Local Leadership

Tumaini Tanzania has always been driven by local needs, rooted in local relationships, and guided by local leadership.  Students in Sakila created the organization by seeking out academic support--not only for themselves, but also for the neighbors they knew most needed help.  When American families offered to provide scholarships, Tanzanian parents and grandparents insisted on matching the funds as much as possible, selling their crops and livestock despite having little to spare.  For over ten years, local teachers have sacrificed evenings and weekends to tutor and encourage our students, while local administrators have identified and orchestrated systematic initiatives to strengthen education in the region.  And as we celebrate our oldest students' graduation from university, we also celebrate their commitment to their community as they return to Sakila to mentor the next generation of Tumaini scholars.  

These local efforts are spearheaded by four talented, hardworking, trustworthy, and selfless individuals: Mr. Msoffe, Mr. Mayo, Mr. Kiwale, and Mr. Mafia.  Msoffe is the headmaster at the Sakila Secondary School; Mayo and Kiwale are senior teachers at the Sakila and Nkoanekoli Secondary Schools, respectively; and Mafia (Emmanuli) is a Tumaini graduate from our first class of scholars who is now working in nearby Arusha.  Each of these men dedicates his time and personal resources--on a completely voluntary basis--because he cares about this community and understands the power of education to uplift its children. 

Our local partners really stepped up this year when, for the first time in over ten years, Tumaini's American Board members were not able to travel to the region.  On their own initiative, Msoffe, Mayo, Kiwale, and Mafia organized the annual workshop, bringing together all the students and parents of Tumaini for a series of conversations about how to continue to strengthen our organization.  The picture above shows Mayo addressing the group, joined at the front of the classroom by two parents whom the group appointed to be chairman and secretary.  I've included a few pictures below of some of the students and parents who participated in the event.  

I am so very grateful to these local partners for leading our organization with commitment and integrity, and I am thankful for the example they provide to our students. Would you consider partnering with these Tanzanian friends as they kick off a new semester?  As always, we would appreciate--and put to direct use--any donation you could make.

A Weary World Rejoices

A weary world rejoices.

Our students named our organization "Tumaini" -- "Hope" in KiSwahili -- because of their firm belief in a future in which the brokenness they often experience is mended. That redemptive promise motivates their studies: They learn with enthusiasm so they can one day help to loosen the grip that poverty, disease, social inequities, corruption, and the splintering of families hold over their communities. They're in the difficult in-between; glimpses of that restored future provide real joy, but those glimpses come in the midst of real hardship. As we sing each year during this Advent season, fixing our hearts on Truth and Light even while literal darkness extends over more of our days: "A weary world rejoices."

Our weariness feels especially heavy right now because we are grieving the loss of two precious members of the Tumaini family: my friend Livingstone Mafie and my grandmother Ann Nye ("Mama Ann").

Livingstone (far right of photo) was part of the first class of Tumaini scholars.  I got to know him when he was finishing primary school in 2006-2007.  His father had died many years earlier from an illness, and though Livingstone was brilliant, his sweet mother could not afford the fees to send him to secondary school. We -- including Mama Ann and her generous community in Mullins, SC -- raised funds to allow Livingstone to begin Form One in 2007, and we have supported him over the 10 years ever since. 

Livingstone became a leader in our organization, encouraging us to accept new students, visiting homes to help us translate for parents, leading workshops to motivate younger classes, and constantly identifying new ways for us to best equip our university scholars.  He also would regularly send emails to pass along his appreciation, to excitedly share a picture of a school project he had completed, and to let us know that he was praying for Tumaini's American community. 

Thanks to your generous support and his perseverance, Livingstone earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at St. Joseph University College of Engineering in Dar es Salaam, one of Tanzania's most distinguished universities in its capital city.  He was due to graduate at the end of November.  Sadly, one week prior to the ceremony, Livingstone was involved in a car accident as he traveled from Dar es Salaam back to his village, Sakila.  He died, along with the three other passengers.

Just a few weeks before, Mama Ann passed away peacefully at a hospice facility near her home in South Carolina. Mama Ann deserves much of the credit for Tumaini's founding.  When I lived in Sakila in 2006 and lamented that the primary school's library shelves were empty, Mama Ann marshaled her relational and financial resources to send boxes and boxes of books. When I relayed that most of the smart and hardworking students I had befriended would not be able to attend secondary school, 

Mama Ann was the first to offer a check -- and to invite her friends to do so too.  Together with her beloved Macedonia United Methodist Church, she never relented in her fervent support for these Tanzanian families to whom she was bound in love and prayer, despite having never met them in person. Mama Ann's legacy lives on in her family and in the impact that students like Livingstone have had and will continue to have on their communities.

