We are often asked why we are committed to Tanzania when opportunities to give and help those in need exist all around us, even in our own neighbors. The limitations of time and resources often require us to make difficult decisions about where to invest ourselves. We did not choose Tanzania—moreover, we did not choose the communities in and around Sakila—randomly or out of some sense of glamor, adventure, or do-good-ism. This project is based on relationships: it reflects our desire to simply serve as good stewards of the power of the relationships that grew on both sides of the Atlantic when Lide lived in Sakila. As Lide relayed the story of this village and the potential of its students, the hope of that community became contagious, and we wanted to become a part of the transformation that was taking place there. Even as Tumaini Tanzania becomes a more formal organization that has grown beyond Lide’s immediate friends and family, this project continues to be about communities: a community of friends here supporting and learning from a community of friends there. We hope this website will help to strengthen those relationships by serving as one of the major avenues through which information is passed back and forth between the communities in and around Sakila and the Tumaini Tanzania donor base. So please check back often for updates and consider joining us in whatever ways you can!
Following his graduation from Princeton in 2006, Lide spent a year teaching in Sakila, where an unstable agricultural economy, disease, and the devastation of broken families make life a daily struggle. Over the year Lide formed rich relationships with local students and families who were amazingly talented, brilliant, faithful, and determined. Yet, limited access to basic education deprived these friends of the tools to improve their lives and perpetuated poverty’s grasp on their community.
As Lide told the story of this village through pictures and writings, family and friends, and eventually friends of friends of friends, began to read along. Ultimately, Lide’s parents received a check in the mail from someone he didn’t know, asking Lide to put the money to good use in serving the community. Lide had worked with a number of bright students who, for lack of resources, would not be able to attend secondary school; he recognized that equipping these students with an education would be the best way to empower them to transform their own village. A few additional friends in the United States graciously offered to supplement the original check Lide had received to enable 13 students to attend secondary school in 2007.
We had no grand plan to start a major initiative. (In fact, we were particularly hesitant to begin anything given that we had encountered numerous examples of well-intentioned projects that failed to address any real needs or promote any real flourishing.) But as our students thrived thanks to the small partnership, they and their families invited us to continue our involvement, pledging their full support alongside our own. At the same time, Lide’s friends in the United States had become excited about the work that was taking place in Sakila and wanted to continue to invest in that transformation. Our commitment grew out of these relationships: we decided that this project would be the best way to effectively steward this opportunity to match the resources and goodwill of our friends in the U.S. with the exciting vision held by our friends in Sakila. After careful prayer and consideration, in January 2008 we formally incorporated as a non-profit organization in North Carolina. We were excited to keep the name that our students had selected: Tumaini—meaning “hope” in Swahili—represents the quiet potential each child in this village sees in himself/herself and that we’re excited to help ignite through education.
Over the past few years, it has been a privilege to join with friends from across the country as their support has turned a modest intention to serve into a sustainable project sure to affect generations. We have been able to partner with a new class of students each year: we now have students in all four grades of secondary school (“O-levels”) at two schools in the communities in and around Sakila (Sakila Secondary and Nkoanekoli Secondary), and we are pleased to support our top, oldest students from Sakila in the higher grades of boarding secondary school (“A-levels”), in Teachers College, in Vocational School, and in University in towns across Tanzania. We have broadened our base of local partners who volunteer their time and their own resources to support this initiative. And we have been honored and humbled by the continued outpouring of support for this project that has allowed us to expand our donor community in the United States and other countries.
Although our initiatives are evolving, what has not changed – and will never change – is the humble commitment at the heart of Tumaini Tanzania to best use our simple and abundant resources of energy, ideas, finances, love, prayer, and encouragement to foster the hope that already persists in this village. Relationships continue to form the fabric of Tumaini Tanzania, and we continue to be guided by the needs and leadership of our local partners. We remain a completely volunteer-based organization, both here in the United States and in Tanzania: sometimes this means that sometimes our materials or our marketing are not as fancy or professional as we'd like, but we're willing to trade that for our pledge that 100% of all donations goes directly to the field.