July 2013, Nyamagongo, Shirati Tanzania
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School , Richmond, CA
Lashay Thomas visited Shirati and Nyamagongo villages with our Board President Hattie Smith and several other young students in July, 2013, when she was 10 years old. Following are excerpts from her speech to her fifth grade class in the fall following her return.
"First, I would like to thank Mrs. Hattie Smith of REACH Shirati for taking me with her to Africa. And thank you Momma for letting your baby girl go so far away....
"It took a really long time to get to Africa. It took 26 hours on 4 different planes and 5 hour by car on bumpy roads. I was glad that we spent some time in hotels in Mwanza, Tanzania and Dubai. We stayed in a big house in Shirati. There were 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, a laundry room, dining room, a large living room and kitchen. We had a master bedroom suite with our own bathroom. The cooks cooked a lot of food twice a day. I only ate “chips my eye” which are fried potatoes with eggs, greens, beans, rice, and chicken.
"We went to Tina’s Educational Center, an elementary school that is still being built. My friends and I had a chance to teach for a week. They taught arts and crafts and games. I taught the kids how to make rubber band bracelets using their fingers instead of a loom. The kids really liked making bracelets and some of them taught each other. Many of them learned how, in only one hour.
"I saw many kids without shoes and wearing torn clothes. I was glad some of my volunteer hours were spent asking friends, family, neighbors, and church members to donate clothing to my “Shirts for Shirati” project. I was able to give shirts and other clothes to some of the kids in need. We also went to Shirati Hospital. We gave clothing to all newborns and sick children in the hospital. I also had a chance to hold a newborn baby whose twin sister had passed a few days after being born.
"Going to Africa was the chance of a lifetime. Everyone should go and have this experience. I would love to go again when I am older. Thank you."
"Going to Africa was the chance of a lifetime. Everyone should go and have this experience."