By Paula Fournier
On June 30, eight young adults and two parents from the Diocese of Prince Albert left Canada for a six week mission to bring clean drinking water to a community in need by building a windmill powered well through the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (CPPS) in Tanzania, Africa.
The CPPS Mission Projects is a charitable organization in Canada, dedicated to helping people in Tanzania help themselves through the two main areas of education and water, as stated on their website. In 1967, at the invitation of a local bishop, the religious congregation travelled from Italy to Manyoni, located in the central part of Tanzania, to establish small mission stations. The primary focus of the missions was to provide access to clean drinking water, as well as opportunities for primary and secondary education. In 1973, a mission office was set up in Toronto to raise awareness and funds for development projects in Tanzania.
CPPS Water Projects began providing fresh water to remote villages through windmill powered wells which provided a free source of energy to pump water to the surface. In other villages, hand pumps and electric pumps were installed. At present time there are two windmill teams based in Miyuji and Manyoni.
In 2012, the Prince Albert Pastoral Centre sent invitations to parishes and schools in the Diocese to attend information sessions about the upcoming mission to Africa. Approximately twenty high school students and adults initially signed up for the mission to Africa.
Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr. (Missionary of Africa), who lived in the Africa for thirteen years teaching and carrying out parish ministry, had always wanted to send people on a mission to the country. After hearing about missionaries travelling to build windmill powered wells, he contacted Fr. Anthony Canterucci with CPPS Mission Projects.
"My hope for the missionaries is they would discover the reality of other people, that others are not as fortunate as we are and through that, they would learn to put into perspective their own life and help to maybe change their life and learn more about Africa.”
Past director of Youth Ministry, Warren Dungen, helped coordinate the mission, bringing team members together. Presentations were made at high schools and parishes in the Diocese. In the end, the final team consisted of two parents and eight young adults: Deanna and Jamie Johnson from Hudson Bay, Roxanne and Kayla Richards, Mathew Derworiz, Vanessa Agira, Katelyne Bohmann, Danica Beaulac, and Nina Nahachewsky from Prince Albert.
Together the group discussed the overview of the mission, planned group activities, fund raising events, prayed together, shared thoughts and hopes, designed a blog page to journal their daily routine (padiocesetanzaniamission.blogspot.ca) and created a team t-shirt to identify their group during fundraising activities and during their stay in Africa.
Dungen felt it was important to have a well prepared team that would lay the foundation for their overall mission experience.
“If they were given opportunities to pray and reflect on the purpose of their mission, to share the vision of the group with others and seek support, this in turn would put the mission experience into perspective. As missionaries, they embarked as ambassadors of their community, parish, diocese and in the name of the Roman Catholic Church.”
He hoped that each missionary would allow themselves to be transformed by the Holy Spirit to discover more of God’s plan for their life.
“They went with the intention of “giving” the gift of water and life to a village in Tanzania. It was my expectation that each would return with fresh eyes and hearts fully alive to serve God in a renewed way. I am sure that they will appreciate more and treasure many memories and friendships made.”
Missionary Vanessa Agira from Prince Albert, spent sixteen days during the middle of June in Nairobi, Kenya visiting family she has met for the second time in her life. During her visit, she wrote the rest of the missionaries on Facebook, describing Africa as ‘unpredictable’.
“Preparing for this mission trip was difficult, even though I was born in Africa. My way of thinking, living and body are all Canadian. My hopes for this mission trip are to be able to share and grow in my faith, help provide clean drinking water, bring hope to Tanzania and that God opens my eyes to new avenues of service for him.”
On June 30, the missionaries left Saskatoon for Amsterdam and the reached Dar es Saalam, Tanzania in the early hours on Tuesday, July 1 the next day where Brother Anthony Canterucci, CPPS, founder of the CPPS Water Projects, picked them up in the truck used for mission work, an army truck.
Brother Canterucci, affectionately known as “Bro” has helped build over seven hundred wells and windmills in the area. In 2008, Canterucci made the decision to buy a factory to build windmills locally with their employees, rather than sending for supplies to Italy. Twenty five windmills have been built through the Dodoma compound since 2010. Due to the CPPS Mission Projects, water is now provided to 1.5 million people every day due to the CPPS Mission Projects.
On the group’s daily online blog, the young adults described their driving adventures, travelling through the dense jungle, living in a desert for six weeks, visiting and giving food and clothing to orphanages, group homes and swimming in the Indian Ocean, among many other adventures.
Every work day began with an hour’s journey in the dry desert, in the back of the army truck. Vanessa Agira and group parent, Roxanne Richards, helped shovel and toss cement into buckets while local cement workers cheered them on. Once buckets were filled halfway, Tanzanian women carried them away on their heads, to the amazement of the Canadian missionaries.
On July 9, major construction of the windmill began for the five hundred children and three hundred adults in the village of Nala.
Missionary team member and seminarian for the Prince Albert Diocese, Mathew Derworiz, explained the process.
“We began by digging four foundation holes, about one meter deep. We carried 50kg bags of cement and mixed it with sand and water, filling foundation holes with the mixture and rocks. We left for the night to give the cement a chance to set.”
The group decorated the fins for the windmill with Canadian flags and wheat sheaves to represent Saskatchewan.
On July 11, the initial drilling to two hundred feet in depth for the well was discovered to be greatly inaccurate. The water drilling unit was forced to dig over three hundred feet. In the meantime, the group continued mixing cement for the four post foundations of the water storage tank, followed by digging a deep trench using pick axes. Team members described the ground as extremely dry and hard and villagers willing to work hard.
