delighted by.
A new primary school in Songea
It only takes 30 minutes to drive from Songea to Peramiho. There are four foundation facilities in the two towns. I was to visit all four after meeting up with Sister Elisabeth. The first on my agenda was the foundation’s newest KinderHaus facility, PATRIZIA Primary School Songea, which is an elementary school for roughly 500 children. The school is located on the same site as PATRIZIA Child Care Songea. Both facilities are run by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing. They also helped build the school, but due to coronavirus travel restrictions, it was only now that someone from the foundation was able to travel to the school for an official inspection. Even though some parts of the school are still under construction – for example, there are no outdoor facilities – it already entered use at the end of 2020, and almost 380 children now attend lessons there.
Lessons were well underway when I arrived. Accompanied by the head, Sister Hildegard, I visited several classes, followed by an inspection. I really like the spacious, well-ventilated and bright classrooms, where currently 35 to 40 children receive lessons. By supporting the construction project, the PATRIZIA Foundation has made it possible for the school to be set up. It is a good complement to the existing children’s home and kindergarten.
The children’s home in Songea
PATRIZIA Child Care Songea was set up in 2014. The facility spans three buildings, offering a home and shelter to orphaned children. Currently around 30 children are lovingly cared for at the facility. They also have the opportunity to receive an education, as the facility is located directly adjacent to a Montessori kindergarten and a preschool. It is clear from the way the Benedictines use investments at the facility that they have long-term interests in mind. It’s good to have such partners on the ground!
The children’s hospital in Peramiho
My next stop took me back to Peramiho and St. Joseph’s Hospital, which is connected to the PATRIZIA Foundation children’s ward. It was here I met Dr Mushi, who has been working at the hospital for over 30 years. He told me about one of the main challenges faced by the hospital: funding treatment for the children has become more expensive, but it is only being partially subsidized by the government; in addition, there are strict preventative measures due to Covid-19. To implement these measures, the PATRIZIA Foundation supported the facility last year with money from the coronavirus emergency relief fund. This made it possible to equip all entrances with handwashing facilities, and staff were provided with protective clothing and hygiene items.
Besides seeing the hospital itself, I was also able to visit the dormitory annex of the nursing school. There are 174 care students at the school, where they undergo three years of training before becoming a nurse. The building is in urgent need of renovation and it lacks a large hall for exams. It remains to be seen whether this could become another foundation project.
A dormitory for the girls’ school in Peramiho
Another foundation facility was opened in Peramiho in 2017: PATRIZIA School Peramiho, a secondary school for girls with a boarding school annex. In partnership with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing, who run the school, the PATRIZIA Foundation has erected a new building on the site, including accommodation. The extension has also allowed the school to expand, so it now also offers biology, physics and maths lessons – important prerequisites for studying towards a science career. Roughly 350 girls attend the school, opening the door to further education.
I bade farewell to Peramiho with my thoughts occupied by two potential new projects, numerous positive impressions and many wonderful encounters. It was a very intensive visit and despite having so little time to prepare, everything went well. One thing that is also clear is that it’s extremely important to have on-site meetings with our partners.