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Review for Make A Difference Now, Boise, ID, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Our involvement with Make a Difference happened purely by chance. Please be patient as I tell our story … My husband and I traveled to Tanzania in August of 2013 to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and go on safari in order to cross a couple of items off our bucket list. We trained for months for our climb and digested every possible scrap of information we could find to help facilitate successfully reaching the summit. While I am pleased to report that we were successful in reaching Uhuru Peak and our safari was truly an amazing experience, what we didn't anticipate or prepare for was the life changing experience we encountered a few miles outside of Moshi at the Kilimanjaro Kids Care Orphanage.

We stumbled upon the orphanage via the Pack for a Purpose website. While I was checking out the Bristol Cottages website, the hotel where we stayed before and after our climb up Kili, I clicked on the Pack for a Purpose link and began to investigate what that organization was all about. I learned that PfaP was affiliated with Bristol Cottages, and that the hotel supported the Kilimanjaro Kids Care Orphanage. We found the current list of needs at the orphanage and then decided that this would be a great mission project for our church to become involved in. I prepared a flyer, and for a couple of Sundays before we left for Africa I did an announcement in front of the congregation. Donations began to pour in. We not only filled up one huge suitcase, but two! We were so excited! We had 102 pounds of donations making the trip to Africa with us!!

Since we arrived at the Kilimanjaro Airport on a Saturday evening and didn't actually start our trek up Kili until Monday morning, I inquired with Gloria Moshi, the owner of Kindoroko Tours (who we booked our trip through), if she could arrange for someone from Bristol Cottages to take us to the orphanage on Sunday so we could deliver our supplies in person. Gloria graciously volunteered to take us herself – she picked us up on Sunday afternoon and personally drove us out to the orphanage, stayed there with us for the afternoon, and returned us to Bristol Cottages! When our car pulled up at the orphanage, we were immediately greeted by the smiling faces of children spilling out the front door. We were hugged over and over and over again. And not just any hugs. These were the kind of hugs where the kids just kind of melted into your embrace. Yes, we were already fighting back tears and we hadn't even got through the front door!

All the kids gathered in one of the rooms where the seats were arranged in a circle around the edge of the room. Each beautiful child stood up and introduced themselves in English -- stating their name, how old they were and what they wanted to do when they grew up. Mark and I then introduced ourselves, and we were able to show the kids where we were from (Indianapolis, Indiana) on a map of the world that was painted on one of the walls.

We then began passing out the supplies we brought with us to the kids. We had soccer balls, tennis balls, backpacks, lots of shoes in all different sizes for both boys and girls, medicines, vitamins, personal care items, bath towels, solar calculators, pencils, pens, rulers, etc. Each child was so happy to receive something new, and lots of smiles and hugs were exchanged!

After everything was passed out, the kids wanted to know if we would play football - soccer to us in the U.S. We had to break in those new soccer balls, you know! We spent the next couple of hours playing with the kids in the yard in back of the orphanage. We kicked the soccer ball around for a little bit, but quickly figured out that we were out of our league! Those kids can definitely play soccer! Being from Indiana where basketball reigns supreme, Mark spotted the basketball goal and felt more adept with that sport. While Mark was shooting baskets with a few boys, a young boy named Peter wanted me to throw a soccer ball back and forth with him. Peter kept wanting to throw the ball faster and faster, and then we got two balls going back and forth at the same time. I think he likes to play goalie.

Towards the end of our visit, we all gathered together in a circle in the backyard and the kids sang some songs for us. One song involved lots of repetitive clapping and dance moves. We tried our best, but I think the kids were pretty amused at the Americans with no rhythm! LOL! After the songs, one amazing young man stepped forward and spoke on behalf of all the kids. He spoke in English -- very articulate for his age -- and thanked us for the supplies we brought and for spending time with them. Once again, we found ourselves fighting back tears as said goodbye and drove away.

A little over two weeks later we were back home in Indiana and couldn’t stop thinking of those beautiful children. So, I got on my computer and began to investigate the orphanage further. That is when I discovered the phenomenal work that Make a Difference Now is doing. I found the MAD website and read about Theresa Grant and the organization’s history. I shared it all with my husband, and what we read and learned further solidified our desire to help.

Through the amazing work of MAD, the children at the Kilimanjaro Kids Care Orphanage all have amazing spirit and hope. Their smiles are contagious. They are all good students and are working hard to make a difference not only in their own lives, but in the lives of other Tanzanians.

The local community surrounding the orphanage is benefiting from the ongoing support and assistance provided by MAD as well. In addition to supporting and educating the children at the orphanage, a library/technology center, cultural center, science lab, outdoor educational trips for the children, libraries at the schools that the children attend, and a sports program are just a few of MAD’s projects. All this is possible because of MAD and its philosophy of changing lives through education. The world needs more organizations like MAD. People have an inherent desire to help, and MAD offers many opportunities to do just that.

Many blessings to all who work to Make a Difference!

Pam Thacker

Role:  Donor