Feeding Mouths to Feed Minds
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Feeding Mouths to Feed Minds

Separate traveler donations support the same cause: a dining hall for Tanzania's Njia Panda Primary School

When Sue and Rick Jayroe of Rochester Hills, Michigan, visited Tanzania with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) last September, Sue was immediately struck by the people she met. The Trip Leader and driver-guides on her Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari adventure treated her small group of 13 "like we were their family," she says. And as she learned about the local culture through their eyes, she began to truly appreciate, as she puts it, "how much we have here and how little they have there."

This point was underscored by the OAT group's visit to the Njia Panda Primary School, which serves 600 students in first through seventh grades. There, Sue learned that the students walk an average of four miles each way to get to school, and if they return home for lunch, they're unlikely to return in the afternoon.

Yet, the dining conditions for the students touched her heart. At lunchtime, all 600 children lined up outdoors for a cup of food. "It was hot, dry, very dusty," Sue recalls. "There were no seats except the ground."

Yvonne and Michael Fuchs of Tehachapi, California, had a similar response to the visit to the Njia Panda school on their Safari Serengeti adventure this past January. "Overall, on our trip, we were really impressed with how passionate and educated the people we met were," says Yvonne. "They have so much less than we have in the United States, but they seem very passionate, caring, and happy."

During their respective adventures, the Jayroes and the Fuchs each asked the school principal, Agnes, what they could do that would help the most. Agnes responded that what Njia Panda needed most was funding to build a kitchen and a sheltered place for the children to eat.

Sue decided to help by raising funds through her church, the Lutheran Church of the Master in Troy, Michigan. She made a video that prompted an outpouring of response. "My church pledged $10,000," she marvels. "Their hearts just poured out. They said, 'Even if we can't do our own rebuilding project at the church, we will sponsor this.'"

The Fuchs were similarly moved by the plight of the students and Agnes' dedication to their education. "After visiting the school and seeing all the children, it was clear that a contribution would mean so much to them and have a huge impact on dozens and dozens of children," says Michael. "We feel that it is very important to see the world to understand it better. Part of understanding the world is participating in a positive way. We cannot think of a better way of participating than to support a school in a beautiful country."

Inspired by this sentiment, the Fuchs made their own donation of $5,000 to the school. The fact that every dollar they donated would go to the Njia Panda school had an impact on their decision to contribute. "It just feels good knowing that we can affect people's lives like that," says Yvonne.

Sue concurs, saying, "I feel very appreciative of OAT helping us understand the people and the land of Africa. It's our time to give back."

Featured in our May 2012 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.