18 August 2017

Tanzania: Grand Reception Awaits 3 School Bus Accident Survivor Pupils

Photo: Marc Nkwame and Veronica Mheta/Daily News
Karatu accident survivors listen to prayers for their quick recovery from religious leaders of various denominations and other dignitaries in Arusha before departure to the U.S. (file photo)

Dar es Salaam — A grand reception awaits the three pupils of Arusha-based Lucky Vincent School, who survived the fatal bus accident in Karatu District in May, as they arrive today at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) from the United States where they were receiving treatment.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan is scheduled to grace the colorful reception that will jointly be hosted by comedian Emmanuel Mgaya alias Masanja Mkandamizaji and Asteria Mvungi.

The children--Doreen Elibariki, Wilson Tarimo and Saidiely Ismail--survived the accident after their school bus veered-off road and plunged into a river in Rhotia, a few kilometres before reaching Karatu Town along the Arusha-Ngorongoro highway, resulting into the death of 29 pupils, two teachers and a driver.

They were traveling to Karatu for an examination competition with a sister school, Tumaini Primary based in Karatu.

The survivors have been in the US since May 15 where they underwent intensive medical care in the hands of specialists based at the Sioux City Hospital in Iowa State.

The reception, to be held at KIA's West Wing VIP Hall, will also witness several artistes performing.

These will include Gospel singers Angel Bernard from Tanzania and Kenya' finest, Mercy Masika as well as the Arusha based Shangwe Voices group, according to Singida North MP Lazaro Nyalandu.

Mr Nyalandu is among Tanzanians who actively participated in seeing that the victims of the accident were attended to.

The trip was funded by the US based North Caroline non-denominational evangelical Christian international relief organisation, Samaritan Purse, and the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM).

The much awaited event will start at 7am with the arrival of family members and the general public at the airport, as well as by Hai (Kilimanjaro) and Arusha (Arusha Region) district commissioners.

A number of well-wishers in Kilimanjaro and nearby areas are expected to assemble at the airport, to have their eyes witness the miracle after the treatment of the three children went successful.

Then, from 7.15am to 7.30am, the doors will open for Members of Parliament, regional leaders, religious figures, Arusha Regional Commissioner and the US Congressional Delegation led by Mr Steve King.

Guest of honour, the Vice President, is expected to arrive at 8am ready to wait for the CD-8 plane carrying the three Tanzanian miracle children to touch down at 9am.

After the arrival, the survivors will be presented with flowers by their Lucky Vincent School peers, whereas the same will be done to the Samaritan Purse by representative of the Mount Meru Hospital where the children first received treatment before they were transferred to the US.

The event will also see the DC-8 Captain and lead cabin crew being presented with flowers by children from Lucky Vincent School, as a sign of gratitude for the role done in rescuing lives of their peers.

According to the schedule, the national anthems of Tanzania and US will be played and preceded by an exclusive performance of the invited artistes.

Parents of the survivors will have an opportunity to read passages from the Bible and Qur'an as a way to express their belief to the Almighty God, before the Bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), North Central Diocese, Rev Solomon Masangwa, and Arusha Chief Sheik Shaaban Juma lead the thanksgiving prayers.

The attending members will hear remarks from mothers of the three rescued children, before the representative of the Samaritan Purse proceeds to the podium.

Today's programme at the airport will be concluded by the speech from VP Hassan at 12 noon.

Tomorrow, the survivors and the invited guests will visit and hold a closed event at the Lucky Vincent School, Mount Meru Hospital before having a luncheon at the Mount Meru hotel.

At 2pm, the delegates will hold a press conference before the children are escorted to their respective homes.

The May accident took lives of almost three dozens of young souls who had big dreams in the mind for the future prosperity of the country.

Tears and moment of sad from thousands of mourners engulfed the Sheikh Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium in Arusha on May 8, when the last respects were paid to the gone souls, the event was led by Vice President who represented President John Magufuli.

Meanwhile, at the school, teachers and students are excited to welcome the trio who if all goes well will be seating for their Standard Seven national exams in September.

However, school head teacher Efraim Jackson said the final decision over the matter will be made by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Vocational Training.

"They have been out of school for long. For now let's focus on their wellbeing, arrival and the welcome ceremony," he said.

The school sent a curriculum to the US so that the students can receive private tutelage and catch up with their peers after returning home.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Singida South MP and co-chair of Siouxland Tanzania Education Ministries (Stemm) Lazaro Nyalandu said the whole treatment and transport bill reached $800,000 (Sh1.7 billion). "It has been an expensive endeavour, but all of it has come from good Samaritans in the US. The air journey alone reached $300,000, its way expensive we could not have afforded it on our own," he said.

The children were directly transported to US by a private plane owned by Samaritan Purse, and they are using the same plane for their return journey.

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