In 1967, at the invitation of the local bishop, Missionaries of the Precious Blood travelled from Italy to Manyoni, in the central part of Tanzania to establish small mission stations. The work of the missions was not just spiritual as the local people lacked access to clean water for drinking and cooking, primary and secondary education opportunities and access to healthcare. Financial support was needed from Europe and North America. In 1973, under the direction of Brother Anthony Canterucci, a Mission Office was set up in Toronto to raise awareness and funds for development projects in Tanzania. From the very beginning the vision was to encourage young people to get involved and ‘help others help themselves.’
Brother Anthony, Director of CPPS
In 1975, Catholic High School students in Ontario raised funds to purchase much needed farm equipment for the missions. On the Easter weekend of 1975, over 120 students from all across the province participated in a starve-a-thon for 40 hours. By collecting sponsorships for each hour they went without food, the students raised over $12,000 to purchase a tractor for the mission area of Manyoni in Tanzania. After reflecting on the success in raising awareness and funds for a small community in a remote part of Tanzania, one of the parents, Mrs. Ferrari, put forward the idea of actually sending some students to see first hand, what life is like in Tanzania and how the church is involved.
After a year of hard work raising funds and awareness of the missions in Tanzania, seventeen students travelled to Tanzania for a two month summer experience. Working side by side with the Missionaries and with the local Tanzanian people, the students helped to construct one of the first windmills in the mission field. Erected in the village of Doroto, 15 kilometres from Manyoni, the windmill enabled people to have access to fresh, clean water right in their village, rather than having to walk many kilometres to a dirty pool of ground water. In addition to the windmill, the students also helped to build a primary school in the village of Mikiwa.
As a result of this experience of development work, CPPS Mission Projects was born. A bond was formed between the people of Canada and the people of Tanzania. The students returned to Canada, energized by witnessing the determination of the people of Tanzania to survive and enjoy life to the fullest. Presentations were made to various school, church and civic groups to increase the awareness of how people in the developing world were living. Fundraising campaigns were initiated to help support the building of more schools, both primary and secondary and the construction of windmills to bring clean drinking water to the central region of Tanzania. During subsequent years, groups of students from various parts of Ontario traveled to Tanzania to work on other projects that helped to build windmills, primary schools and medical dispensaries.
Some of these students made a commitment to return to Tanzania for a couple of years at a time and work with CPPS Mission Projects in Tanzania. Through the dedication of these lay volunteers, a team of Tanzanians was established and trained in the drilling and constructing of windmills and hand pumps. CPPS Water Projects was born. Headquartered in Miyuji, in the northern part of Dodoma, the Water Project Compound serves as a maintenance yard for equipment, storage for windmill parts, and the site of the office that oversees a staff of 25 Tanzanians. At the present time there are two windmill teams, once based in Miyuji, the other in Manyoni.
Peter and Ana Schwingshackl
Up until recently, the Water Compound was under the direction of Ana Hook Schwingshackl and her husband Peter. Ana first visited Tanzania in 1981 and returned in 1989 as a midwife at a maternity clinic in Chibumagwa, where she worked for many years. Having met her husband in Tanzania, Ana raised her two children in Miyuji. From 1995 to 2007 Ana, among other things, ran the business side of CPPS Water Project, while Peter was hands on with the drilling and construction of windmills. In 2007 CPPS Water Projects said good bye to Ana and Peter and their daughters Ally and Nati. We wish them well in the new chapter of their lives in Italy.
Over the years, other students returned to Tanzania to serve as lay missionaries in the area of healthcare and education.