This morning I was in town and was told to be ready for breakfast at 6:58 am because my car would leave for Kibaha at 7:30. I got to eat breakfast with the founder of WIPAHS and his wife, which is always more than a pleasure. This is one thing I love about this place. You can be in constant contact with those who run WIPAHS and bring about changes you feel passionate about. You just have to be dedicated and be the own who wants to create that change because no one has the time to fix what you see.
Anyways, I was sitting at breakfast (which by the way is an amazing breakfast which has chappatis, bread, egg, and yoghurt). I always get spoilt at this house and am really taken care of. This was the place I spent my first night, what seemed foreign then has now become one of my homes. The founder asks me what I think of the place so far and quite honestly I tell him that I feel like this place has a lot of potential but within the system there are several breakdowns. He agrees and goes on to tell me a story.
He starts by telling me about the lack of initiative in the locals. This is something that he says the colonialists are responsible for . One after the other (from the Arabs, to the British to the Germans) they controlled the people of Tanzania with a stronger and stronger hand. One of the hardest challenges has been to change the mentality of the locals and to make them believe that they can bring about change. It’s not surprising that this is a difficult challenge because for over a century they were told what to do from a superior force and thinking differently was frowned upon.
When the founder started this organization, the school had about 80 students so he was able to have one on one time with the kids and carry out projects himself. But now the school has grown to 1300 students and obviously cannot do it alone.
He tells me of a project he personally started where he suggested to the students at Wali Ul Asr (who are disadvantaged) that they create a welfare club. (The point was to instill charity in students from an early age). Every person in this club would give 100 shillings towards those who are less fortunate to them (100 shillings can’t buy you much, maybe two mandazis) but with everyone’s 100 shillings something may be achieved. Amongst them would be a president; a vice president and they would organize this club. Some of the kids even came up to him and asked, “What if we want to give more?” and he told them they could give whatever they wanted.
He had started this project and tried to delegate this to another teacher. A month later he came back and the kids came up to him asking him where the collection box was. They told him “you promised us we would have a collection box, where is it?” (Where in the world will people, let alone kids who have nothing, ask for a collection box?) Anyways, he brought the collection box and some kids gave and others didn’t and with that money he took the students to an orphanage which was outside of Kibaha. Some of the students even brought some soap and toothpaste for the kids at the orphanage, (remember this is all coming from their own money). He arranged the orphanage kids from smallest to biggest and then told the students from Wipahs to find the size of each of these kids and then go and buy them slippers with the money they had accumulated. They went and bought them slippers and some students started to cry with emotion and felt like they had made this difference. Unfortunately, this project stopped because there was nobody to continue this project as the founder himself had other things to do and nobody would take the initiative to continue. This story highlighted two things for me: one that there was a lack of initiative amongst the manpower and secondly how amazing it was that those who had nothing still had something to share.
He told me of another project he had started but had no one to follow it through. He had started planting seeds with the students. Today he was planting a seed; tomorrow it would become someone’s livelihood ripe with fruits. Not only would it give them a means to live; it would also create more greenery and fight off deforestation. I was amazed at the simplicity of this idea yet the sheer brilliance of it at the same time.
He tells me that if there were at least 5 of us together, we could do wonders in Kibaha. I find that after having breakfast with him, I am so inspired and ready to take on these old projects. Yet, it is just a matter of time before even I realize that I am also just one person and there is only so much I can do.These ideas that he has are so creative yet he does not have the people to delegate them to. There is potential for growth but there needs to be someone there pushing them along.
Those who run this place are the most dedicated group of people I have seen in my entire life. Their whole lives are dedicated to servitude of those who are less fortunate yet there is only so much a small group of people can do. This organization easily helps over 2000 people and with the help of others can help many more. This place needs any kind of person from a university student, to a teacher to a professional doctor. You probably have a skill that they don’t or a service that they do not have access to so there is always work to be done or knowledge to be shared.