The Catholic University of America

Feb. 11, 2010

CUA's Gift of Books and Computers Arrives in a Grateful Tanzania

   Textbooks and computers collected by CUA volunteers helped the Brothers of Charity establish an academic library in Tanzania. 

Weeks of volunteer work have paid off after a donation of books and computers that were collected, packaged and shipped by Catholic University and its students arrived at its final destination - the Brothers of Charity in Kigoma, Tanzania.

In a letter to CUA's president, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., Brother Kaunda Constantino acknowledged receipt of the special shipment of educational materials.  "If we have a good library in Kigoma today, it is because you believed in this project, and for this we are so grateful," wrote Brother Constantino, director general of Ahadi Foundation, which supports the brothers' work.

Last May, CUA volunteers organized by the Office of Campus Ministry loaded more than 7,000 books and 20 computers into a shipping container that was bound for Tanzania. Students had spent weeks collecting the materials, which the 200-year-old Belgium-based religious order is using to establish an academic library in Kigoma.

Delivery of the shipment was delayed in part because of complicated logistics, including the lack of paved roads in western Tanzania where Kigoma is located.

With his correspondence, Brother Constantino sent photos that showed the shipping container arriving at the compound of the Newman Institute of Social Work, books sitting on shelves in the institute's library and students holding a large thank-you note to CUA.

Students at the Newman Institute of Social Work now have access to social work, nursing and education textbooks.

In a separate letter to Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., university chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, the Newman Institute's Students' Organization extended its thanks, saying the books and computers will be indispensible to its studies.

"We hope that the books and the computers will be of use to the whole region because there was no library there," Father Schlageter said after learning that the shipment had arrived. "We're hoping the little library on the Brothers of Charity land will become a place where a lot of people can get and read books."

The books, which included social work, nursing and education textbooks and theology titles, were cataloged in an online database before being shipped. The online catalog also will allow neighboring educational institutions to search for and check out books, Father Schlageter said.

"The gift you have given us is the best that a young, growing and ambitious institute like ours can ever receive," Brother Constantino wrote to CUA. "It is now up to us to put it to good use. We have no excuse for not delivering academically because we have been given good working tools."

CUA students became aware of the brothers' need for a library through a Campus Ministry mission trip to Kigoma. The trip was prompted by CUA's 2007 sponsorship of the $1 million Opus Prize, which the university awarded to Brother of Charity Stan Goetschalckx to honor and support the humanitarian work he leads in Tanzania.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.