Serving Hanga Village
One of the most important services that we provide, is an everyday effort to improve the living conditions and help aid the villagers of our surrounding community. When we first arrived, there were only 4 families living in Hanga Village. 50 years later the village has grown to over 7,000 people. This substantial growth in population been an direct result of the numerous services that our monastic community provides to this village daily. These services include, but are not only limited to providing:
Education: Our Monastery operates four different schools within the Hanga village which provide an education for a wide range of students. In the village of Hanga we have St. Laurent Primary School and St. Benedict Secondary School. Within the Monastery grounds we run the Hanga Religious Seminary, and the Hanga Vocational Trade School. At any one of our schools there are many students who are not able to cover the costs of our low admission fees. Knowing the importance of education for a successful and meaningful life, we often help these students by covering all or part of their school fees.
Medical Treatment: One of the most important services that we are able to provide the villagers is the use of our local dispensary. Many villagers do not have the money to make a necessary trip to the hospital or to buy needed medication for an illness. At our local dispensary we often offer our services and medication at no charge in order to save the lives of those who cannot afford to incur the costs themselves.
Spiritual Guidance: Part of our service to God is to make ourselves available to help individuals through spiritual guidance. Many villagers take advantage of our daily prayers and masses to seek God. Alongside our scheduled services, we often meet with individuals to help comfort and direct them when they are in need of spiritual or personal guidance. Since one never knows when this service is going to be needed, we always leave the light on and the door of our entrance hall unlocked.
Transportation: Fortunately, we are able to serve our villager’s transportation needs through two ways. Our first and more public source of transportation is the Amani Express. The Amani Express is daily bus service that has routes from Hanga to Songea and from Kitanda to Songea. When the Monastery first began in 1956, there was only one Abbey car that could be used to get to Songea. Since this was one of the only cars in the village, the villagers would often beg to get a ride to Songea, thus eliminating the 50 kilometer walk that would be needed without a car. Of course, one car was not enough to meet the demands of the villagers, so as a monastery we decided to start the Amani Express Bus Service. We currently have 5 buses that run daily to bring the villagers to Songea and another bus that brings villagers from Kitanda to Songea for a very minimal cost.
Clean Water Project: In the late 1970’s, we became aware of the enormous need for a reliable source of clean and safe drinking water for the growing population of Hanga. Before this time, the villagers of Hanga were fetching their drinking water from the Hanga River or local streams. This act was very dangerous, because this water is filled with harmful bacteria and diseases and is not safe for drinking. Therefore, we took upon the vast project of building a 12 KM pipeline from a safe water source up in the neighboring mountains.
In the early 1980’s, with funding from a German company, we started and completed phase one of this project by building a PVC pipeline that brought fresh and clean water to the villagers of Hanga. For this phase we employed local villagers as the labor force and our own monks devised the technical portion.
Unfortunately, in the late 1990’s this pipeline not only began to deteriorate, but was not providing enough water for the community. Therefore, we initiated phase two by replacing the PVC piping with larger metal ones. During this phase we also placed three large holding tanks along the pipeline to help create the needed pressure. Although this phase has satisfied most of our water needs, we still have problems of not having enough water during the dry season. Therefore, we are looking into buying tanks for each of our schools so as to store water during the rainy season, so that we can have enough during the dry season.
Milk for Kids Project: Every year, our community gladly hosts a group of veterinary students from the University of Bologna, Italy. These students stay with us for a month while they run tests on our livestock and also conduct personal research. Through this yearly exchange we were lucky enough to attain several milk cows. The aim of these milk cows was to provide each of our pre and primary students with a cup of milk each morning. Before this project started, many of the children of Hanga were not receiving the essential nutrients that their bodies needed to develop. But as our knowledge of the importance of a balanced diet has grown, we have come to realize the nutritional importance of drinking milk at a young age. Therefore, we milk our cows daily in order to provide enough milk for our 390 pre and primary students. If there is an excess of milk on any given day, it is either given to the community or sold to the villagers. Therefore, this project not only benefits the students of our schools, but also the community.