On Friday, April 26, 2013 I had the pleasure of escaping the business capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, for a day and travel to Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region to visit the students at Longuo Primary. However, this was no ordinary day. It was the day Lusajo Mwamakula, Secretary General of Youth Empowerment Society Tanzania (YES Tanzania) and I would meet with 69 students at Longuo Primary and hand them the gifts that traveled from Ottawa, Canada - funds for 69 school annual school fees and brand new school uniforms.
The kids greeted us with a 'thank you' song, followed by one for 'Brother Jake' (Jake Guay) and 'Father Andre' (Judge Andre Guay) whose generous donations contributed to the uniforms and paid for the 69 kids school fees for the following school year. As a local non profit, YES Tanzania played a key role in procuring the uniforms and facilitating this process from start to finish. YES Tanzania, Lusajo John Mwamakula, handed a pair of custom designed shoes to the headmistress who was thrilled with the quality. We have no doubt these shoes will weather through the storms.
I was first introduced to these kids in November 2012 and their contagious smiles stuck with me. I am forever grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to Moshi, Tanzania on a fellowship that was funded by Doctor Colin Nelson, and to have visited this school. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel to those of you who were so generous and have helped to shape this project. The kids have their uniforms and thanks to Jake Guay's March 2013 fundraiser in Ottawa, Canada, they will have their school fees paid for 2013 - 2014.
In Swahili, 'matumaini' translates to 'hope.' I have named this project 'Project Matumaini' as a symbol of the hope we have for these kids; the hopes they have for a bright future and the hope their community has for change.
I leave you with these smiles of thank you from the most vulnerable kids at Longuo Primary, in Moshi, Tanzania.
"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."
- Ethiopian Proverb