July 2009, Nyamagongo, Shirati Tanzania
Jennifer Burt, Berkeley, CA
"In 2009, when my 50th birthday was approaching and friends & family kept asking me "What do you want to do to celebrate your birthday?" Many ideas were suggested, but none of them felt right. Then one day I was attending a school function and I heard about this fabulous young lady, Lily Gordon, who used to attend my son's school, Prospect Sierra. She was building brick ovens and helping get clean water to a small school in Tanzania. They were putting together a group to go back for the next summer to build rain water storage tanks and the plan was to leave a couple of days before my birthday.
"I knew instantly this was how I wanted to celebrate turning 50. This was one of the best decisions of my life.
"During the planning stages I got the idea to bring over One World Futbols to the children. I had heard that they love soccer but the balls get chewed up and popped by the thorny terrain. One World Futbols are made to be indestructible. With the help from a few other families from Prospect Sierra we were able to bring over 20 balls. The children loved them. While I was there, we got the idea to plant fruit trees at the school. We had to drive for three hours to another town to find some. I bought, avocado, mango, orange and few other kinds. Keeping them alive, we knew would be very hard with the lack of water, but they promised to take good care of them. I get pictures occasionally on how the trees are doing. I hope some day to bring my son back with me and see the school and trees I planted.
"The people of Shirati are the most kind of loving people I have met. I fell in love with the children at the school. A few little ones captured my heart and we now sponsor their education through the Scholarship Project. When I got back I was able to find sponsors for other children from our Prospect Sierra families. I am so grateful for REACH Shirati (formerly AISCS) to allow me to have this experience!"
"This was one of the best decisions of my life."