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