Whenever we get new students at Next Life Foundation I try to interview each one with Laurence’s help interpreting. It gives me a very tiny glimpse into their lives.
It doesn’t cost the student, or family, anything to come to our school, so our directors are very selective and have a thorough process to make sure we have the neediest of the needy being trained.
When I start to think I’m understanding the Tanzanian culture something comes along and shatters my total perception! But a mother’s love is similar from culture to culture and as a mom, I would feel such relief and hope if my child was accepted into one of our programs at Next Life. Daily life is so hard here in Tanzania. Let me give you a few examples of our twenty eight new tailoring students.
Isaka got very sick when he was young; to the point that he was unable to attend school beyond Standard 4. He’s a small statured 14 year old with a huge smile that matches his personality. With a 4th grade education his mother probably dreaded his growing up and having to work out in the fields. The family has no money to send him to a trade school plus most require a minimum education of Standard 7. What a huge relief it must have been when Isaka was accepted to NLF. Graduation day was the first day we met but he didn’t hesitate to sit by me and put his arm around me for a picture. Now that is bold!
Musa is another one of our new tailoring students. He’s 18 years old and stands 4ft 1in tall. He has a heart condition so he would never make it working in the fields. It is a 4 hour walk for him to get to class each morning but sometimes he is able to scrounge together bus money (1000 tsh or $.43 to get to Mbuguni and back). What joy and relief his mother must have felt when he was accepted into our school! He will now have a future in tailoring.
I always ask the students about their families when I visit with them. Some have lost their parents and siblings so are living with relatives. Some have interact families. When I asked Florah about her family the tears started coming. Her father went to work in the tanzanite mines and he hasn’t returned. They haven’t heard from him and it’s been a long time. The blue/purple gem, tanzanite, is only found in a small area of the world, near Mbuguni. The mining business is extremely dangerous. The unknown, whether Florah’s father is dead or alive, must be excruciatingly painful. I’m sure he lost his life in the perilous mine… But the unknown!
I say it so often – we take SO much for granted in America; the opportunity for education, the opportunity for employment, and just the opportunities. It’s so easy to get “compassion weary” here in Tanzania because everyone has such real need. As we truly give those at Next Life Foundation opportunity, it will change Tanzania.
Bwana Asifiwe (Praise the Lord), Patti
(I’ll be working on getting all our students on our website. “Sponsorship” tab on top of page then “Students” on right side of page. A student can be sponsored for $60/month)