Datus (V4Y), Chyna, Sunny, me (SAP), Violet and Vedastus (V4Y)

Monkeying around with finances — and more!

Mambo! Habari za asubuhi. (Hello! Good morning.)

We are wrapping up our first week here in Arusha, Tanzania. It already feels like a month has passed in this first week alone. My team assigned to work with Vision for Youth is composed of myself, Sunny from India and Chyna from China. The three of us are an awesome team that complement each other very well. Vision 4 Youth (V4Y) is the organization that we are completely consumed with for what is now three weeks left — and its work is truly amazing.

We met one young man who has been helped, Ignus. He grew up in poverty but was able to complete secondary school (high school). We learned through a translator about how V4Y helped him when he had a business idea: to make items by hand for his community such as bracelets, shoes and scarves, and sell them to earn money. He presented his idea to V4Y and came in second place in a competition! He used his prize winnings to buy the raw materials and start his business. That was nine months ago, and today he is making a profit, enough to begin to support himself and provide some funds for his little sister to attend school. He dreams to go to advanced school and make his business big enough to employ other young people in the community.

This is the patio outside our little office. Can you see the Vervet monkey in the background?

We also met Pyaral, a community arts leader who heads up an informal group of men that come together to dance, sing and create art. In addition to doing what they love, the leaders of Pyaral’s group get trained by V4Y and then in turn train their group on topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship and on health topics like drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. They also mentor, provide for and send to school one or two boys from the street. Pyaral stated that V4Y is the only organization in his community that is able to make the change that they do. He was so passionate about how much V4Y has helped him, and his joy and wishes for V4Y to succeed and grow stronger were evident.

We’ve been doing research, conducting interviews and spending hours in Q&A with V4Y’s visionary leader, Violet, and one of her directors, Vedastus. We’re so appreciative of how patient they are with our many (many) questions around the organization’s structure and strategy, human resources, marketing, communications and financial sustainability. Our goal is to synthesize everything we’ve absorbed and do as much for them as we can, hopefully leaving with them a solid plan to implement and guidance for anything we’re not able to get to.

It’s a big task, but we’re feeling good! I’m also excited for my first safari in Lake Manyara and a visit to Ngorongoro crater, which begins on Saturday — wish me luck!

Tutaonana baadaye! (See you later!)

Entry to Vision for Youth

Originally published by Clay Thompson on July 12, 2017. For more by Clay, visit his publication here.