Celine Grimard, missionary from Prince Albert, wrote on the blog, “Most people walk over a distant mountain to get water because some just can't afford to buy water off of a water truck for three hundred Tanzanian shillings.”
She described how the water not used for building purposes that day at the work site was given to smiling villagers, since some had not bathed in weeks.
Team member Katelyn Bohmann described the scene, “They were lining up, waiting for hours to get their hands on this water. In Canada, we line up and fight for new gadgets, cellphones and video games; we take clean water for granted. We need to stop and be thankful for what we have.”
One group parent from Christopher Lake, SK, Roxanne Richards, wrote to those in Canada who inquired about specifics on who provided money, material and labor describing how the Tanzanian citizens had considerable input.
“Our group of ten raised the money and paid for the cost of the well and the windmill. However, the main focus of this organization is education of locals and giving opportunities to control their own destiny. Both men and women from the village come to help mix and haul concrete, helping to take ownership of the project.”
She stressed all workers are local, including the daily cooks, those who did laundry and housecleaning, drivers, carpenters, welders, painters, masons and administration, describing them as both Catholic and Muslim. Both men and women from the village come to help mix and haul concrete, helping to take ownership of the project.
Elizabeth, a CPPS Mission Projects employee who has worked in Tanzania for approximately three years, helps villagers understand their responsibilities with the well after work is done. The villagers appoint an agent who keeps track of pails of water sold, each selling for 100 shillings, which is approximately seven cents Canadian. The disabled and elderly are frequently able to attain water free of charge.
Richards wrote, “Please remember, this is fair, and what most people can afford. The agent must keep records of his sales, as well as receipts. They meet every month to discuss the financials. The money they make will be used for any maintenance and repairs that may need to be done to the windmill or holding tanks.”
The final height for the tower was the standard three stories tall, the tallest structure in the village. A winch was used to lift up the motor and heavier parts, a pulley was used to bring up blades one at a time. The first water tank was built by covering a mould with burlap sacks and layers of wet clay, seventeen days after they first arrived in Tanzania, Africa.
The team waited in anticipation as pipes were connected to the well. When the last pipe was joined, the entire group ran to the well to experience the exciting moment. As water was pumped to the surface through the power of the windmill, the group was overwhelmed with emotion. The team wrote their blog together that day, describing the smiling faces that surrounded them and how grateful they were to have been part of the extraordinary experience. One member jumped around excitedly, spraying everyone with water. Some felt it was witnessing a miracle, like the water in the desert.
The group was struck at how much locals are willing to help the team mix and carry cement. CPPS religious member, Fr. Tim Coday, encouraged the missionaries to accept help from the villagers, explaining that then the locals would be proud and take more ownership of the well project.
A few days later, the team put their hand prints in paint on the cisterns with the words Majikwa Maisha meaning “Water for Life”. They delivered hundred pound sacks of rice to the Brothers of Charity, a home for mentally and physically disabled men and boys who have been abandoned due to their disabilities, and played soccer with village children. They visited Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity compound as well, where orphans, the physically and mentally disabled people are cared for. In the tradition of Mother Theresa, the sisters continue to leave their home to look for those who have been abandoned.
The missionaries visited a leper colony in Sukamahayla, experienced a small earthquake during the night, and attended mass at a local parish. Missionary team parent, Deanna Johnson from Hudson Bay described the celebration.
“There is lots of African singing and dancing. Children danced in front of the altar while the choir sang. They come in dancing and singing for procession, presentation and recessional. Afterwards, they fed us breakfast.”
They visited the town of Manyoni, birth place of the CPPS Mission, where a trade school is operated by the congregation to train young men in mechanics, auto body and carpentry.
On August 1, Bishop Thévenot arrived in Africa to visit the mission team. During the special celebration for the completion of the well, Bishop Thévenot spoke Swahili to the village while village women danced for the group.
Several of the young ladies were taught by villagers how to play traditional drums, while others held babies. Locals presented the team with a goat as gift. It was explained that in Tanzanian culture, it was a very special gift.
“From this experience, it is nice to see how we can help others have a better standard of living, just through clean water. It’s a big relief for many women and their little girls who carry water, they don’t have to drink ground water from somewhere,” said Bishop Thévenot.
He hopes that with the enthusiasm of those who returned from Africa, the Diocese will be able to promote another trip in the future.
“We have to take their enthusiasm and make it contagious, to help others be inspired,” he said.
On August 6, the Tanzanian mission team left the compound in Dodoma, saying sad farewells, heading to Mikumi National Park to go on safari, touring the historical Slavery Museum in Bagamoyo, and enjoying handcrafted Tanzanian items at the Mwenge Carver’s Market, returning to Saskatoon on August 15.
Speaking as all missionaries had upon their return, team member Danica Beaulac from Prince Albert wrote, “This has been an amazing six weeks and I will miss every person I have met here. This experience has really changed my perspective on life and has made me feel grateful for everything and everyone in my life. I can't wait to come back here one day! Tanzania will forever be in my heart.”
On April 25, 2014, Brother Anthony Canterucci, CPPS, founder of the CPPS Water Projects, received an awarded for forty years of bringing development, water, health and education projects to Tanzania. President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete presented the award at a ceremony at the Tanzanian State House.