I'm starting to see a pattern to the opportunities and needs that are around me. For the past several years I've been advocating for the sponsorship program of Lahash, which focuses on holistic care and education for children through high school equivalent. During this time I've realized the need for a fund available to help our kids apply to university and specialty colleges, like teaching, accounting or nursing school. It looks like I'll have the opportunity to begin designing and fundraising for that scholarship program in the next year, which excites me immensely. In many cases, these vulnerable, but brilliant and hard-working kids only need a little assistance to get the applications, birth certificates, death certificates for parents (to prove vulnerability for government grants), etc. In other cases, for vocational schools especially, the fees for a year of school may be only a few hundred dollars, but even the low cost for school can derail a potential student's future. A young man or woman faced with the opportunity to become a teacher, accountant, mechanic or nurse with a salary to support a family, may instead end up working in a restaurant or doing piece work in the market.
Right now Fred and I have several students we are trying to help, but with planning for the baby, the requests for assistance have overwhelmed us. I hope that, in sharing their stories, God might move on a reader's heart to help these students. (Disclaimer: these students are not part of any Lahash International program, but are personal "projects" that Fred and I are facilitating. Any funds would not go through Lahash, and would not be tax-deductible.) Here are their stories:
Habiba is the one who got me started feeling so passionate about these students. She is an ambitious young woman who finished secondary school (high school) in the Lahash program, and was accepted to St. Augustine University to get a bachelor's degree in education. She has a government loan and grant which covers her tuition, but is herself responsible for her registration fees. I've helped her out a couple of times in the past, but recently her family's financial situation degraded even more, and now, for lack of 188,000 TZS, or about $120, she might not be able to return for her second year of school. She needs these funds as soon as possible to finish her registration. Without the funds, she might never get a chance to return to university.
If you would like to help Habiba, she needs a one-time gift of $120 as soon as possible.
Tino is a young man who is a student at the Shirati Nursing School, which is part of the Mennonite diocese that Fred works for. Although Tino is an orphan, his grandmother and uncles have really sacrificed to help him with the first year of his school fees. He worked a low-level job in a hospital to save up the funds for the first term of his second year, which just started. Fred and Tino have become friends, playing volleyball together most afternoons, and Fred has a lot of respect for Tino's work ethic and dedication to school, as well as his leadership on campus. In March his funds will run out, and he won't be able to finish his nursing degree for the lack of only a small amount of money.
If you would like to help Tino, he needs a one-time gift of $300 by the end of February 2012.
Steve is another student at Shirati Nursing School whom we have tried to help from time to time. Like Tino, Steve is a young man on his own in the world. Steve is another volleyball friend of Fred's, and he attended my birthday party with Tino and a few others. He's a really joyful, funny young man, and super friendly. He is in his final year of school and has been assured of a job at the local hospital after his graduation, at which point he plans to begin repaying any funds provided to him. We would reapply these fees to assist additional students in similar circumstances.
If you would like to help Steve, he needs a one-time gift of $300 by the end of February 2012.
**EDIT**I had a story here about a girl I hadn't actually met named Leticia Namirembe. Turns out that the whole thing was an extremely elaborate scam, perpetrated by someone who had stolen Mama Susan's email password and sent me emails purporting to be Susan, Leticia, and the registrar of the nursing school. Lesson learned that no matter how much research I think I've done, there's nothing like a personal relationship!
Please contact me if you have been touched by any of these stories and would like to help out. You can send an email to my personal account: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and God bless.