We are weary. We miss these dear friends and family. And yet, we rejoice because we hold tightly to the same hope that motivated and united Livingstone and Mama Ann.  This Advent season, would you consider helping us to extend that hope, and to advance a mission they both so cared about, by contributing to the meaningful work Tumaini Tanzania is doing?  We would be grateful for any gift you're able to provide.

Asante sana na Mungu awabariki,

Tumaini Tanzania

Recapping Our Tenth Annual Trip

Dear Tumaini supporters:

This past summer, Lide, Duncan, and I journeyed to Tanzania on our annual visit to see the students, families, and communities that you are supporting. While it was only my second visit to the country, it was Lide’s tenth and Duncan’s eighth since our organization was formed in 2007. Every year, this trip inspires in us a fresh appreciation for the kindness, intelligence, and resolve of our friends in Tanzania, and a renewed thankfulness and humility as we reflect on your generosity as supporters of this community.
Below are a few highlights from our trip – please feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to hear more. As you read, will you consider investing in these students – by making a gift online today – so they can continue to invest in and create hope for their own community?

Contribute now

Our Tanzanian friends send you their love and thanks, and they want you to know that they pray for you regularly, as do we.
Asanta Sana and Mungu awabariki (Thank you and God bless),

Erik Stiller
Tumaini Tanzania

Ten Years of Visits to Sakila

Ten Years of Visits to Sakila

Ten Years!! This year marks the tenth annual visit to Sakila since I moved from Tanzania in 2007.  As I prepare for next week’s trip, I do so with immense gratitude for, and in tremendous awe of, the relationships that have formed over the last decade. Tumaini Tanzania began because friends in the United States and East Africa sincerely cared about and cared for each other.  It has been a privilege to watch that partnership deepen and expand over the past ten years as the power and promise of genuine relationships continues to drive our mission.

Abundant Gratitude, Sincere Relationships

Abundant Gratitude, Sincere Relationships

Dear Tumaini Family,

Many sentiments filled each day of the visit I made to Tanzania last month in the wake of my friend Mbwambo’s death, but the most profound and enduring one was abundant gratitude. I was grateful to Mbwambo for all that he had dedicated to Tumaini Tanzania over the last decade of his life, grateful to his family for inviting me to share in their mourning, and grateful to the local community for allowing us to further his legacy through our collaborative support of the students and schools for which he cared so deeply. More than anything, I was grateful for the sweet reminder of what this organization has always been about and what continues to drive it forward: sincere relationships…

Honoring our dear friend, Amini Goodluck Mbwambo

Honoring our dear friend, Amini Goodluck Mbwambo

Dear Tumaini community, I am very sad to share that Amini Goodluck Mbwambo, a dear friend and cherished member of Tumaini Tanzania, has passed away. Mbwambo became very sick about a month ago. After experiencing chest pains, he went to a hospital in a nearby town, where he was admitted to the ICU. He died the next day at the age of 31. Mbwambo helped to start Tumaini Tanzania in 2007…

Tumaini Gives Thanks

Tumaini Gives Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from Tumaini Tanzania! As the holiday season approaches, we are filled with gratitude for the many friends on both sides of the Atlantic who are committed to unlocking the potential of students in East Africa. We are especially thankful for the four teachers, featured below, who form Tumaini 's core leadership team in Tanzania. Msoffe, Mbwambo, Mayo, and Kiwale volunteer their time, finances, and energy to serve the young men and women of Tumaini Tanzania. I am continually inspired by their dedication to these students and to this organization -- they freely give their own resources to advance our mission simply because they love these kids and they see firsthand Tumaini's lasting impact. 

A Wise, Worthwhile Investment

As schools here in the United States ease into the routine of another year, so too do Tumaini Tanzania's dedicated partners in East Africa. We are excited to support 82 students this year who could not continue their education but for the scholarships you have made possible. Your investments have equipped these talented and hardworking young leaders with tangible gifts of school tuition, meals, clothing, and books -- and lasting gifts of mentors, opportunity, and hope.

Read more here.

Moms Inspire Tumaini (Hope)

Tumaini Tanzania is an organization rooted in relationships, committed to the idea that communities an ocean apart can truly love, care for, and learn from each other. While I am constantly amazed by our students and teachers, one group of friends in Tanzania has taught me more than any other about hope, sacrifice, and perseverance: Moms. These "mamas," "bibis" (grandmothers), and "aunties" are the real driving force of the villages with which we partner. They rear their (and others') children, sustain the area's economy through long hours of manual labor, and invest in their churches and schools and political parties. These Tanzanian women diligently fill in wherever they see a need, adamantly refusing to allow the hardships in their lives--including all too frequently, men who abandon responsibilities--to overcome their determination for their families and their community to thrive...