Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
For a really detailed explanation, read the Who We Are. In short, I went to Africa to summit Kilimanjaro, had a life-altering experience spending a week with the porters, and feel compelled to do something to help them. In speaking with them it’s clear that their children are top priority, and that due to their meager earnings it is nearly impossible for most of them to afford sending their children to private school.
This isn’t one individual school the children are going to. First, the porters come from multiple communities, some being hours apart from each other. Just with our original Fab Five families, they come from villages in and around both Moshi and Tanzania, which are two hours apart. So we’re dealing with multiple schools.
Public schools teach only in Swahili. And only two countries in Africa speak Swahili – Tanzania and Kenya. In order to open these children up to maximum opportunity, it’s critical they’re taught in English. Secondarily, the meals being provided at private school offer a game-changing condition for these children; studies have shown that proper nutrition is paramount to a child being able to learn and retain.
The first two students needed $500 each for the private school they were able to gain admission to. That is one year and covers their tuition, books, uniforms, and two meals while at school during the day. Because of its proximity, they can both take transportation in the morning and at night, so it didn’t have to be a boarding situation. Depending on the distance the children are to the school they’re able to gain admission to, especially with secondary students they may end up being boarded during the week.
$600 was chosen to ensure we can cover the wire transfer fees, small amounts lost in the conversion from U.S. dollar to Tanzanian Schilling, and any slight fluctuation in the cost.
Those whose parents desire to send them to Catholic private school, which can run closer to $1,200, will need to seek the remaining funding elsewhere right now as our goal is to provide the same amount per child as we’re starting up.
Two children were sponsored in time to start school on January 8, 2020. The first, Moreen, was able to start her secondary education off on the right foot, and her younger sister, Careen, was able to make the shift while still in primary school.
I intentionally selected the “Fab Five” – the workers in our crew that I developed the most trusting relationships with – so that I could maintain very close conversation with them. Respicius Baitwa, our head guide, has agreed to be my primary point of contact in ongoing communications with all of the porters. He is well respected, having worked on the mountain for 22 years and having summited 500 times. I saw it firsthand while I was there, and communications with the others have affirmed my belief.
There’s a critical point for these children; if they don’t make the transition to private school by the time they enter their secondary education (U.S. equivalent of high school), it becomes exponentially more difficult for them to catch up in terms of learning and being taught in English. Our short-term focus right now is to get the eldest children sponsored and moved as soon as possible, and then start working to get the younger kids moved over.
All children must take the equivalent of an entrance exam to test where they currently are academically. With passing results from that exam, they can then apply to be accepted into one of the private schools.
There is no cost to take the test to determine if the child is qualified to move into private school.
We’re very sensitive to making sure these kids have a realistic hope for their immediate futures. Consider this - with just the Fab Five from our crew, there are 16 children. We’ve set a lofty goal to get most of them sponsored yet this year. There were 29 porters just on our climb, so possibly as many as 87 children or more between them. Would you like to be a child who takes the test, passes, and then is told we’re not sure how soon we’ll be able to move you - it could be years. That’s unfair to the children.
Part of the bigger vision is to someday build a school, and that would provide a very tangible way to have these students come back later on and get involved. Short of that, we are considering the possibility of each of these students, once they have graduated and are earning money, to consider making whatever level of contribution they can to help a future child be able to transition to better schooling. We’re early in this process and open to ideas!