This past March I had the distinct privilege to meet the The Sasamani Foundation staff, Tanzanian Board, and sponsored students during a one month trip to Tanzania. Over the course of my visit, I sat with the Education Director, Gladness Kulola, and each student as we reviewed their progress in all realms of life. The experience touched me deeply and solidified my commitment to being part of an organization providing real impact.
The individual stories were equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. Most children have lost at least one parent. The few who report both parents at home, often report abuse. It was difficult to comprehend all of the challenges the children face and hear one story after another. I tried to listen, to empathize, and to encourage each student to feel powerful and capable in the face of such adversity. What left me feeling hopeful was the last question for each annual review, "What would you like to study at university?" For the students who watched parents die due to lack of adequate medical treatments, their answer was "I want to study medicine." When I asked, "Why?" They responded, "Because no one should suffer the way my Mother did." For the students who witnessed or experienced first-hand domestic abuse, their answer was, "I want to study law." When I asked, "Why?" They said, "Because I want to defend my mother and make sure no one is treated like her ever again." Despite vast challenges, the Sasamani Foundation sponsor students have at their core, a desire to give back and be of service to their community.
Sasamani sponsor students want the same things we all want—to love and be loved and to have the opportunity for mastery and meaning in their lives. The Sasamani Foundation is a critical support network that provides a hand up, not a hand out. Students are required to maintain grades and appropriate behavior as a prerequisite and condition of their scholarship. In exchange, they are provided access to a social worker, school fees, uniforms and shoes, basic hygiene supplies, and school supplies. The government school where the majority of Sasamani students attend offers housing for girls. The Sasamani Foundation covers these costs as well. This benefit is critical, by boarding at the school, girls are significantly more likely to attend school each day. They are kept safe and provided regular meals. For the boys, the ride from home to school is on 5-10 miles of dirt roads. The boys often miss school on account of the distance which they must walk. There is no bus service. In an effort to address this barrier, with the support of a generous donor, The Sasamani Foundation purchased bikes for each of the 4 boys on scholarship—a game changer in their lives to have reliable and free transportation.
Sometimes it feels impossible to cure the ills of the world. It's daunting and we wonder where to begin. Sasamani offers a place to start. By providing education and wholistic support, Sasamani breaks the cycle of poverty. With just a small donation, you can be part of this exciting transformation!
The Sasamani Foundation, U.S. Board Chairperson