My Journey to Tanzania, East Africa with The School Fund

Photo courtesy of Kim Le

By Jonathan Gilbert, 2014 TSF Summer Fellow

I knew I wanted to visit Africa after attending the School Fund’s first birthday party back when I was in seventh grade. The School Fund (TSF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged students in developing countries further their education. Matt Severson, co founder of TSF, gave a talk during the party. I remember being incredibly impressed and moved by Matt’s passion and commitment to The School Fund.

Last June I had the opportunity to visit Tanzania and see it with my own eyes. After a 44-hour journey from San Francisco to Tanzania including four flights, one missed connection, and a ten-hour bus ride, I finally arrived in Iringa. Iringa Photo courtesy of Kim Leis located in the Southern Highlands where The School Fund sponsors more than 40 students. There, I taught science classes and played sports with the School Fund students.

I felt an instant connection with these students.  Outwardly, they seemed like kids who could be from any part of the world. They enjoyed soccer and basketball, just like me. Their eyes sparkled and their smiles widened with recognition as I played Shakira and Justin Bieber’s music from my phone – music they had previously heard on their communal radio.  We also shared the same passion for learning and insatiable curiosity.

Although they wore carefree smiles, as I got to know these students by talking to them about their life experiences and visiting with their families, I learned that outside of their schools, they face incredible hardships.

Only a handful of lucky students had two parents. More commonly, they lived with one parent, grandparent, or relative who struggled as a common farmer or market laborer to put food on the table for the entire family.   Many also lived in orphanages because their parents were too poor to raise them or chose to abandon their children.  Many children had to work hard to provide their family income.

The CIA World Fact book indicates that in Tanzania, the average person earns only $4.66 a day.  Many families have lost parents to AIDS, malaria, and various illnesses that could have been treated if only they had a medical clinic nearby or enough money to buy medicine. Up to 10% suffer from HIV/AIDS. Three million of the 18 million children are orphaned due to a variety of causes, with HIV, alcoholism, and abandonment being most common.

Many children are undernourished and neglected, and end up living in orphanages or on the streets.  In the rural areas, houses are made of makeshift cardboard and mud. The neighborhoods are lined with trash, and the air smells filthy from fire and rotten garbage.

Only a high performing one-third of Tanzanian children are able to go on to secondary school. However, these students routinely get expelled because they cannot pay their school fees.

What struck me the most was the students’ innocence and eagerness to learn, and what going to school actually meant for them. For these students, obtaining an education was the only escape out of their oppressive world. Without a good education, they would stay trapped in the dreaded cycle of poverty. I didn’t realize how much it meant to them until I saw on their faces the expressions of gratitude for the classes brought to them by The School Fund.

In this region of the world, with more than 44% of the population younger than 15 years old, I believe the future of Tanzania depends on the very young generation to break the dreaded cycle of poverty, disease, and violence.

I cannot think of a better cause than to give these eager students the gift of education that will allow them to achieve their dreams.  With the help of The School Fund, today’s students can become tomorrow’s leaders, and bring a brighter future to their country.

An Interview with Lucas R.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is home in Karatu, Tanzania.  Last week, John interviewed Lucas R., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2013.  View Lucas’ TSF profile and Journal here.

Lucas R. is in Form Four at Mlimani Secondary School in Karatu and is 18 years old.  Lucas has one sister and one brother and they live with their mom and dad.  His dad and mom cook on the street and sell food to earn money to support the family.  They live in a small house which has two rooms.  Lucas said his mom was always responsible for the family more than his father, so most of the time he grew up under the care of his mother.

When I asked Lucas about life in Africa, he said life is tough in Africa because some families in Africa sleep without having food every day and he said this is caused by a lack of education as they don’t know how to make money to support daily costs.

When I asked him about hardship, Lucas said the hardest moment of his life is when his family was in Dar es Salaam. There, they were living in a house they rented, but their house was sold by the owner of the house and his father and mother did not have somewhere else to stay, so the father shifted to Karatu and Lucas, his brother, and sister had to live with someone in their family.  In 2007, Lucas had to follow his father to Karatu where his dad was working as a cook in a hotel and was able to pay for his rent.  After Lucas, the whole family moved to Karatu and family life began again.

Lucas finds doing personal revision at home to be challenging because sometimes there is no paraffin and hence no power.  In addition, he sometimes has to help his parents sell food after school, so he comes home late and tired and falls asleep without finding time to read for school.

