Students, staff will bring technology to African village

Friday, May 25, 2001

Lacey, Wash. - Students and staff from Saint Martin's College will soon embark on a trip that will bring a little bit of the 21st century to a remote part of East Africa.

Sister Beatrice Kapinga Sister Redemista NgonyaniOn July 17, Sister Beatrice Kapinga, O.S.B., Sister Redemista Ngonyani, O.S.B., Susan Leyster, director of the Saint Martin's Spirituality Center, and Leyster's son Bryan, a senior computer science major at Saint Martin's, will head for Chipole, a small village in Tanzania, Africa.

For Kapinga and Ngonyani, two Benedictine nuns who have been studying at Saint Martin's College for the past two years, the trip to St. Agnes Convent will be a long-awaited trip home. Kapinga is working toward a degree in education and Ngonyani is working on a degree in theology at Saint Martin's.

"We will be working with the orphanage and school run by the St. Agnes nuns in Chipole, learning about the Tanzanian culture and performing research," Leyster said. "What's really exciting though is that Bryan will be working to set up a solar-powered computer for the nuns there because their village has no electricity.

"They need a computer to establish ties with the outside world and maintain regular contact with us."

The group will also collect soil samples, which will be evaluated by students with the Saint Martin's Engineering Department in designing a building for the village.

This is the first trip of its kind for Saint Martin's students and staff. Leyster hopes it will evolve into an exchange program between Saint Martin's students and the orphanage and schools in Chipole.

"This pilot trip will allow me to find the information necessary to organize future trips to Tanzania," Leyster said. "We hope that our engineering students will be able to travel to Chipole next summer to construct the building they designed."

Because it is the first, Leyster is still seeking financial support.

"Due to time constraints, we have been unable to organize as many fund-raisers as we would have liked and money is going to be tight," Leyster said.

Contributions are being accepted by the Saint Martin's College Finance Office where an account has been established for the Tanzania trip.

For more information call Susan Leyster at 360-438-4381 or e-mail her at leysters@stmartin.edu.

For more information:
Christina Ramírez-Milhoan, communications specialist
Saint Martin's College Office of Communication
360-438-4541 or cramirez@stmartin.edu