Serving the Vulnerable in Tanzania

Living in Tanzania. That’s what Stephen Pope is doing.

After graduating from Roxbury Latin, Boston College, and working for a few years, he is now serving as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Tanzania.

I just stumbled upon his blog, in which he has started to chronicle his experiences. It’s a fascinating read.

After a few searches, I’ve learned that Stephen is working at a school for children with disabilities. Here is the description from the Maryknoll site:

The most vulnerable of East Africa’s millions of at-risk children are those with disabilities.  Traditionally regarded as a family disgrace, or even as a sign that a family has been cursed, many of these children are cast aside by society–and sometimes by their own parents, who are unable to provide them with the degree of care that they require.  Rarely do disabled children in Tanzania have the opportunity to pursue even a basic education.

“Literally you are barred from coming to school if you have a disability,” says Maryknoll Lay Missioner David Rosser, a certified teacher with a concentration in special education.  But at Huruma School for Children with Disabilities in Mwanza, Tanzania, kids with special needs are embraced as human beings who also have gifts to share.

As special education advisor at Huruma (which means “compassion” in Swahili), David sees students who are blind, deaf, autistic, epileptic, paralyzed, or developmentally disabled as unique revelations of the Word Made Flesh – the utterly vulnerable Christ Child in our midst.  David and Huruma staff help Huruma students get the education and support services they need so that each may develop to his or her own full potential.

What Stephen is doing certainly is counter-cultural. I suspect the experience will change him and the many people with whom he is meeting and working.

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