A Life Changing Trip
In November 2007, a group of friends took a “trip of a lifetime” to Tanzania. In addition to the wonderful game drives, the tour included visits with local people engaged in various aspects of Tanzanian life. Our visit to the Meali Primary School was a particular highlight.
The Head Teacher talked with us about the school and introduced several classes of boys and girls. He facilitated a dialog with the oldest students, about what we had done with our lives and what the children hoped to do with theirs. One boy said he would like to be a doctor. The idea that a child so impoverished and in such an isolated place as Meali, in the middle of a coffee plantation and 30 minutes drive from a paved road, could even think about such a big dream as becoming a doctor was truly inspiring. We wanted to do anything we could to help.
When asked about the school’s needs, the Head Teacher answered that $1,000 would buy textbooks for the entire school. In reality, that first $1,000 gift reduced sharing from three students per book to only two, the standard that has become the normal level of improvement we seek.
The act of providing such meaningful support was addictive. The Tanzanians were so appreciative that it was impossible to stop with only that one small effort.
Desks were the Head Teacher’s next priority – enough to reduce sharing to two students per desk. But the $4,800 price tag for this project required recruiting more contributors. Conversations with friends and relatives produced such enthusiasm for the project that the money was raised in just a few weeks. Friends of Meali was born!
Continued fundraising required incorporating and obtaining tax-exempt status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which was granted in March 2009. Next step was to cement our relationship with Lucas Mhina, a native Tanzanian, to spearhead all our projects. In 2011, Friends of Meali International, Inc., formalized that relationship by creating Friends of Meali Tanzania Limited, a tax-exempt Tanzanian company headed by a native Tanzanian, Lucas Mhina. Our two organizations work exclusively with each other and share the same mission.
In just five years of working together, we completely transformed the Meali Primary School with the projects and programs we have undertaken. To quote one of Meali’s teachers, “Meali today is not the Meali of yesterday.” The local community tells us it would have taken them decades to accomplish the same metamorphosis…
Working with that sucess and while continuing to support Meali with a variety of ongoing programs, in partnership with its community of parents, teachers, government officials, etc., we are working with and have worked with additional public schools, Losirwa Primary School ,Oldeani Primary School, Lucas Mhina Primary School and an independent, non-profit primary school Hope School for Girls and Boys.
The generous support of many individuals has made all this possible. If you are not among them, we hope you will join us. PLEASE DONATE