All for Ali
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All for Ali

The memory of a young teacher inspires a generous gift to Tanzanian schoolchildren

Alison Mae Regan-"Ali," to her family and friends—was a gifted athlete … an excellent student … and a friendly, blonde young woman with a big heart and a warm smile. After graduating from college, she devoted herself with energy and enthusiasm to her job as a teacher at a school for autistic children.

Too soon, the life of this beautiful, vibrant, caring woman was tragically cut short. Just 25 years old, she was the victim of an automobile accident, when a car driven by a man under the influence of heroin hit her car head on.

Her memory lives on around the world, however, through the efforts of her father, Grand Circle associate Ricky Regan, and Grand Circle Foundation. In 2011, he made a grant to the Foundation in her name to support the Sinamune Disabled Children's Orchestra, an orchestra in Ecuador comprised entirely of children with special needs.

When the time came in 2012 to make a gift in her honor, Grand Circle Foundation decided to donate 82 desks to one of its newest partners, the Tarangire Primary School in Karatu, Tanzania. Located on the outskirts of Tarangire National Park, the school served just 100 children from neighboring bomas (permanent villages for the once-nomadic Maasai people) when it first opened in 1973. Today, according to the school's headmaster, Stanley, the school serves 720 students. Because the government provides just $3 per student annually—not even close to covering basic costs—the students badly needed desks.

A group of Grand Circle associates traveling on the Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari adventure was on hand when the desks were presented. The festivities began with the children singing to their guests and the OAT group responding with the American national anthem. In the Maasai tradition, the chief, Chief Lobulo, declared the best singer to be his second wife!

The group was then given a tour of the school before sitting down to a feast of rice pilaf, bean stew, goat casserole, and fruit. Afterward, the associates—all of whom know Ricky—told the story of Ali Mae's life and labeled the desks in her memory, and the village community gave prayers.

At the end of the emotion-filled day, the group gave the school 35 soccer balls—which they promptly tested out in an impromptu match against the seventh graders. "It was a fabulous day, with a great project completed for a great school, in memory of Ali," summarizes Sandra Vaughan, East Africa Operations Coordinator in OAT's regional office in Arusha, Tanzania. Certainly, it was a fitting gift in the name of a young woman who had devoted her life to teaching.

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