I was so inspired on this visit to Tanzania witnessing a large group of students excited to start a new school year. Too often in Tanzania, financial difficulties destroy all hopes for an education. Even when education is ‘free’ like in primary school, there are other costs for uniforms and school supplies that make it very difficult and sometimes impossible for a child to attend school. Each year, working with local communities, Project Zawadi identifies the neediest students at our partner schools and sponsors them. Often, these students have lost their parents and are living with relatives or neighbors that were already financially stretched thin. Other times, there is an illness or disability in the family that puts the family in great financial distress.
It is my experience that Tanzanians will help each other out as much as possible. When funds are not available for education, students and their families will often travel from village to village and town to town visiting family and friendsasking for the helpneeded to continue with school. Sometimes they are able to cobble together the funds. All too often, they aren’t. Instead of taking the path to school the student has no option but to take the path home.
Project Zawadi supports 250 such students each yearandprovidesshoes, uniforms, notebooks, textbooks, book bags, and other supplies important for school. Any relevant school fees are paid and perhaps most importantly,we give them a promise.If they are very serious about studying anddo well in school, we will support them as far as their education will take them.
Every January, I visit Nyamuswa village for the distribution of supplies to our sponsored students. I was there again this year and it was truly a great day. As I watched some of the students trying on shoes, I thought about how exciting it was for me when I was a student and received new school clothes and supplies. Starting a new year of school is always exciting. Imagine how exciting it must be for those students who wondered if they would be able to attend school at all.
It is truly my privilege to visit Tanzania to see how money from Project Zawadi donors and sponsors quite literally clears the pathto school for so many young people. Thank you to everyone that supports what we do.
–Brian Singer, President and Founder of Project Zawadi