Brothers Sam, Reid and Tate Vaughan, all students at local Menlo Park schools, embarked on the service project of a lifetime this past January. They traveled with their parents, Laura and Brannan Vaughan, to Moshi, Tanzania for six months in order to learn more about the culture, research local needs, and identify a service project that the family could become involved for the duration of their stay and beyond.
Day-to-day life for the Vaughan family couldn't be more different than the one they left here. While learning Swahili, they are coming to appreciate basic comforts like not having to contend with daily fluctuation in electricity and water (e.g. they have gotten used to using candles and bucket showers).
Despite the differences, the family quickly fell in love with the area and the people they have met there. Figuring out how to give back to the community they have adopted as their second home was the hard part; poverty is so omnipresent that trying to make a difference feels like trying to boil the ocean. So, according to Laura, the family decided to let the boys follow their hearts in taking responsibility for a very specific project to work on, with Laura and Brannan providing the technical website and nonprofit organizational support. The end result is "a bridge, a pipe, and a lunch."
Fourth grader Tate Vaughan has found a bridge that he wants to save from collapse. According to the family's website documenting their journey, "This bridge is crucial for locals to cross the Weruweru River, which swells during the rainy season from March-May. Tate's goal is to raise another $3200 of $5000 for the bridge re-construction. Without this bridge, many people in the neighboring village of Kimashuku will be at risk because of the danger associated with swimming across to get supplies."
Reid Vaughan, a fifth grader, has chosen to raise funds to install a water pipe at Mlima Public Elementary School. He was surprised and concerned when he learned that the students there must come to school each day (sometimes walking up to 2 miles to get there) carrying a bucket of water because there is no plumbing or running water. This water is the only water the students have to drink and wash with during the day. To build a mile long water pipe to the school will cost $2500. Reid is determined to raise the money to accomplish that.
Their oldest son, Sam, has chosen to support a lunch program for Mlima School. When Sam and his younger brother, Reid visited the school, Sam was shocked to learn that the students there had nothing to eat during the long school day. Working with local contacts, he learned that when schools there are able to serve lunch, school attendance and student performance improve. He is therefore determined to raise $1500 a year for the foreseeable future in order to allow the school to buy enough corn, beans, salt and oil for the students to eat lunch everyday at school throughout the academic year.
Making It Happen
To fundraise, each of the boys have written their classes mates and friends at home and posted video presentations and descriptions of their projects proposals online. They have also embarked on selling locally made goods (bracelets, toys, purses, etc.) back home to raise money. Finally, their parents are in the process of starting a 501(c)(3) in California called "Lalafofofo.org" (Swahili for "sleep peacefully") to help manage the financials and have set up crowd-funding websites for all three projects.
Anyone interested in learning more about their projects or who would like to contribute to funding "a bridge, a pipe or a lunch" can find more information here:
Family Blog At: siliconvalleytotanzania.com
Donate To The Kimashuku Bridge Project
Donate To The Mlima School Water Pipe
Donate To The Mlima School Lunch Program