• REACH Shirati

Lanjanae feels blessed to have all the comforts of home that's why she wants to help those with none

July 2013, Nyamagongo, Shirati Tanzania

Lashay Thomas
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School , Richmond, CA

Lanjanae Thomas, visited Shirati and Nyamagongo villages with our Board President Hattie Smith and several other young students in July, 2013, when she was 12 years old. Following are excerpts from her speech to her sixth grade class upon her return. 

"My name is Lanjanae Thomas and I am a sixth grader at Dr. Martin King Jr. Elementary School in Richmond. First, I would like to thank East Bay Women in Action for awarding me a scholarship and giving me the opportunity to travel out of the country. I am here today to speak about my experiences in Tanzania, Africa...

"I arrived in shirati after 26 hours in the air and 6 hours in a car. The first thing I noticed was that everything was very different in the village of Shirati than in Richmond... [For example] very few people spoke English because their native language was Kswahili. However, the children were studying English at Tina’s Pre and Primary School, where I had a chance to teach art and some English.

"The children were more appreciative and courteous than American students. They were also well behaved. Every day, when we walked into the classroom, they would stand up and say, “Good morning madam of excellence.” Then they would wait until I gave them permission to sit down. I found out later that some of these students had not attended public school because they had to walk many, many miles, sometimes with worn out shoes or they could not attend without shoes. Many parents liked this school better even though they had to pay a little money....

"Although this was a great experience, I am glad to be back home because I am blessed to live in a house with running water, ride on paved roads, and have a bathroom with a toilet. As I look around this room, I can also see that all of you are also blessed... so please consider making a donation to help make a child happy." 

"...they had to walk many, many miles, sometimes with worn out shoes."