The Foundation, an associate, and a community come together for children in Tanzania
In rural Africa, where children must walk long distances to get to school each day, being able to serve lunch at school makes a huge difference in how much a student learns. A child who walks home for the midday meal is not likely to make the long walk back to school for afternoon classes—so starting a lunch program is an effective way of increasing full-day attendance.
After seeing this positive impact firsthand at the Bashay and Banjika schools in Karatu, Tanzania, Sandra Vaughan, Operations Coordinator in East Africa, was eager to implement a similar lunch program at the Tarangire Primary School. "This school has many children who walk more than eight miles to get to school," Sandra says. "There is only one school in the area, so walk they must." Fortunately for Sandra, there was a supporter ready and waiting on the other side of the world, at OAT's headquarters in Boston. "I suggested it as a possible project for Tarangire," said Sandra, "and Ricky Regan was quick to respond that the Alison Mae Regan Memorial Fund (AMRMF) would fund it."
Ricky, along with his wife Wendy and son Matthew, began AMRMF in 2010 to honor the memory of his daughter, Alison ("Ali"), who was killed in a tragic automobile accident at the age of 25. As a 15-year Grand Circle associate, Ricky knew that the schools and villages supported by Grand Circle Foundation fit perfectly with AMRMF's mission to help young people fulfill their potential. And so, in addition to funding scholarships in Ali's home town of Milton, Massachusetts, AMRMF has worked with the Foundation to complete projects in Ecuador, Thailand, and Tanzania.
In September, Ricky traveled to Tanzania to personally witness the delivery of two large smokeless cooking pots, which use only three pieces of wood per day and effectively eliminate smoke and harmful emissions. In addition, enough funds were raised to provide five commercial cooking pots and ten teachers' desks and chairs. The village then gathered for a celebratory meal, the Maasai way: roasted goat served under a tree on the school grounds.
Tarangire has only been a Foundation partner school since 2011, but already Sandra has seen positive changes, including the purchase of solar-powered lights and desks for the students—which were also partially funded by AMRMF. Now, the village residents want to be directly involved in the improvements to their community. "The delivery of this project has impressed the school and village so much, they have committed themselves to try and provide materials to build a kitchen within the next three months," says Sandra. "Already, a truck has arrived carrying one load of bricks and a load of builders' sand. It won't be long before the children can have lunch on site, and absenteeism will be cut dramatically."
It's what we hope for out of every partnership: the support of caring travelers and associates like Ricky, and participation from the community. Together, we can make an even greater difference than any of us could on our own.
Learn more about the Alison Mae Regan Memorial Fund here.
Featured in our September/October 2012 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.