Same. The head teacher of Mother Teresa of Calcuta Girls Secondary School revealed yesterday how he managed to ensure that Anna Zambi was kept in the dark over the tragedy that took the lives of her parents and three other siblings on October 26.
The 16-year-old girl, who completed her Ordinary Level education recently, lost her parents, Lingstone Zambi and Winifrida Lyimo, and their three other siblings, Anna’s two young sisters Lulu and Grace together with her young brother, Andrew.
The five had left Dar es Salaam for Kilimanjaro Region to attend Anna’s graduation ceremony that was to take place before she (Anna) sat for her Form Four examinations at the Roman Catholic-run school in Same District.
A private car in which they were travelling in was swept away in floods following incessant rains in Handeni District, Tanga Region.
With only two days before the examinations, relatives and teachers agreed not to inform Anna of the tragedy so that the sits her examinations.
It was not until Saturday, November 16, when a wave of grief and deep sorrow rolled through relatives and mourners who had gathered for hours to receive Anna and take her to the graveyards of her parents and three siblings.
And speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Fr Christopher Mboya said he spent sleepless nights during the entire period the young girl was writing her examinations.
To ensure that she remained uninformed of the tragedy until she completed her final Form Four examinations, Fr Mboya said the school management ensured that there was a complete communication breakdown at the school.
“I convened a meeting for staff members and informed them to ensure that the tragic incident remained a top secret and that any member of staff who would talk on phone about the tragedy would be held personally liable,” he said.
In breaking communication, he said, all students were no longer allowed to watch television on the pretext that it was examination time and that they must always be busy with books.
“We kept the internet disconnected at the computer lab…We ensured that no visitor was coming to our school. We have our former students who come to collect certificates. In view of the tragedy, we decided to transfer the venue for collection of the certificates from inside the gate to the main entrance, right at the gate,” he said.
“I spent sleepless nights for three weeks, thinking about Anna. I have served as a priest for 13 years. During this period, I have encountered several hardships, but I must confess that this was one of my hardest moments,” he said.
While keeping a close contact with family members, the school got several views from education stakeholders on how they would reveal the bad news to Anna.
“So one day, we agreed that a relative should come and we informed Anna that the person X would come and pick her to a wedding ceremony. We agreed that the relative should come with a cake, which he did. We said bye to her after cutting the cake and eating it together with her teachers and fellow students before she left for home,” he said.
Psychologists say Anna now needs to undergo spiritual healing so that she can effectively respond to the planned psychological treatment.
They say religious leaders must be close to Anna and tirelessly tell her that it was nothing, but the will of God that decided the fate of her parents and siblings.
A psychologist from the Regional Psychological Support (Repssi), Mr Edwick Mapalala, told The Citizen yesterday that Anna will have to go through five steps in the healing process, the first being a faith-building approach.
“Most of the issues that people are struggling with about Anna do not make much sense to her. She does not think about money, property or anything else. She only has questions about her family and that is where help should start,” he said.
A medical doctor from Temeke Hospital, Mr Fredrick Doya, said denial is the first thing that comes to someone who has received bad information.
Thereafter, they tend to become angry at what happened. The third stage is to be at the crossroads.
“At this point, one can either accept the outcome of what happened or not,” he said.