Happy International Women’s Day…Help Us Help a Future Woman Leader!

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. In honor of this day, I would like to say THANK YOU to the incredible women who have inspired me, helped me along the way, brought us all up from infants to (hopefully) mature adults, and paved the way for the success of all women.

As the next generation of women come forward in this world, break barriers, and again pave the way for others to follow, I would like to introduce you all to a very special young woman, Gifte, one of our incredible sponsorship recipients.

Gifte is a 13-year-old young lady from the village of Tengeru, Tanzania. She is the third child of her family, which consists of an older sister, Upendo — now a teacher; an older brother, Freddie — now in secondary school; and a younger sister, Carol, who is just starting primary school.

I met Gifte during my first trip to Tanzania. She was the neighbor of Mama Gladness (our volunteer “mother”) and the “helper” around our volunteer house. Gifte would come to the house after school to have tea, practice her English, and generally teach us all what it was really like to grow up in Tanzania. When I met Gifte, she was not quite 10 years old. Now, a flowering teenager, Gifte has far exceeded any aspirations I may have had for her. For the three years that followed my initial meeting with this amazing child, Gifte continued to welcome volunteers from around the world to the house, she took advantage of the opportunity to speak a second language with the visiting volunteers, and this past summer, she became my computer student and learned to type, surf, and edit faster than I thought could even be possible. Near the end of my last visit to Tanzania, Gifte presented me a request: Would it be possible to help her obtain a good education?

I struggled with this request for several weeks before coming to a resolution. My focus with Jenga Jumuiya was to be “the building of schools”…but then I thought, why not also “the building of leaders”? Not only is Gifte a talented, intelligent, thoughtful, beautiful girl, she had the drive, the knowledge, the confidence, and the bravery to ask me for this request. I truly believe that education is the key to helping those less fortunate help themselves out of poverty. So, I decided this, too, could be one of the focuses of Jenga Jumuiya.

The school Gifte chose to attend is one of the top private (non-government funded) secondary schools in the area. Although Gifte knew she had done well on her Standard 7 exams (the tests that allow one to continue on to secondary school), she also knew she would need to pass a separate, more rigorous exam for the school of her choice. Think of finishing middle school and having to apply to high school as if it were college…that is what this amazing young girl was up against.

In true Gifte fashion, she aced the second exam, charmed the admissions counselor, and won her place in secondary school. For these accomplishments, I am incredibly proud.

Now two months into her formal secondary education, Gifte is doing incredibly well. She has recently needed to get eyeglasses to alleviate the strain on her eyes from reading so much. She is doing very well in her classes, and from all accounts she is happy, healthy, and making great strides in her studies.

Her second term starts very soon, and we are now looking for funds to help continue her education. If you have thought about sponsoring a child’s education in another country, ever felt the need to better someone else’s life, or just have a few extra dollars from your tax return, we could really use the help today for Gifte.

It’s really easy to donate. You can send a check to Jenga Jumuiya at:

Jenga Jumuiya
c/o Matt Henneman
711 Louisana Street, Suite 1800
Houston, TX 70022

Or you can click the Donate Now! link at the top of the page.

Every amount helps — nothing is too small and nothing too big!

On behalf of Gifte and the rest of our future generation of leaders worldwide, I thank and wish you all a very happy International Women’s Day.

All the best,

Heidi Henneman
Jenga Jumuiya — Building Community Through School Building
email: HeidiH@JengaJumuiya.org
tel: +1.646.373.9084


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