GOD’S WORK; EDUCATIONAL ASPIRATIONS
From the onset of STEMM, the education of Tanzanian children has been our highest priority. The initial goal of our organization was to afford education to the brightest and neediest Tanzanian children. In a country where less than 8% of children graduate from high school, a gift of an education is truly life changing. During our first year, we were able to send four children to high school and, as is often the case when doing God’s work, our goals and aspirations were far too humble. Now, in our sixteenth year, we are financially sponsoring over 500 high school students annually! Additionally, we have expanded our program to tertiary level education which includes university training, trade school, and teacher colleges.
Native Tanzanian Lazaro Nyalandu’s dream of sponsoring Tanzanian children through education was actually the inspiration behind the development of STEMM. Lazaro was born in dire poverty in North Central Tanzania. He grew up in a small two room mud hut with twelve of his brothers and sisters. The family had barely enough food to eat let alone the finances to afford advanced education. Lazaro knew that the only way he would be able to make a difference for his family and his country was to obtain an education.
Through sheer determination and hard work, Lazaro dedicated himself to finding a means to put himself through school. Through the efforts of several philanthropic individuals, he was able to attend high school level studies (known as secondary school in Tanzania). While in high school, Lazaro achieved academic success by receiving the highest grades on the annual national exams and won Tanzanian student of the year award. As a benefit of the award, Lazaro was given the opportunity to attend Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.
As a young college student in the United States, Lazaro was already an incredible visionary. He had a dream to found an organization that would do for others what the Tanzanian government had done for him: Provide exceptional children with the means to obtain an education. He called this organization Project 50, as he one day dreamed to send 50 Tanzanian children to high school. It was during this time that Lazaro met Dr. Meyer and helped him to plan his first mission trip to Tanzania in the summer of 1996. While in Tanzania, Lazaro approached the team to inquire about helping him in his endeavor. It was his enthusiasm and motivation for this project that planted the seed to form the STEMM organization.
Today, our students consistently perform in the top 10-20% of all children throughout the country on their national exams. As a result, we need continual financial expansion to support these children to a higher level of proficiency through university and trade school level education. The full impact of our commitment to and relationship with these children can only truly be expressed in their own words as they thank us for the opportunity God has given them through STEMM, so we invite you to visit the web section on testimonials.
Phase One of the construction has been completed and consists of an Administrative Building (Tanzania Orphanage Director, Assistant Educational Director, Office and First Aid Room); Admission Building (Head Mama and office of Admissions); and 2 children’s homes that will accommodate a total of 16 – 20 kids. We are currently in the process of Phase II with construction of our Ministry Support Center well underway. This support center will be a place where teams can stay while visiting the SCV. Phase II will also include four more children’s homes.
HOW TO HELP
Secondary school costs approximately $200 – $300 per year. With the average annual income being approximately $750 and the average family size being six children, this limits the number of children who have access to higher education. These children have demonstrated a great desire to learn and better their lives – they simply need the opportunity. That is where STEMM comes in. STEMM is trying to make their dream a reality.
For less than $300 annually, each of us has the opportunity to profoundly transform lives, one student at a time. In our mission statement we speak of transforming the country of Tanzania, and while that seems like a tremendously grandiose goal, it is obvious that over several generations we will have a substantial progression on the socioeconomic landscape of the country through our educational support. We are rapidly approaching the day when the educational proficiency and, subsequently, the financial means of our Tanzanian students will allow them to “give back” through their financial support of STEMM students. It was our original intent and continued dream that STEMM will be a model of a joint partnership between Tanzanians and Americans, whereby all aspects of support of the STEMM ministry are equally shared. We welcome you to experience first hand the gratification and joy inherent in changing children’s lives through the invaluable gift of education.