Whatever happened on this day was going to be a surprise to me. We were visiting two poor schools located in the midst of huge sugar cane farms. We picked up Daniel and Jamaal as our guides for these visits. They both work with my good friend Martin Russell for the Opportunity Education Foundation (OEF), which is involved with both of these schools.
We passed right through the working farms on roads intended for farm trucks and tractors. Children could be seen along the fields happily chewing on pieces of sugar cane.
Our first stop was at Mtakuja Secondary School, which is connected to the Lutheran church. Secondary school is roughly equivalent to high school in the U.S. The 220 students are on break for the month so it was a quiet campus.
The head teacher gave us the history of the school and we learned about the OEF Next Generation Learning (NGL) program. OEF has chosen this poorly resourced remote school as a pilot to run this new NGL methodology. The early indications are positive. The goal is to show the government what can be achieved when teachers and schools utilize this approach to education. If it can work at Mtakuja Secondary School, it can surely work anywhere else in the country.
Next, we visited the Rose Education Center, which is both an orphanage and a primary school. We were greeted by Rose, the founder and by dozens of singing children. Rose is in a wheelchair after loosing the use of her legs as a child but she is running laps around most people in terms of her compassion, drive and accomplishments.
We toured the campus and learned about the challenges faced by this amazing place. The government has threatened to close the orphanage and school down since they lack the proper bathroom facilities.
We were pleased to share with Rose and all the staff present that the Africa Fund at Prince of Peace will be providing some funds to help get those facilities built. We were all very moved that God brought us together in the middle of those farms.
Our group presented a couple soccer balls to the children and a frenzied playtime ensued on their big dirt field with all of us running around laughing together.
Looking up, we could see that the great mountain was smiling down on all of us with the clearest view of the entire trip!
Imagine, on our last full day in Tanzania, we were blessed to be playing with a group of almost 80 children, most of them orphans, laughing and hugging and thanking God to be together, and Mt. Kilimanjaro chooses that very moment to show her full glory to our group for the first time.
This is Tanzania.