Sometimes we think our lives are miserable and we don’t have enough. No matter how bad it is, there is always someone who has it worse. The biggest lesson I had is that we always should be grateful for whatever situation we have. Coming from a poor environment, I grew up without basic resources, sitting on the floor in class instead of desks, skipping meals because there weren’t any to eat or anything else I went through. I thought I had the worst of the worst until I learned my lesson.
As an alumnus of the University of Utah, I was exposed to Western culture and customs. Now I can say I know what a bathroom or school should look like, and I can certainly say it is far away from what I have experienced previously. Imagine having a school that has no toilets at all or has toilets that are just a big hole dug under dirt – you would ask how they live. Imagine witnessing kids falling in these holes, assumed to be toilets with all the sewage in them, and using them the next day since there is no other option. Imagine using leaves as toilet paper since water is not an option. Imagine walking to school for 10 kilometers, and still needing to get there on time, working on the farm before classes, attending class, walking back home, and again going to the farm as a daily chore after a tiring day of school and walking. You can imagine how they sleep, but the same circle will start over again in the morning. Looking at their school uniform, you might consider them naked because what they wear does not fit into the category of clothing and shoes are just the same as walking barefoot.
Imagine students who don’t have a classroom and must sit under a tree as a classroom. Or a classroom with no desk, which means all students are sitting on the floor while studying. Or a classroom with no floor, meaning there is only dirt dust down and still they have to sit on the dirt. Or a classroom without a roof, imagine when it rains or during sunny days.
These examples might sound like a joke, but they are real; at least thousands of kids that we have visited are literally living in these scenarios, and hundreds of schools are in these scenarios.
I met many disabled students, not just one or two, who didn’t get any special care. They would crouch with their knees back and forth to school, and sit on the same dirt floor while all they needed was just a wheelchair. Since the community and parents have deeper issues to focus on, the disabled kids would not be the priority. You can imagine the pain and the suffering, but it gets worse when it rains.
I met school girls who have never seen or heard of sanitary pads. You can imagine how they survive through menstruation and how uncomfortable it is, but believe me, that is not a top priority issue on their agenda. They have bigger issues, like what they would have for lunch or if they will be able to finish school and not be forced to be married since the parents cannot afford to keep them anymore. I have met kids whose dream is just to get shoes or just a school uniform since they have been using the same for the last five years. It obviously does not fit them anymore, but what other options are there?
There are many worse scenarios that I have encountered that are hard for anyone to imagine, but since these people don’t have any option, they just have to face the situation and move on with their lives like nothing has happened.
From what I have experienced, and all these terrible living conditions that I have witnessed, I realized I had so many reasons to be grateful for my situations that sometimes I complain about. I felt that I had an obligation to do something, even though I didn’t have much. Maybe I can’t solve all the issues at once, but at least I can do something, no matter how small it could be.
I started with little things that I could, like giving shoes, clothing, stationary, food, water sources and little community projects. My eyes and mind were still thinking about those toilets and classrooms under trees but there were not much I could do by myself. As I kept going, I realized more was needed than what I could provide myself. I realized I needed more muscle, hands, and resources, and that is when I had to come up with the idea for Grateful Circle. It is nonprofit organization that aims to help to remind people that they should be grateful for whatever they have but also helping these abandoned communities in villages in Tanzania.
I would like to extend my invitation to those who would like to support this cause. Our organization focuses on improving educational environment in villages in Tanzania. We work with schools and students, improving their needs to give best experience possible and more room to focus on their education. We focus on students with tough environments, either physical disorder, mental, or financial. We provide needs that would help make their education journey less miserable, like clothing, stationaries, books, and in some cases, food. We focus in schools in villages that with poor environments, including toilets, classroom, water, and furniture. As a single organization we can reach our hands to a certain distance, but there are more needs than what we can do now. We invite departments, organizations, and individuals who are touched to reach out to help and join forces. There are several ways someone can get involved, either coming physically to volunteer, sharing ideas, donating items, sponsoring a child, or donating money for the course as well. We believe by serving others, we are serving ourselves as well.
We are not just helping the kids in Tanzania. Our mission is to also help kids and even adults in developed countries to appreciate what they are having instead of complaining. We created a program in which parents can bring their kids who are given special assignments that will help them experience what other kids go through, but also give them sense of being grateful, at the same time they experience personal growth and a sense of being responsible at a young age.
We also encourage adults to volunteer and have this amazing experience that can change their sense of appreciation and an opportunity to serve others
For those who prefer to opt for a vacation after the service, we also have a “safari treaty program.” It could go on safari to any of many national parks in Tanzania, including but not limited to Serengeti and Ngorongoro, visiting beautiful beach of Zanzibar or climbing Kilimanjaro and other many more options that you had no idea existed. Let’s join the forces and make the world a better place.