Students go above and beyond for Tanzania

This year’s all-school service project at Charlotte Latin School is hitting home with students, parents and staff.

Based on connecting with students in Tanzania, Africa,  the south Charlotte school community is working to build “Bridges of Hope,” to help meet educational needs of more than 70 African students.

Service is part of the mission at Charlotte Latin School, Page McEachern, the school’s service learning committee chairperson, said. All grades at the school participate in various service projects each year, with an all-school project kicking off at the beginning of the academic year and running typically until Thanksgiving. Each year, the school goes back and forth supporting local and international organizations, such as Classroom Central, Loaves and Fishes food pantry and Habitat for Humanity in Charlotte, and Heifer International, Habitat in El Salvador and Water.org internationally.

But this year, two seniors, Josh McGinnis and Adam Windham, along with the help of librarian Jennie Stuart, had the idea to support Tumaini Tanzania – a nonprofit dedicated to students, schools and communities near Sakila, Tanzania. The organization is based on the idea that everyone should have the opportunity and education to nourish “tumaini,” which means “hope,” in Swahili. Lide Paterno, who had the chance to visit Charlotte Latin before students went home for the Thanksgiving holiday, founded the organization.

“Our students personally saw his passion,” McEachern said, giving students the added push to continue to fundraise. This year’s project will continue until the end of the school year.

The school already raised about $25,000, more than the original goal for the entire year, McEachern said. Since public school is only offered up to seventh-grade in Tanzania, the money will support students wishing to further their education via private schools.

“We went with the idea of ‘Bridges of Hope’ so we can incorporate the relationships between our students and theirs,” McEachern said. “Our biggest takeaway we are trying to stress this year is the humanism of the whole thing – we are dealing with individuals that have hopes and dreams just like we have hopes and dreams.”

Lower, middle and upper school students all have held various fundraisers so far this school year, including pledging reading time in lower school; hosting dodge ball tournaments, dress down days and selling cookbooks in middle school; and bake sales and no-shave November in upper school. They’ve taken up donations at school dances, sporting events and held a faculty and staff walk/run event at the beginning of the school year, McEachern said, adding the fundraising events have been numerous, in addition to donations online from parents, faculty and staff.

In the middle school, each class has a goal of raising at least $324, enough money to provide education for one student for an entire year. That includes the price of schooling, uniforms, books, food and more: essentially everything a student would need.

“We’ve raised more money than we expected to at this point, but in middle school, not every individual classroom has met their goals yet,” McEachern said, adding the school will continue to fundraise throughout the school year to provide funds for other expenses they initially didn’t take into account and to help with future needs of the organization.

“It’s been exciting, and it’s not over,” McEachern said. “The parents like the idea that everyone is rallying around the same thing, and all three divisions already have plans for more fundraisers and activities planned throughout the school year.”

Find more information on the organization at www.tumainitanzania.org.

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