Monday, June 20, 2011

Asante sana

      I received some incredible news on Friday. The program I traveled to Tanzania with last August, Chocolate University, received a $5,000 grant to purchase textbooks for Mwya Secondary School in Tanzania. There truly are not words to describe how amazing this grant is, and how transformative it will be for these students. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to the Southeast Springfield Rotary Club, but I can start with asante sana - thank you very much.

Over the course of a year and a half the village of Tenende, Tanzania changed from a place I had never heard of to one that I hold close to my heart. The fact that Springfield, Missouri has been able to come together and form such a strong relationship with a small village over 8,000 miles away astounds me. Rather than visiting Tenende and then letting its people fade from memory, a group of 13 students has managed to share the loving, motivating and giving spirit that fills the village and has motivated others to care as well.
    I cannot emphasize enough how deserving of this grant Mwya Secondary School is. A year ago the school had 1,100 secondary students, 10 teachers, and zero textbooks. Yet those 1,100 students valued education enough that they continued to attend school despite the lack of learning materials. Since then, individuals from Springfield and beyond have helped Chocolate University to raise $4,500 to go toward the purchase of textbooks in late January, funded an Empowered Girls club to try to increase the graduation rate of the girls at Mwya and now given an additional $5,000 to buy even more textbooks for the school. In addition, the village of Tenende now has a source of potable drinking water, something that so many take for granted but that is unobtainable for so many others.
 A city of 160,000 has managed to better the lives of 2,000 villagers and 1,100 Secondary students over 8,000 miles away in less than two years. Yet somehow, I feel that the people and students of Tenende and Mwya have given me so much more than I could ever give them. They have changed the way I see myself. They have redefined the meanings of community, happiness and love. They have changed who I am, and I am eternally grateful. I am so excited that I will be the one to take them the new textbooks, and I am so proud to represent Springfield, and in a small way the USA while I am here in Tanzania.

On behalf of those who have played a role, big or small, in making this happen... I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If 13 high schoolers from Missouri can initiate this much change, imagine the possibilities. I urge each one of you reading this: go out and help. Help in your community, donate your time or money to a worthy cause such as this one...whatever you can do- do.  Whatever you can give- give.
"Sometimes a small thing you do can mean everything in another person's life." 

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