His biggest dream is to become a pilot and when I asked why he said he just loves it from his heart and he doesn’t know why he likes it but he dreams of it.

Lucas said kids suffer a lot as most of them lack their parents’ love and care.  Kids become street children, especially those who come from uneducated families.

For him he sees The School Fund as his heart and he said TSF has improved his life by sending him to secondary school and exposing him to the internet.  In his school, there are no computers, so he believes if it weren’t for TSF not even half his dream could be fulfilled.  But with TSF’s support, he says, he will soon reach his destiny and his dream will be fulfilled. Lucas concluded the interview by saying that in reality education is always the light.  No education will lead to a life full of darkness.

A Message from TSF Founder Matt Severson

I co-founded The School Fund over four years ago after a life changing experience in Tanzania.  I was amazed that something as little as $150 per year in school fees could stand in the way of a young boy or girl and their ability to continue going to school.  Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced of the power of education.  In countries with a per capital income of $2 per day or less, each year of school a student completes means a 10% increase in future earning capacity.

Furthermore, unlike a food handout, that which is learned can never be taken away.

I’m delighted with the impact The School Fund has had so far.  In four years, we have supported 765 students, funded 1225 years of education and graduated 157 students—with individual donors contributing anywhere between $1-$500. We’ve secured incredible partnerships with Chegg, Kathy Ireland, Grammy-nominated artist Carolyn Malachi and more.  I’m even more excited about the impact still to come. We’ve reached a tipping point and see that we are at the precipice of reaching many more students. Exciting new partnerships are in the works.Drika Weller, PhD

To help propel us through this next stage of growth, we needed someone who could bring expertise in education and international development—someone who could dedicate herself entirely to The School Fund’s next chapter.  And so I’m thrilled to welcome Drika Weller, PhD as The School Fund’s new CEO.  She comes to us from USAID’s Global
Development Lab where she spearheaded programs to help children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa emerge from adversity.

Drika is that unique combination of scholar and passionate advocate.  She has hit the ground running, and from the relationships she has already helped The School Fund establish, I can see she will lead us toward a bright future.

I will continue to be heavily involved with The School Fund from my spot as Board Chair and remain committed as ever to our mission: to create a world where any student, no matter where they are born, is able to get an education.

The School Fund: A Gateway to Secondary Education

By Drika Weller, Chief Executive Officer of The School Fund

When our founder Matt Severson met John Medo in 2010, John had already proven his academic ability. He’d passed his secondary school qualifying exams and was eager to learn more. But he lacked the $150 to pay his school fees and faced dropping out as a result. If not for Matt’s ability to raise those funds, John’s educational journey might have stopped then and there.

Today, millions of children are in precisely the position John was once in. They have worked and excelled throughout primary school, only to fall short financially when they were ready to move up through the next step in their educations. In fact, today increasing numbers of children are failing to take the step from primary to secondary school.

Expanded Primary School Attendance

We are currently experiencing a global, seismic shift in access to education. The United Nation’s laudable second Millennium Development Goal—that by 2015, boys and girls everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling—is gaining traction.

In developing countries, by 2010, primary school enrollment reached 90 percent—that’s up from 82 percent in 1999. One major contributing factor to that jump in enrollment is the abolition of primary school fees in many countries.

By eliminating primary school fees, Kenya, for example, quickly enrolled an additional 2 million students in primary school. Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment increased 88 percent between 2000-2007. By abolishing school fees in 2001, Tanzania almost doubled its primary enrollment rates from 1999.

This shift has led to an exploding demand for secondary school, yet it has not translated into secondary school attendance. Why?

Secondary School Bottleneck

In many cases, there simply isn’t room for the swelling ranks of primary-educated students. According to one 2011 United Nations report, two out of three African children are effectively shut out of secondary school. (In sub-Saharan Africa there are only enough spaces for 36 percent of secondary school aged students.)

Other barriers abound: few low-income countries provide free secondary education; distance to school often increases at the secondary level; and drop-out rates grow where young people face school violence, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. What’s more, secondary education often costs more per student—tuition fees go up and there are uniforms to pay for. Families measure these costs against what their sons and daughters could be earning if put to work.

Staying in school is especially hard for girls.

Girls and boys attend school in equal numbers in only 2 out of 130 countries. Girls make it to primary school, but then drop out. The root of the problem is often poverty. Girls and women in many parts of the world spend hours every day fetching water. At school they face lack of access to decent sanitation facilities. Pregnancy, child marriage, gender roles, and violence also hinder girls’ ability to pursue secondary education.

