Fr Mathew Puthumana SDB, Pioneerof Don Bosco Oysterbay

Fr Mathew Puthumana SDB, Pioneer Don Bosco Oysterbay

Nothing happens by chance, and it indeed it fructified in my life as I had the joy of working almost four years at Oysterbay Technical School as it was registered in its inception. I started working with the young people of
Oysterbay Technical School in the 1990. The school was already in operation earlier first under the parish of St. Peter’s, then under the
guidance of the diocese of Dar es Salaam and then it was handed over to the Salesians of Don Bosco by the Late Cardinal Rugambwa of venerable
memory.

After his retirement, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo who still leads the diocese continued to give his support to the
school. It was ably directed by Peter Paul in the early years after the hand over to the Salesians of Don Bosco.
From the time I was asked to look after the Oyesterbay Technical school, almost three years and a half, I stayed at
Don Bosco Upanga, while looking after Oysterbay Technical School, and then having built the small house began
to stay there at the school premises.
In the beginning, when I was asked to look after Oysterbay Technical School, I was afraid because of the immensity
of the work. But at the same time I was thrilled at the opportunity to be with those young men (at that time
there were no girls in the school)and empower them to have a better life, by acquiring carpentry skills. This would
help them to build houses for others and in the process earning a living, build houses for themselves, where their
families can safely live.
Recalling those days, there was so much support from Salesians of Upanga, especially Bro. Anthony Sigamony,
popularly known as Bro. Siga, and also the other Salesians of Upanga, the delegation superior and his council. I
cannot forget the so many Salesians who were so keen about the progress of the work at Oysterbay Technical
School.
It would be a grave sin of omission on my part to forget the Late Mr Xavier Sequiera and Mrs. Xavier Sequiera
(Emily), Mr. Francis Sequiera and his team of workers who built the house and the boundary wall. The Late Mr.
Tony Miranda who was ready with help at so many critical times.
There are some others who may not be known to the wider community or to the present generation who enjoy the
fruit of their sacrifices, but without whose help Oysterbay Technical School, may not be what it is today.
One of those persons is Mr. Ben Kasege, a great personal friend, guide in matters especially dealing with government
requirements and permits. If it was not for him the house and the wall would have taken a much longer time
to get the permit to build. He himself personally went to the various offices, people and the meeting to the city
council to get the permit necessary permits, without having to pay a single cent. Thank you Mr. Ben Kasege. May you rest in peace in God’s Kingdom.

We, at Oysterbay Technical School had a mother and teacher of English in the person Mrs. De’Mello, who took time off from
her home keeping to come and teach English to the students. She was more than a teacher, she was a mother to us all, and
who was concerned about the total welfare of the students. Another silent supporter of Oysterbay Technical School was none
other than the Late Mr. Dominic, the cook of Don Bosco Upanga. I can never forget his care and concern. As Shakesphere
says, the good that men do is interred with them but the evil lives after them. Mr. Dominic was such a caring person, many
have experienced his care, but I have experience in a unique way when I started living in Oysterbay Technical School.
There are two other people whose dedication and hard work has left their imprint on the grounds of the Oysterbay Technical
School. Mr. Elias, the teacher and a football player, who taught Carpentry as well as football to the students
He is no more in the school as he has left the school. Then there is Mr. Kipingi, who is still at the school. The school celebrates
the silver jubilee, but he too celebrates silver jubilee at the school. Mr. Kipingi you have taught not only carpentry, but
you have taught all your students the meaning of a good Christian life. God bless you.
True, these and so many others helped in the growth of Oysterbay Technical School. But Oysterbay Technical School would
not have been a reality as it stands today, if not for the great young men who wanted to learn a skill and make an honest life.
They worked hard in trying circumstances and learned the skill and produced good quality furniture, which enabled the
school to keep paying our daily bills, but training materials. Most of those students of those early days are either employed or
self-employed and have a decent life. It is they who have made Oysterbay Technical School, what it is today.
One of the early priorities was to have the school registered as a Centre for conducting their trade test. As long as the school
was not registered as a Centre for examinations the students had to go to VTC at Chang’ombe to do their trade test. It was a
really a challenge as our students were sidelined and it was a challenge to do the examinations well and complete it on time.
So with the good cooperation of the officials of VETA head office, Oysterbay Technical School was recognized and registered
as a Centre for conducting the trade test, with the condition that the school gets external examiners appointed by VETA
office.
A second priority was to have the name of the institute changed from Oysterbay Technical School to Don Bosco Technical
institute. In this attempt there was no success till years later.
The early days of Oysterbay Technical School, it was very encouraging and fun to be at Oysterbay Technical School, in spite
of the many challenges that the school faced. It was really good to be with the students, a Don Bosco family of about forty
students and teachers. Everyone knew everyone else. The joys and struggles of each one person was the joy and the struggle
of everyone else. Everyone was everyone’s’ keeper.
It was encouraging, because these young students produced quality carpentry products. Due to the quality of the products, the
school had always orders much more than what the school could handle, keeping in mind that the school had only hand tools.
The students worked till sun set and darkness made them leave for home as the school had not yet been to the electrical grid.
The school was a home away from when we all ate ‘fried mihogo’ or a piece of bread with black tea for lunch. A few times
we also attempted making Ugali with the borrowed cooking pot from the wife of Mr. Elias. It tasted as good as the hunger
was greater than the need for tasty food.
As far as my memory goes there was only one student who was dismissed, because he was involved in drugs and would become
violent when he missed his dose. Honestly I did not know how to handle the case and no one was at hand to refer the
case. Even today I feel sorry when I think of him and what his life would be like today, is he alive, in prison, or still an addict?
I thank God no one was sent away because he lacked the school fees.
I would like to recall the words of St. Paul to the Romans, in 1:12, “or rather so we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s
faith, both yours and mine.” Yes, it is a source of strength to have some of the Catholic students coming early to school to
join me for the morning Eucharist. Your faith has strengthened me, and I hope mine has been a source of strength to you too.
In recalling the early days of Oysterbay Technical School, I humbly admit that I saw God’s hand working in those boys and
His guidance and protection in spite of the many infidelities on my part.
Finally, as I recall the days of my life at Oysterbay Technical School, with those young men, whose backgrounds were well
below the average, I feel it was providential for me to have been sent there for those years. More than having helped those
young men of Oysterbay Technical School, I learned so much values and lessons of life and ministry as a Salesian priest.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you each one of you students, teachers, benefactors, friends, Salesian superiors and above all, You,Jesus .

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