This letter came to me from Jennifer Siegler, an Oglethorpe University alum and adjunct professor of Art History. She and her husband Aaron lived with Babu Meyasi in the house of their friend, Dr. Lairumbe Korduni, in Tanzania. Aaron was working on a HIV/AIDS behavioral study for his Ph.D. and Babu at age 27 was finishing high school. This is Babu’s story.
Babu Meyasi is a born student. As a boy he was always in the top of his class, but as he advanced in his studies, his father increasingly opposed them. Middle and high school cost significantly more than primary grades in Tanzania, and his father wanted Babu at home to tend the cattle. The Maasai are nomadic cattle herders, and many tribespeople fear education will separate their children from the land and their traditional ways.
Tending the cattle was a full-time job for Babu – he began missing school and was no longer in the top of his class. But he continued to study and pass until, with two years left to finish his high school degree, his father insisted Babu stop and tend cattle for a year, promising him he could finish school afterwards. The year came and went, and his father refused to give Babu any money or allow him to continue with school.
So Babu left home and worked four more years tending cattle, ingeniously investing in chickens, goats and cows (he’s a natural businessman), and somehow managing to save $2500 – a massive amount of money in Tanzania. He decided to invest that money in his own education, went back to school, and at the age of 27, triumphantly graduated from high school and passed his exams.
This year, Babu was accepted to Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies for a certificate program in accounting but he’s exhausted all his savings. We met Babu while we were all living together with Dr. Lairumbe Korduni, (Babu is considered part of the Korduni family). Aaron and I are both grad students, so we don’t have a lot to contribute, and Babu is far too humble to ever ask for assistance, but this is a person of such personal warmth and promise, I am trying to raise funds from friends and family to help him succeed.
Babu is diligent in his studies, speaks excellent English, and has a booming laugh, a brilliant sense of humor and a deep kindness. All the funds I’m raising go to Dr. Korduni who disperses the money directly to the school for tuition ($700/year). Babu has worked so long and hard to get this education, it’s really a privilege to help him complete it.
Sincerely, Jennifer Siegler
Well, lemme see. I could spend $100 buying Lulu a few more pairs of flip-flops… or fill up my gas tank three times…or help this young man with the beautiful smile who has spent TEN YEARS dedicated to finishing high school get a college education and contribute to the future of Tanzania.
This story totally makes my day! I sent Jennifer $100 in January, and today, Babu is enrolled in Moshi College and hard at work on his accounting degree– but he’s still struggling to make ends meet. In fact, when Jennifer was complaining about overeating once, he said, mystified, “I’ve never been full once in my whole life.”
If you’d like to help Babu, too, write me via the Contacts button above, and I’ll happily send you all the info.
Keep thinking of Babu’s comment, “I’ve never been full once in my whole life.” Wow.
Dear Betty – I want to help Babu but the link to your newsletter has no “contacts” button. Maybe a link to Jennifer’s email address? Readers may want to know about two (among many) new Tanzanian businesses trying to improve the lot of those who live on less than $4/day income. These start-ups, in partnership with Tanzanians are lauching, and it’s inspiring! Check out two at…
http://www.anzatechnologies.com (Drew is looking for an engineer for the team, actually)
http://www.globalcyclesolutions.com (Jodie just won an Echoing Green fellowship), and our blog http://www.younginventors2.com. that aims to hook up inventors in East Africa, Asia and Americas with resources to to grow businesses to meet affordable needs of the poor. Direct Qs about getting involved to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go Babu and many more! Maybe he’ll get a job with Drew! The leading salesman for Jodie is Maasai.
I’d like to help Babu.