But the new educational reality is this: despite rapid gains in primary school attendance, bright young minds are stuck at an educational bottleneck—and for some, that barrier is still a sum of around $150.

Filling the Gap

Despite tremendous gains in education across many developing nations, it is projected that only 56 percent of countries will achieve universal primary education by 2015. Even if, as expected, universal lower secondary education becomes an explicit goal after 2015, we are clearly (and sadly) many years from making that goal a reality.

The School Fund exists to fill a financial gap for high-achieving students. Many of them dream of being doctors, lawyers, engineers, or even teachers. They are the very students who could fail to make that leap from primary to secondary school; they may be forced out of secondary school after a year or two of study. They are the young people represented by the statistics that show how universal primary education is beginning to work—and how access to secondary education is so painfully limited.

It is for these students that we work. I know first-hand the impact that an education has had on my own and my family’s life, and I feel a strong desire to help give this opportunity to others. One funded student at a time—and through each journal entry—they show us who their education is allowing them to become. They show us why access to secondary education is essential.

Education is a Battle: A Poem by TSF TZ Students in Iringa

Education is a Battle

by Our Tanzanian Buddies: Shadya, Moza, Mwajuma, Mwanahana, Shamila and Swabra

Inspired by Ugandan Poet Okoth P Bitek

Education is a battle and I will fight it

Studying hard and sleepless nights, Burning candles on both sides,

These are my weapons, by tooth and nails I shall never rest until I achieve my goals

 

Education is a battle I shall fight it,

Waking up early, in cold weather,

Bathing in dust, from home to school

Walking a long distance with the hot sun on my body, on empty stomach, I study hard.

But I shall never give up in this battle.

 

I will never give up in the battle, until I succeed

I want to live in style, just like whites

Comfortable villas, Cars, parties, and a stable income

I want to have all that, just for a change

I will work hard until I see my dreams come true

Exactly!

I will work hard, and never give up!

 

It is very simple to achieve goals, for all it takes is patience have patience in your education

The roots to education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet,

With all the hardship we carry on, bit by bit we move on

The first step is taken in the right direction, we are confident of our bright future

For will never give up in this battle, the struggle and we shall win

 

Every one tells me to work hard, which is the other way of saying study hard

I shall surely work hard, for the concern of my future,

The ignorance are slowing down national development, Speaking economically,

We will call them illiterate of cause it is true.

 

Hard work is the mainstay of mankind,

And it should begin from schoolwork,

I do not need to be lectured so many hours on that fact, I know.

I will work hard like no man’s business, This will give me pride

And the bitter sweat of my face will taste sweet in the future

I know who I should work hard for,

Myself

Yes,

For me!

TSF TZ Karatu Students Meeting – May 3, 2014

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is home in Karatu, Tanzania as he awaits his final exam results.  While home, John will support TSF students in Karatu, located in Northern Tanzania near Mt. Kilimanjaro, with their journaling and conduct interviews with them as he did with students in Iringa. Earlier this month, John helped TSF TZ Karatu Representative Elias Matay to facilitate a meeting for all TSF supported students in Karatu.  

Below are minutes from the meeting:

AGENDA

1. OPENING THE MEETING

2. SELF INTRODUCTION

3. ACADEMIC ISSUES

4. STUDENTS WORKSHOP

5. STUDENTS JOURNALS

6. CHALLENGES OF THE STUDENTS

7. TSF US TEAM TO KARATU

8. STUDENTS DREAMS

9. CLOSING

The meeting was opened officially by John, TSF’s first student, who is interning for TSF, by welcoming all students and informing them all about TSF.

Elias, TSF TZ Karatu Representative welcomed all members encouraging each member in attendance to introduce themself.

After introductions, John asked Mr. Paulo, a teacher at Ganako Secondary School, to give short details and talk to students.  He often meets with students to help them with their journals.  Mr. Paulo reminded students that it’s up to them to work hard to insure strong academic performance. With the help of their teachers and their hard work, they will fulfill their dreams.

Elias reminded students that TSF is unable to support students, who do not perform well in school.  He told Mlimani students especially, as their exam results were poor, that they need to work hard.  Elias reminded them that TSF seeks out students who are in the top ten of their class with higher than average scores.

The students agreed that they will work hard and also stated what they want in the future.  Most said they want to be doctors, lawyers, and teachers and all agreed that only through education will their dreams come true.

