Child Sponsorship Program - Giving Thanks 10 Years Later
Two weeks ago, I received a phone call I’ve been awaiting since October 2009. As Aggie told me all about her new job at a boutique hotel where she had just started working in Reception, I could hear the excitement in her voice. She boasted about her salary before she continued to describe her new world, telling me about her coworkers, the food, the accommodation options for guests and even regaled me with the details of her first-ever ferry ride to reach her new home. Once our laughter subsided, we both fell silent. I thought about the first time I met Aggie at Shalom Orphanage Centre and as I pictured these moments, her words interrupted my memory: “Eliza, thank you, thank you so much. Without my education I would not be here. I would not have completed school. I would not know how to speak English or even have this job. And I would not be earning a salary. Thank you so much to my donors. Without education, I would not be here.”
Ten year ago in October 2009, I found myself sitting across from Mama Warra and her late husband at Shalom Orphanage Centre in Karatu, Tanzania. I was about 1 month into my 3-month trip and had been busy with myriad projects: Journeys of Solutions
(JOS) had supported a project to finish the orphanage’s outdoor veranda and roof with the help of a volunteer family, provided funds for
school uniforms, food, electricity and market debts. I had spent time teaching English to some Shalom staff and even at the local primary school, in between arts & crafts time and sing-a-long with the youngest Shalom children. Though the days were long, they were colorful and exceeded my wildest dreams.
“Eliza, we would like for you and for JOS to focus on education.”
As the saying goes, the rest is history...
Many of you have partnered with me, with JOS, since this October 2009 conversation. Some have known me since childhood when living and working in Africa was but a dream to be realized. A few more climbed up Mount Kilimanjaro and were next to me during my first visit to Shalom in March 2008 when I first met Aggie. I’ve met some of you during your visits or volunteer trips to Karatu, whereas I've been only in e-communication with others. And many more have only seen Karatu through stories and photos, blog posts or songs.
For a woman who is rarely speechless, as I reflect on these adventures of the last ten years, including my recent three months in Tanzania, words do escape me. Simply, I am silenced by the eternal gratefulness. I am humbled by your partnership. And, I am exceedingly excited for all that is still ahead.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN | Looking Back
The CSP was created ten years ago with an aim to help children from Shalom Orphanage Centre for the duration of their schooling by offering individual donors the unique opportunity to “adopt” students and commit to their educational endeavors. In most cases, students have had one or two donors support their primary and secondary school education for the entirety of their school years.
We enrolled our first 7 students in December 2009 (Aggie among them) and at our peak in 2015, we supported 19 students. Today, we are back to 7 students, the majority of whom are in pursuit of advanced studies…but more on that later!
Over the years, in addition to supporting the students, JOS strengthened program partnerships with Shalom Orphanage Centre through regularly providing funds for food and other basic necessities and Tumaini Junior School through various initiatives such as securing library book donations, the water well project, Project Bed Nets, Technology at Tumaini, and regular volunteer visits between 2009-2016.
Several projects have been especially bittersweet – like the water well at Tumaini Junior School which was completed through memorial donations honoring my late father, John Kallop. Many of you wrote, called, and kept our family in your thoughts and prayers during the 9 months of Dad’s valiant fight. In 2013, Mom and Jahred joined me and the Tumaini family for the dedication of the water well and certainly the tears and fresh water were both free-flowing that February morning.
Check out our Timeline of Growth for more details!
Then, in 2017, as we were preparing for our first cohort of Form IV graduates, we began to see that more opportunities are afforded to not just Form IV graduates, but those holding higher/advanced degrees and certificates. As such, we began developing the Kesho Fund
[“kesho” means “tomorrow” in Swahili
] to support qualifying students who hoped to pursue advanced studies. In fact, some of our CSP students whose individual donor funding had lapsed were our first recipients of Kesho Fund
support in 2018, along with a few non-CSP students from the town of Karatu.
WHERE WE ARE HEADED | Kesho Fund & Winding Down
With our focus on our current 7 students, we remain committed to equipping these young adults with strong educational tools so that they can navigate their futures.
The Kesho Fund
will offer these tools through providing advanced educational support of up to 5 years from the time of Form IV graduation. As detailed on our Kesho Fund FAQ
, this support could include courses at vocational schools and training institutes, certificate and diploma programs or university. Qualifying students who wish to pursue higher education studies can request to receive funding for continued learning or
for a one-time business funding grant.
In the beginning, the student profile was straightforward: support was available for primary and secondary school studies so long as the students received positive behavioral reports from school and performed to the best of their abilities. And the students were primarily in one town.
In more recent years, as students began embarking upon paths of advanced studies, student profiles have been varied in that each student has chosen their own unique course of study across the country.
To respond to the complexity of these student profiles and students’ individual needs – and my ongoing remote CSP management from New York – in 2018 we hired a student management coordinator based in Tanzania. This ongoing and responsive support has proven vital as our students continue navigating young adulthood. Needless to say, it has been a true adventure.
I recently came across the statistic that in Tanzania, only 28% of students complete secondary school and only 1% enroll in higher education.
To date, 90% of JOS students who have advanced to Form IV have completed secondary school and 80% have enrolled (or will be by 2020) in higher education!
And, we are not finished just yet!
In 2020 and the years to come, we anticipate celebrating more graduations and more new beginnings for our students. And of course, we look forward to more phone calls like the one I shared with Aggie.
In 2022, our youngest student whom we enrolled at Tumaini Junior School as a first grade student in 2010, will have graduated high school and likely be preparing for his first year of advanced studies.
And by 2027, eighteen years from its inception, we anticipate sun-setting the CSP upon completion of its ambitious mission.
As we press on for a few more years, I would welcome your continued journeying with us. Perhaps you’d like to donate
to the Kesho Fund
or support a specific student
– we have three currently in need of funding and I’d love to tell you more about them! Or you could consider supporting us by adding Journeys of Solutions to your charity list for Amazon purchases (smile.amazon.com). You might even contemplate creating your own JOS project
, or perhaps you might simply subscribe to our Newsletter updates so you’re informed of all that remains ahead.
Your support of JOS’ Child Sponsorship has been invaluable and life-changing for our students. And certainly for me. So with a grateful heart, I say thank you!
Onward we go in this journey, dear friends,