Pamoja's Grand Opening!!
Pamoja had our Grand Opening ceremony on Thursday! It was crazy busy and a complete circus since most details are done last minute resulting in near heart palpitations for us anal planning types but we made it through!! Our team leader had the most work as he gave a speech, entertained the high up important people, and ran around organizing everything. The rest of us were sorta like his roadies and tired to help the best we could. I scrubbed windows, cleaned, bought ribbon, organized the students for pictures and entertained the girls (no small feat for a 6 speeches in a row). Jason set up chairs, made certificates for honored guests, video taped the ceremony, and helped with kid wrangling. Miss Annikah was even given a special job to hand the scissors to the honored guest for the ribbon cutting. She was stellar and pretty stoked she would be on TV! Plus, she got so much attention being the adorable Mzungu kid she is (I am telling you she works that angle for sure)!
Anni loved her big job..handing the scissors to the watu waheshimiwa (the respected people)
The "official procedures" were tiring and at at times boarded on ridiculous (ie. we had to have a certain size picture of the president in the office, special seats for certain people, etc) but I think we managed to negotiate the rules and cultural norms without too many Wazungu mistakes thanks to the local school planning and helping us with so much. This partnership also meant lots of BIG surprises; a 50 person band showing up last minute, a cancellation of one honored guest thus meaning we had to erase the plaque and re-do it the DAY OF the ceremony. A bit stressful to be sure but we chose to just laugh and then get to work. But it also meant there were really lots of hands working together to make the day a success and we could not have done it without their help. And even if things were not all as we planned I think the spirit of partnership, cooperation, and togetherness was what it was all about. Watching the first round of students proudly sitting watching everything made everything worth it for me. This is their school and they were so excited to see all the pomp and circumstance! It was an exhausting day but we are so excited the vocational training center is officially open and we can now really begin serving students, empowering staff, and hopefully blessing people here! As we reflect on the last two years it has been amazing to see the favor God has given us with the government, the partnership with the local schools, and the team effort this place has taken. We were so excited for our team leader and his wife since this project has really been their baby, given birth by much sweat, sacrifice, and patience. Hans even teared up during his speech which really shows just how dear this little school has become to us. As we were finally leaving after the ceremony and thanking people for their help so many people said "hamna shida, tuko pamoja" (no problem, we are together) and I think that about sums up our prayer for this place. Karibuni Pamoja!!! We are now official!!
erasing the sign last minute and printing the new guests of honor names. Flexibility required for living here :)
the military band arriving....yep...they all were crammed into a truck!
guests of honor arrive
guest of honor table
so many good friends came to support us
our amazing friend Gerry from Chicago who gets mad props for coming out to attend the ceremony! He was one of 5 Americans (counting our family :) in attendance
tours of the school
the English department
guests enjoying soda and snacks
first official round of students at Pamoja!