Naitolia is a small Maasai village in northern Tanzania. It is home to about 2,000 people, and of those 2,000 souls, 392 have influenced us incredibly. They are the members of the Naitolia Primary School, and each day the stories, interactions and moments with them have brought all of us on the MSU study abroad great joy. They are not just children; they are our family, our brothers and our sisters.
Unfortunately, this year’s dry season has come in full force; rain is sporadic and scarce, making it difficult to support the agricultural efforts that supply the village and the school with food. For those in this community, food is not a basic right. Rather, it is something easily taken away, and often unobtainable for almost half of every year. Food programs previously put in place have been cut, and now these students are going without meals during the day, sometimes for days on end. Without this basic necessity, the students have trouble focusing in the classroom and attendance dwindles.
Our goal is to purchase approximately two years’ worth of food for the school’s use during the dry season. In the wet season, the community has enough agriculture to support them, but once the wet season is over and the climate becomes arid, there is not enough food or money to provide school lunches. Many children in Naitolia walk over a mile to get to school, and these lunches are a source of nutrition that they depend on to survive. Without it, they struggle mentally and physically every day.
Food is an immediate need, and cannot be ignored. While we are raising this money now, we are also looking for long-term solutions to this problem through private and governmental organizations. Applying for support from these types of organizations is a lengthy process and the needs of the children in Naitolia cannot wait.
One month of food costs $500, but transportation from Dar Es Salaam to Naitolia will also have to be taken into account.
The funds for this project will be used to buy corn and beans for the school children and also to cover transportation costs to deliver the food. A month’s worth of food is $500 and it will cost around $100 for transportation each month.
An employee of the Tanzanian Partnership Program in Dar Es Salaam will buy the food and transport it to Naitolia. It is possible to deliver multiple months of food at once. This will help cut down on transportation costs. Our goal is $5,000, which will purchase a little less than 12 months of food, not including transportation cost.
We are six students from Michigan State University who participated in a study abroad program that focused on community development in Naitolia. During our time in Tanzania, we renovated a classroom and made study aids for the students. We spent four weeks working with the children, becoming a part of their families. We have laughed with them, cried with them, and we love them.
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