Lucas and Rai, 2010
Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,
Happy Holidays from Team Project Wezesha: Lucas, Rai (me), Madaga, and all the students!
Time for Reflection
Each New Year brings a special time for reflection. Reflecting on my years working with Project Wezesha and Girls Education International brings a rush of memories – of miles walked between villages with Lucas, of schools we’ve visited, of students we’ve supported, of meetings with various leaders, of classrooms built, and challenges faced.
I’m reminded of our responsibility to the youth in our programs who inspire me with all they’ve achieved with a little support from you and me!
I’m hopeful about the future as we continue to offer academic study camps with the incredible support of our donor, Shelly Braun, our Education Director, Madaga, and the amazing teachers who provide their time and knowledge each December and June to ensure more students from villages can attend high school and university.
Partners for Life
The year 2023 marks 15 years since I met Lucas, co-founder of Project Wezesha, advocate for all young people, family man, and dear friend. We call each other “kaka” and “dada” respectively, which means “brother” and “sister” – and it truly feels like we are family. We are the adopted “baba” and “mama” (father and mother) of two orphans in Kigoma that we’ve been supporting for many years. And we are affectionately known by many local villagers who have seen us work tirelessly in service to the mission of Project Wezesha as “baba kazi” and “mama kazi” – roughly: “father work” and “mother work.” I’ve seen Lucas marry and have two daughters. I’ve eaten with his family more times than I can count – singing, dancing, laughing, and chatting with his mama, baba, wife, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. It is my most cherished blessing this holiday season to have these memories and my forever-connection to Lucas.
What is the best way to help? Sponsor a student.
Of course, no matter how much “kazi” Lucas and I do, we can’t accomplish anything without you. We are so grateful for your support. As we enter 2023, we are still greatly in need of funds for several of the young men in our scholarship program. Some of them are beginning their first year at university, while others are moving into year two or three.
We are celebrating their successes on national exams. We are celebrating exceptional performance in university classes. We are celebrating their service to their communities. We are celebrating the future they represent as they become doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, environmental scientists, pharmacists and more.
Perhaps with a group of friends and family, you can pool funds to support one young man. You can commit for this year only or see him through his entire academic career! Below is the list of names and tuition costs. Their tuition fees vary depending on whether they were assigned (as is done by the Tanzanian government) to public or private universities, as well as whether they qualified for government loan support. They all applied for support, and most were successful.
When I think that students at CU Boulder, where I teach, pay up to $30,000 per year for university tuition – and $1500 wouldn’t even cover the cost of one full course – I think: This is doable! However, financial times are challenging right now. We know it’s asking a lot to support someone you don’t know and may never meet. But you can trust Lucas and me when we say, these young folks are truly remarkable, deserving, and grateful. We’ve known them for years and have watched them grow into fine young men with hearts set on making their communities safer and healthier. Will you invest in them today?
Student Names and Costs for One Year
- Yohana, 1st year > $1458
- Lameck, 1st year > $1458
- Elias, 1st year > $2400
- Mayani, 2nd year > $1430
- Hamisi, 2nd year > $1757
- Simoni, 3rd year > $1593
- Felisiano, 3rd year > Sponsored!
- Anzuruni, 3rd year > Sponsored!
- Sospeter, 3rd year > Sponsored!
Hamisi, a second-year medical student pursuing a career in surgery, recently joined his classmates to commemorate World Aids Day (see picture) by giving blood and campaigning to raise awareness about AIDS, which still afflicts many in Tanzania. He said in his message to me that they were donating blood “to help in reducing [the] mortality rate to our lovely women during delivery as they lack blood to support their lives. Our blood will also go in helping patients who get [in] accidents and lack relatives to take care of them. I feel proud to be part of the group.” And we are proud of Hamisi!
Saidi, a graduate from our program who completed his university studies in Economics is now a financial advisor and business consultant to members of his community. He helps locals know how to invest their money and make wise business decisions. He was recently approached by a woman who was debating between selling her land and building a home to rent. Saidi advised her to keep the land and build sustainable income through the rental property. He consulted with a small group to explore how they could turn a small amount of capital into a thriving soap production business. They more than tripled their investment in a short amount of time. He has taught shop owners how to reinvest their earnings into the business instead of using their personal funds, which was a reason many shops were closing. Currently, Saidi is saving money so he can study to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Simoni, a third-year medical student, shared how proud his parents and his community are of him as he becomes a doctor. According to Simoni, “education has broadened my worldview and helped me to grow intellectually.” He is in a 6-year program. He has two more years of coursework and will spend his final year in his internship. His focus is gynecology. From an early age, Simoni has been troubled by the health challenges he’s seen women in his village face, including complications caused by sexually transmitted diseases which can cause infertility, at risk pregnancies, and in some cases – death. Simoni hopes to work with women in his society to raise awareness about various diseases, promote healthy behaviors, and encourage screenings. Having supported Simoni since Form 1 (year one in secondary school), we are so proud to see all he has accomplished over these past 9 years. He is constantly conveying his gratitude, but we are just honored to be part of his journey.
Simply, Thank You!
On behalf of the students, Lucas, and Madaga, I send our deepest gratitude for all you’ve done to support Project Wezesha in big ways and small. Please tell others about Project Wezesha, share this report, and ask others if they’ll join us today. Pamoja, tunaweza kufanya zaidi. [Together, we can do more!]
Happy New Year!
Asante sana. Thank you.
The Project Wezesha Team
Hamisi, World AIDS Day
Elias, Yohana, Lameck, and Mayani
First Scholarship Cohort, 2010
Visiting with Lucas' mama and baba