Following some PM's asking about the school that I spent some time visiting on my recent trip to Tanzania, I have written up some information about the project and its founder in case it's of any interest to future visitors.
The Voice School Trust (TVST) is a new school in the Usa River area (Arusha region). It was founded in early 2013 by Daniel (I will keep his surname private), who was previously a director at another local school.
In my (limited) experience of Tanzanian schools, I found that most schools were fee-paying, state or charity-run. Daniel’s ambition was to set up a school that could sustainably be run as a business but that could be used for the good of the wider community. It’s a tough ask. Specifically, Daniel is passionate about opportunities for women in Tanzania (he studied gender studies in the UK) as well as about the protection and integration of albinos into Tanzanian society. For those that are unaware of the problems and danger faced by albinos in Tanzanian society (as well as in other countries around Africa), a simple Google search reveals a lot.
Currently, there are only 4 schools known to accept albino students in Tanzania. One of those (where Daniel used to be a director) is struggling and may be facing closure in the not too distant future. Another is TVST – currently 4 of the 60 students there are albinos paid for by Daniel personally.
Daniel started from modest beginnings and was late to go to school. His achievements blow my mind and his vision and desire to do good humble me. He has built a team of compassionate, bright and motivated individuals, wholly committed to the cause. With limited resources, Daniel has moved the female students into his own home (he has a small separate building next to his main house) until he can afford to build dormitories. He has links with a local orphanage, from which two students will be joining in the new year. I think we could all learn something from his efforts to do his part to build a society in which no one is marginalised, everyone has opportunities regardless of background and where people are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Before I first visited Tanzania, I desperately wanted to find a good cause to support. The problem that I came across time and again was that it was impossible to directly trace what was happening to my money; where it was going, who was benefitting from it. Was money even the best thing to be contributing? Since meeting Daniel, I’m confident that I’ve found as good a cause as anyone could hope to find to support. As I settle back into my everyday life, a bit of my mind and a lot of my heart remains with Daniel, his wife and three young girls. With a career in finance, I am well-placed to assess whether this project is likely to succeed or not. I spent a lot of time on this trip going through line by line with Daniel the relevant numbers for the running of the school as well as the investment required over a long period of time to make his dream a reality. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s possible.
I am helping TVST in every way that I can. If anyone would like more information about the school or would like to visit, please feel free to contact me.