I have a picture in my head of five young adults, dressed in their best business suits, smart, smiling, confident. They all grew up in remote rural villages, were diligent students, did well in school, and were supported by my congregation during their university studies. When the photo was taken ten years ago, they were fresh out of school, in their first jobs, eager, hopeful, full of potential.
They've come so far. One, the first girl from her village to complete form six, entered university for wildlife management, and is now employed by the government managing a national game park in the northern part of the country.
Another, raised by his elderly grandmother, is now a community developer working on economic development projects with women living with HIV. He recently contributed most of the iron sheets needed to complete the chapel construction in his home congregation.
Another is a pastor, another a bank manager and the last is a hotel manager in Dar. All of them started life with the expectation that their own futures would mirror their parents' lives of subsistence farming, until the opportunity of a lifetime came their way.
Since the start of this Bega Kwa Bega relationship, education has been an important focus of our life together. From building a university to providing scholarships for secondary students, supporting education has been a priority. The Rev. Lynda Thompson wrote here
about the five ways BKB is supporting education through secondary scholarships, scholarships for students from congregations without partners, teacher training, construction projects like the science labs at Lutangilo, and the new diocese wide post-secondary scholarship program.
When my own congregation became involved with BKB around 2001, we were told that fewer than ten percent of Tanzanians were able to get a secondary school education. At that time, students with even a form four education could find jobs that would support a family.
All these years later, many more Tanzanian students are being educated and the growing economy requires a more highly skilled and trained workforce. In short, more Tanzanians need a college education today.
Last year, BKB awarded about $25,000 in post-secondary scholarships. This year, review boards will meet in August and October, and already we have received applications for over $30,000 in funding needs. Your generous contributions to BKB's post-secondary scholarship fund will support bright, hardworking students like the ones I met through review board interviews last fall
As one of the students said to me, "Thanks, I am very happy - more than you can imagine... Education to me is like light to my life. I really appreciate everything, and much more, your prayers. Please convey my appreciations to all."
Chair of the Iringa Committee