Students were not clear on the importance of journaling, but after a brief explanation by Elias and John, the students said they will always come although there are many of them and there is only one working computer.  However, Elias and John informed the students that TSF TZ Director Judy Severson and the TSF Team will bring computers with them this summer [to establish an after-school computer center in Karatu similar to the program in Iringa].  They all agreed that they will always come to journal and that should they miss the opportunity to journal, explanations will be required.

The students were happy to hear about the workshop this summer starting in June established by Judy and the Team during which TSF students will learn tips for preparing for their exams, how to build self confidence, how to work in teams and collaborate with one another, and also to learn some computer skills including how to use Google and Wikipedia for their studies.

Students had no major challenges to share, so Elias and John encouraged them to study hard, excel at their studies, and to establish strong time management skills in order to do so.

Every student was so happy after hearing the TSF Team will visit Kartu, so they all welcomed the team to Karatu and are preparing to receive and host the team.  They hope that the team will enjoy themselves in Karatu and have lots of fun.

Then before the meeting was closed John asked the students what The School Fund has done for them.  Most said that TSF has supported their academic [pursuits], has provided some computer knowledge through journaling, and has united them.  One student stated that without TSF, he could not have gotten to know some of the other students, Elias, and John, too.

John asked what their responsibility to TSF is.  They said that it’s their responsibility to not let TSF down — by passing their exams and fulfilling their dreams.

Before the end, John and Elias thanked Mr. Paulo for beeng kind to TSF since the beginning.  Mr. Paulo was also very happy and said he will keep working with TSF since he likes helping and feels that he has also been helped by TSF.

Students did not have any questions, but gave their thanks to the TSF
Team including John, Elias, and Mr. Paulo.  John reminded students about the importance of communicating with people from other countries and that journaling can build friendships with other students.  John also showed the students how to use the Community Page and the students were very happy and asked to join the discussion.

After not having any other business, the meeting was closed at 1:00pm.

TSF TZ Iringa Committee April 11, 2014 – Meeting Notes

Since 2009, The School Fund has been supporting students in Iringa, Tanzania. TSF’s relationship with Iringa began when our Founder & President Matt Severson visited the area on a volunteer trip.  There, he became familiar with Lugalo Secondary School, a government school with many under resourced students, who, while academically bright, were unable to pay their school fees.  After launching TSF, Matt developed a partnership with the school to help support students there.  TSF’s support in Iringa has expanded to support 33 students at three additional secondary schools including Ummu Salama, Miyomboni, and Highland Secondary School.  TSF TZ, managed by Judy Severson, seeks out students at the top of their class, who are unable to pay their school fees and provides them with financial support as well as computer fluency tutorials.

TSF is fortunate to be supported by an Advisory Board in Iringa comprised of established stakeholders in the community and lead by Chairman Fuad Jaffar, a major industrial leader in the region and owner of Asas Dairies Ltd.

Last month, on April 11, 2014, Fuad convened a TSF TZ Iringa Advisory Meeting at the Ummu Salama Secondary School.  Below are minutes from the meeting:

AGENDA

  1. OPENING THE MEETING
  2. PARENTS RESPONSIBILITIES FOR TSF SPONSORED STUDENTS
  3. TSF US TRIP TO IRINGA
  4. STUDENTS/TEACHERS WORKSHOP
  5. SELECTION OF NEW STUDENTS FOR TSF 2015 SPONSORSHIP
  6. CLOSE OF BUSINESS

The meeting was opened officially by Mama Swai the Headmistress of Miyomboni Secondary School.  She welcomed all parents and informed them all about TSF.  The chairman welcomed all members allowing each member in attendance to introduce themself.

After introductions, the chairman asked Mr. Amos Maroa, [the TSF TZ Iringa Representative and the Director of the MMM Center], to state the agenda for the meeting. Mr. Amos informed all the members present that there would be two sessions. The first session involves parents and the TSF Iringa Advisory Committee members and the second session would only involve the TSF Iringa Advisory Committee members.

The chairman informed the members present that the meeting was aimed at uniting all parents and people with TSF TZ responsibilities.  He requested that Mr. Amos make sure that there was a clear record of parents, who attended and all those who did not attend should give reasons for their absence during the next meeting.

He also commented on Mama Swai’s opening speech that there should be transparency in everything that is done by TSF.  Parents should receive clear information from schools that their children are studying.

