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.  No doubt, this approach—which places real, known, vulnerable people at the center of all we do—presents hard challenges that we wouldn’t have to wrestle with in the same way if we were only motivated by impersonal, measured outcomes. Building genuine relationships has meant grieving with our students whose family members are sick or injured; joining with parents in their longing for rain to eke out a harvest that fills their kids' stomachs; carrying the anger and confusion over Dads who abandoned their families to poverty; sharing the aching loss of our dear friend and most fervent partner, Mbwambo, whose life was suddenly snatched last year by what surely was a preventable illness.  The brokenness of this world is painfully evident when we intimately know its human consequences.
But seeing and experiencing this stark brokenness makes us trust even more in the Hope (“Tumaini”) that it ultimately will mend, and fuels our determination to equip these brilliant, faithful students to play a small part in that restoration.  Though our commitment to a mission that is rooted in personal relationships means we take on some of this special community's burdens, it also gives us the privilege of sharing in moments of intense beauty, wonder, and gladness: students working toward university degrees in engineering and medicine, when just ten years ago they never imagined their education would go beyond elementary school; parents giving thanks for the meals and healthcare made possible through the scholarships you’ve provided; teachers welcoming new babies into their families, while they treat all the students at their schools like their children; young men and women, former Tumaini students, employed at schools around their country, providing for their families and training future generations. And, we recently celebrated a first for Tumaini Tanzania, as Emmanuel, one of our former students who now works as a tour guide and sound technician thanks to our partnership with him through secondary school and vocational college, married Gracie, a sweet woman he excitedly introduced to us during last year’s visit. As the series of pictures below shows, it has been such a gift to experience life with Emmanuel--and all our Tanzanian friends--these past ten years.  We are so thrilled for and proud of him! 
I look forward to sharing more, about the challenges and the joys, when we return from our upcoming visit. I am grateful to be traveling with two other Board members, Duncan and Erik, and look forward to greeting our local partners who deserve the real credit for all our work. We will spend the week checking on all our students and their families, visiting the homes of our new 10 Form One members, hosting a workshop for our team, encouraging and thanking our local volunteers, and thinking creatively with our partners on the ground about how to best bolster their continued flourishing. While we’re there, would you please consider making an investment in this special community so that we will have a rough sense of the financial commitments we’re able to make to it this year?  As always, we pledge that one hundred percent of every dollar invested will be applied directly to our locally driven and completely volunteer-run projects in Tanzania, where your invaluable support is empowering these students to make a lasting impact on their community.