March 2012 Newsletter
My husband and I traveled to Tanzania in 2006. It was a “bucket list” trip to go on safari and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. That climb was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and permanently shifted my perspective on tenacity and personal limits. But it was the people I met in Tanzania that have had the more lasting effect on me.
There was the waiter who poured out his frustration with parents who had more children than they could afford to educate, and swore that he would save every penny he earned to finish school and break the cycle of poverty. I was humbled by the man who intercepted my village tour to ask for help when he heard I was a “marketing expert.” He wanted to market crafts to raise funds to educate the children in his village.
And then there was Dennis, our safari guide, who later introduced me to Asante Africa Foundation, and currently serves on the board in Tanzania. Apart from absolutely charming everyone with his twinkling eyes and funny stories, he shared his homeland and his culture. As the oldest child, he left school to help support his family. But he was determined to finish his education. We stayed in touch via email, and I was so proud of him when he shared first that he was going to college, later that he had been elected student body president, and finally that he was graduating with honors, and starting his own tour company. That man has climbed my life-changing mountain more than 200 times, yet he’s most proud of his education.
I was so moved by the power and meaning of education in the lives of the Tanzanians I met. What we take for granted is immeasurable treasure to them. As passionate as I am myself about the power of knowledge, I knew I wanted to help them transform their world. And so here I am. I recently joined the Board of Directors, along with Paru Yusuf, Heward Jue and Nancy Battey. I am honored and excited to do whatever I can to help.
In this issue you will meet our 2012 scholars. Many are orphans, or are being raised by single parents, some have run away to escape early marriages— but all are driven by their determination to achieve their education goals and life dreams. Most aspire to help people – as lawyers, doctors, engineers, and as teachers, because teachers are the people who have most influenced their own young lives.
I am proud to be part of a team that will help transform the worlds of these shining young stars who ask for nothing more than the opportunity to realize their potential. Asante Sana, for making it possible.