To Return remains committed to our students during the COVID-19 outbreak. We currently have 16 students ranging from elementary school through university receiving scholarships to attend private schools in Tanzania. Because our organization is small and our supporters are committed, we have been able to support each student with personalized support in recent months.
In March 2020, as schools moved online in the US, so too were they in Tanzania. Most of our students attend boarding schools and thus the first order of business was to get them safely home. School buses and public transport were out. Our director of operations, Joel Siao, personally picked up each student across 11 different schools and returned students to their homes. Along the way, he shared with them reminders about proper handwashing.
April and May were busy months ensuring our students had everything they needed to continue their studies. First and foremost, this meant food and provisions for their homes. All of our scholarship recipients are the children of porters on Kilimanjaro. With tourism shut down, all of the parents were out of work. We coordinated internet access when needed and private tutoring to help those students with upcoming national exams stay on track. Joel even started an evening running group with some of the students who lived near each other.
Come June, it was time to turn things back around — schools in Tanzania have re-opened. Joel coordinated the safe return of our students to their respective schools along with newly needed supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.
We appreciate your support over the years! Normally, we'd been organizing our bi-annual fundraiser — the Mountain Social — as we speak. We're placing that event on hold until it's safe to gather in larger groups. In the meantime, we're launching an online fundraising campaign to ensure we can continue to meet student needs in the months to come.
We've set our sights on raising $14,977 this summer! This is equivalent to every foot of elevation of Mt. Meru (14,977′), Tanzania's second-highest mountain.