We are held back not by the love we didn’t receive in the past,
but by the love we are not extending in the present.
I snapped this photograph above in October while driving through Mkuru, Maasailand, in Northern Tanzania. I include it here because to me it illustrates two of the most compelling stories of Africa: One that is told most often by the mainstream media, which is of the devastation caused by extreme poverty, ignorance and lack; and the other—the driving force behind Unite—which is of the “stupendous potential*” that can be found within youth everywhere, even in the unlikeliest of places and the most challenging of circumstances. Their potential is our opportunity.
Over the years while working to unlock and unleash the “stupendous potentials” of orphans and at-risk youth across Tanzania, I have witnessed time and time again how love, presence, hope and compassion can forever change the trajectory of lives. From “Baby Maria” who arrived at the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center as a severely malnourished and deformed two year old unable to walk or talk and who is now a smiling, healthy three-year old, running around chatting in Swahili and English, ready and eager to start Baby Class at Heaven School to Godfrey Daniel Saitoti who survived as a homeless street boy until he was 10 years old when Sister Crispina Mnate adopted him and enrolled him in school for the first time ever and who is now studying to be a surgeon at the Kampala International University in Uganda... the stories go on and on.
The youth we serve and those with whom we work know that with every privilege comes great responsibility and for their achievements all glory goes to God. Their big dreams are many and range from building an online e-library through which students in the remotest of villages can access books and lessons (Douglas) and working in medicine to care for the sick and destitute (Angela, Jackson & Godfrey) to pursuing careers in accounting and tax to encourage and enforce “ethical” business (Hilda, Lucy & Marystella) and opening “An African Knowledge Village” as a center of excellence for learning and knowledge sharing (Raymond). These youth have the commitment, determination, work ethic, resilience and faith—the potential—necessary for success. Our work is to free them from the chains of extreme poverty by meeting their basic human needs and providing them access to quality healthcare, education, strategic support programs and a global network. Most recently, we partnered with Future Stars Academy to roll out a physical education and sports program for the children of Heaven and lauched a Mentor Program to help our University Scholars prepare for their lives after graduation. As they grow and evolve, so do we.
As always, I am sincerely grateful to each of you for your interest in and support of Unite, and for your big dreams in service to humanity. The future depends on us. May we be fearless in extending our love!
With blessings and prayers for peace,
Anne Wells, Founder & Director, Unite The World With Africa Foundation * The New African Commentary