Life Changes

It probably isn’t a good idea to rent a house without a viewing. All I had to go on were the out-of-focus pictures Mujibu sent me on WhatsApp. But I was feeling reckless and felt that without taking a risk, I would never launch our new project.

We aim to officially welcome our first students in the New Year. Since there is quite a bit of renovation work needed at the property, Mujibu has left an old student of his, Sadath, who recently graduated from university, in charge of the property. Sadath needed a home whilst he waited in Moshi for his university to print his final certificate (in Africa, everything takes as long as it needs to). And we needed a lodger to secure the property. It was a win-win situation.

From my side, I’ve been wrestling with how to manage a full-time job in the UK and play my role in supporting Mujibu with the setup of the new organisation. So whilst I haven’t told anyone yet, I’ve decided to quit my job and relocate to Tanzania.

It is a big decision for me. Not only do I despise hot weather and become irritable when I get a mosquito bite (just thinking about it makes me itch!), but it means that I will no longer be able to cover the initial costs myself. With no job, I will have to take a vow of poverty and try and survive off my paltry savings. But realistically, there is no way I can create a successful project that meets our ambition, without being physically present.

Mujibu has started looking for students to sponsor and live in our hostel. I haven’t set any specific criteria, but he knows me well enough to understand what kind of young people I’m interested in supporting. I’m not looking for young people who will line up smartly in their new school uniform and do exactly what their told. We do not want to select only those students that show ‘promise’ or ‘potential’.

I want to support young people that are perceived to be ‘failing’ or ‘no-hopers’. They’re the ones that need our help most. They’re the ones whose future we must secure to reduce poverty and create an ambitious generation of young Tanzanians. I want to support young people that will challenge us. Make our lives difficult. Maybe even intolerable. But if we do our job well, we’ll have achieved something great.

It may be easier to fundraise for cute little kids, but it’s my job to make potential donors aware of what really matters.

Mohammed S Mamdani