Parents were informed by the chairman that they should be ready to help their children improve their academic performance including by visiting their children’s schools to get their children’s academic reports.  He also emphasized that all parents should unite to develop the students sponsored by TSF.  He requested that there be an Iringa TSF Parent Committee to meet and discuss how to help their children’s careers. The chairman requested that each school appoint one parent, who will then represent all parents during Iringa Advisory Committee meetings.

Mr. Amos was requested to explain to the parents what was expected of them by TSF.  Mr. Amos explained in detail all activities carried out by TSF TZ including payment of school fees, school supplies, uniforms, and food. Mr. Amos also explained to the parents all that is done at the MMM Center at Ummu Salama [where students are provided English language lessons and computer fluency tutorials]. It was realized that most parents didn’t know what their children do at the MMM Center, but after the information, they promised to remind their children not to miss any day at the MMM Center.  Mr. Amos will make sure that parents receive a form with written conditions for students to maintain their TSF sponsorships.

The Headmistress of Miyomboni S.S. encouraged all parents to value the help they’re getting from TSF. She also encouraged parents to support their children including insisting that they work hard and attend the MMM Center.

Mr. Abdul Madauda, the TSF representative from Highlands S.S thanked the TSF TZ leadership for everything they are doing. He encouraged parents to keep up communication between parents and teachers and between teachers and students.  He insisted that there be a strong link between parents, teachers, and students.  In addition, Mr. Abdul encouraged parents to occasionally visit the schools where their children are studying.

Mr. Abdul Nchahaga, Deputy Headmaster at Ummusalama Secondary School, requested that there should be a close communication between parents and TSF leadership. He mentioned an incident concerning a TSF TZ sponsored student named Innocent, who was very sick but the parent had not informed TSF TZ leadership. He requested that parents communicate with TSF TZ so that any issues affecting a TSF TZ sponsored student’s academic performance could be tackled in a timely manner.

Before the chairman welcomed comments and questions, he requested that all parents should follow up with their children’s schools and also that they should know where MMM Center is and what their children do there.

A parent wanted to know why TSF TZ Iringa students stopped learning different subjects at the MMM Center. The chairman responded by informing all parents that students do not learn different subjects at MMM Center because the program was interfering with students’ remedial classes especially the candidate classes [those preparing for Form Two and Form Four exams].  This issue was discussed by the Iringa Advisory Committee last year, who resolved that students should only attend the MMM Center to update their journals on Fridays for Form Ones and Form Threes and Saturdays 3:00pm to 5:30pm for Form Twos and Form Fours.

The chairman closed the meeting by asking one parent whether she knows what students gain from TSF. The parent clearly stated each and everything that TSF does for students in Iringa.

An Interview with Aziza J.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is home in Karatu, Tanzania as he awaits his final exam results.  While home, John will support TSF students in Karatu with their journaling and conduct interviews with them as he did with students in Iringa.  Last week, John interviewed Aziza J., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2013.  View Aziza’s TSF profile and Journal here.

Aziza is 17 years old and in form four at Mlimani Secondary School in Karatu.  She is among the best in her class.

Aziza has one sister and two brothers and lives with her grandmother and father, who stays at home sick and is unable to work to support the family. Unfortunately, Aziza never met her mother, but believes she is still alive and living in Arusha City, which is just two or three hours from Karatu. Aziza’s mother left Aziza and her siblings with their grandmother complaining that life was too hard. It is suspected that Aziza’s mother has a new family in Arusha.  Aziza used to ask her father about her mother, but her father had few answers.

Aziza does small jobs like cutting grass and selling goods.  Sometimes, she helps to cultivate people’s farms.  Her father earns some money, but spends it on alcohol.  When Aziza’s grandmother could not find employment, Aziza and her siblings only received one bowl of porridge a day. Aziza worries about her younger siblings.  Due to a lack of money, Aziza’s sister was married off after completing standard seven.  Her brothers are still in primary school. Aziza plans to help her grandmother support her brothers when they reach secondary school.

Aziza believes that life in Africa can only be easy for those who are educated and know the advantage of an education.  Aziza struggles to find time to read at home as she is expected to fill the role of her mother as the only girl at home.  She is responsible for cooking and washing even into the late hours.  They have no electricity at home, so Aziza uses a kerosene lamp or candle to light her chores.  Often, Aziza goes to sleep without having time to do her school readings, so she spends much of her time catching up in school.

Aziza dreams of becoming a lawyer because she wants to discipline people who [infringe] on human rights. Aziza believes that only with education will she be able to help all those, who have not been educated.

