Sue Werner is the founder and director of Hearts in Unity, a local non-profit organization dedicated to a mission to feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania. Join us as we explore a world on the other side of the world and life in the small, remote villages of Tanzania, Africa. Karibu! Welcome!
I tried to pick up and move my daughters backpack the other day and I just about threw my back out from the effort!
Have you tried lifting the backpack of a middle school or high school student lately? The backpack seams were straining against the pressure of the stack of thick textbooks, spiral notebooks and a myriad of school supplies. I couldn't remember ever carrying that much weight in my own backpack -- even as a college student.
Out of curiosity, I got out the scale and hoisted the backpack onto it as my daughter watched with a raised eyebrow. 42 pounds! Most airlines would decline one's attempt to bring a backpack like this on a plane as carryon luggage due to the sheer weight of it. Midwest Express limits the weight of a carryon bag to just 35 pounds these days. It was then that my daughter nonchalantly told me that she had more textbooks that didn't fit in the backpack. Unbelievable.
I remember reading a government report years back when we first started our mission work in Tanzania, Africa, about how there was an average, nationally, of 1 textbook for every 5 students in this third world country. I was already well aware at that point of the shortage of teachers, schools, textbooks and school supplies in Tanzanian schools.
In one of the Tanzanian schools we help to support through Hearts in Unity, more than 20 students were sharing a single textbook -- gathering around that single book to copy the information into their small notebooks. Just 3-4 textbooks in a classroom of 75 or more students. And most of the textbooks have long passed their "life expectancy" -- torn, tattered and some even painstakingly sewn back together at the spine with a piece of string.
Yet, neither student nor teacher would ever consider throwing away one of the few books at this remote village school. They understand the gift that is within the pages of a book -- the gift of knowledge. A powerful gift. A gift that brings hope. Knowledge as the stepping stone out of the poverty which is the very fabric of their lives. Education as the key to overcoming the poverty and oppression of countless generations before them. A simple gift that means so much to those who have so little.
The little ones at Holy Cross Preschool recently learned about "Life in Tanzania" -- these young students and their teachers alike, captivated by the photos and stories of the Tanzanian children they saw living in a remote village on the other side of the world. Life the same in so many ways, but yet so different.
We at Hearts in Unity want to recognize the kindness and generosity of those at the Holy Cross Preschool, extending our heartfelt thanks to these thoughtful children and their families, as well as the preschool teachers, who opened their hearts to the children of Tanzania. The generous donation toward the purchase of much needed textbooks for the students and teachers at Seela Primary School is a real blessing. Thank you.
If you would like to help give a gift of books to the students and teachers in the remote villages in Tanzania, Africa, please send your donation to Hearts in Unity, P.O Box 41, Germantown, WI 53022. Donations via credit card are also welcome (click here to donate online).
Each textbook, purchased in Tanzania, is just $5.00. A small price for a gift that can bring hope and truly help change life of a child on the other side of the world.
How wonderful it would be for a Tanzanian student to have a backpack so full of books that they can hardly lift it!