When you or I walk into a dark room, we can flip a switch and there is light. If you lived in a village in rural Tanzania earning $1 to $3 a day, there is no switch, and few people even have electricity, nor can they afford kerosene for a lamp.
As our children grow up, we assume that they will go to school. In the villages we serve this is not so. School tuition is free; however, to attend school a child must have a school uniform, note books and a pair of shoes. Most of the families caring for vulnerable children cannot afford uniforms, books, and necessary school supplies.
A few years ago, with big smiles on their faces, Orida Mwakaja and Gilbert Agray celebrated along with their classmates when a pickup truck loaded with boxes of new uniforms, crisp white shirts, apple-red sweaters and navy blue skirts for girls and shorts for boys, arrived at Kalalo Village primary school in southwestern Tanzania. The uniforms and other school supplies were a gift to the school’s Most Vulnerable Children made possible by donors from Africa Bridge.
Orida and Gilbert are proud — not just of their new uniforms, but of the education they are receiving. To realize their dreams, they study hard at school. Twelve-year-old Orida is in Standard 7, her last year of primary school. Although she is an orphan, Orida has big plans for her future. After completing primary school, she wants to attend secondary school for six years. Her hope is to continue her education at a university and become both a doctor and a businesswoman. “My favorite subject is math because it will help me to make a lot of money as a businesswoman,” Orida explains. When not studying or helping with home and farm chores, Orida enjoys running.
Eleven-year-old Gilbert is in Standard 6. His favorite subject is Swahili, Tanzania’s national language. Gilbert loves playing soccer, known as football in Tanzania, and one day hopes to become an airline pilot.
Despite the new uniforms, Orida knows her school lacks some basic necessities. Orida explains,“My primary school’s seven classrooms need more desks, glass in the window frames to help keep out the cold in the winter, a toilet and, most importantly, more teachers,” Eight teachers are responsible for 427 students, with class sizes ranging from 53 to 80. Orida hopes her village will improve its schools because she believes education is important to improve the lives of villagers.
Africa Bridge creates agricultural co-ops in villages to promote self-sufficient agriculture that enables the villagers to improve their standard of living and provide a future for their vulnerable children, including orphaned children like Orida. Gilbert and Orida are proud of Kalalo Village’s increased emphasis on agriculture. The village grows maize, bananas, avocados, coffee and tea, in addition to raising cows. Gilbert relates: “I want Kalalo to be known for its agriculture.”
In a country that has seen its adult population significantly reduced by the spread of HIV/AIDS, resulting in large numbers of orphans and fewer resources, children such as Orida and Gilbert understand they must overcome many challenges if they are to succeed in school and obtain the education they desire.
However, students and families can see the positive changes already happening in their own village as the cow and avocado co-operatives started by Africa Bridge empower villagers to create economically sustainable businesses, grow more food and improve schools so that both the vulnerable children and families will all thrive.
Your gift of new uniforms helps children like Orida and Gilbert attend school today and gifts for the co-operatives will ensure they can continue to attend school in the future.
The Board of Africa Bridge challenges you to donate towards our school uniform drive and co-op programs. Between September 16 and October 31 2020, every dollar you donate will be matched by us. Your money will be doubled, therefore, sending hundreds of vulnerable children to school, while also investing in their future through improvements to the village co-operatives.
Many thanks for your consideration,
Board Member and Africa Bridge Founder