Aziza says that The School Fund has been like a family to her as it supports her education and, through journaling, she has gained some knowledge about computers.  Without TSF, Aziza says she would have dropped out of school. She promises to do her best to excel in school and achieve her dreams.

An Interview With Mohamed S.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, spent time earlier this year in Iringa as an intern for TSF and an assistant to TSF advisor, Fuad Abri.  John recently traveled back home to Karatu in Northern Tanzania where he will continue interviews with students there.  In early 2014, before he left Iringa, John interviewed Mohamed S., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2012.  View Mohamed’s TSF profile and Journal here.

Mohamed is in Form Three at Ummu Salama Secondary School and is 15 years old. He has three sisters and no brother. His father, who was the Headmaster of Ummu Salama Secondary School, died in 2005. His mother is still alive but lives is in Dar es Salam. His mother does not have a job but her relatives are helping her. When Mohamed’s father died, the orphanage center took care of Mohamed since the people who run the center knew his father and they had to help their mother as [she did not have] a job to allow her to take care of the family. TSF [provided fees for Mohamed’s] secondary school education, but Mohamed finished primary [school] at Ummu Salama under the good care of the orphanage center.

Mohamed said life in Africa is good and becoming easier since people are getting an education and some get good care like him. Though he also said life might not be easy for those who are not educated and for those who are not under good care.

Mohamed said he has never experienced any hardship. His biggest challenge was when he got good grades, but his [peers] neglected him and started discriminating [against] him. Despite the fact that they did all this, he has never given up and he will always put a lot of effort into his studies to reach his goals.

Mohamed dreams of becoming a doctor and to be useful to his society and the world at large. If Mohamed could have anything in this world, he would [choose] an education because he thinks when he is educated, he can achieve whatever he wants.

Mohamed believes that a large number of children in Africa live a very difficult life especially those who live in [rural] villages. He said this is because their parents are not educated and do not know the importance of education and even if they know, they can not afford to [send] their kids to school, so this make their life hard.

Mohamed says, for him, that TSF is everything and has been helping him and his sister, Zahra S., who is now in Form Five. He says The School Fund has saved his life and his sister’s life since it has been paying for their school fees, which is a very big 
help to the orphanage center that has been helping them since when they were young.

An Interview with Felix M.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, spent time earlier this year in Iringa as an intern for TSF and an assistant to TSF advisor, Fuad Abri.  John recently traveled back home to Karatu in Northern Tanzania where he will continue interviews with students there.  In early 2014, before he left Iringa, John interviewed Felix M., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2014.  View Felix’s TSF profile and Journal here.

Felix studies at Highlands Secondary School in Form Two.  He is 15 years old and lives with his father, his mother, and his two sisters.  He is the first born of his family.  His father is a house builder, which does not offer permanent work, so he is currently unemployed and they get very little money.  Sometimes the money is not enough even for their basic needs, so Felix’s mother cooks and sells food on the street and that is how they raise their children.  Education caused Felix’s parents concern because they did not know how they would pay for their kids’ fees.

Felix passed his Standard Seven National Exam and he was assigned to Mtuivila Secondary School, but he decided to go to Highlands Secondary School instead because of Mtuivila’s poor reputation.

Felix said life in Africa is hard because some of the parents did not attend school, so they even don’t know the importance of school and therefore don’t send their kids to school. Those who understand the importance of education often don’t have the ability to send their kids to secondary school due to unemployment or poorly paying jobs.

Felix had a hard time when he was chased away from school because he was unable to pay his fees.  He felt very bad about missing classes and feared that his teacher would not repeat what he had missed, so he gave up and told himself that his dream would not come true.  Felix shares that the hardest time of his life is when his father chased his mother away from home due to a misunderstanding.  For some time, Felix and his siblings had nothing to eat and when his father returned, he insulted and hit his children.

Now, Felix says he does not have any challenges because his fees are being paid by The School Fund.  His only challenge is that at school they don’t have enough books for personal reading time.

Felix’s big dream for the future is to become a surgeon because he wants to help society and says that many people are dying in his country because they cannot afford to seek further treatment.  He wants to help them and provide treatment in their homes.  If he could have everything in this world, Felix dreams of owning a big laboratory and having a good job in a hospital where he will be helping people.

Felix was very happy when he was chosen to be part of The School Fund and knew that his dream will come true since he could now afford to attend school daily.  He is working hard to fulfill his dream and feels that TSF is an instrument of liberation for those, like him, who do not have the financial means to seek education.