Faraja Board Member Jean Ellis Shares Her

Trip of a Lifetime

A trip for a lifetime. In February, our family embarked on a trip to Tanzania. From the start, we knew this trip together was going to be very special.

Our visit began with a strenuous day hike to one of the base camps of Mount Kilimanjaro where large trekking groups begin their quest to the summit.

A visit to the Faraja School began with a Sunday church service where the students delighted us with joyous singing and dancing.

We followed the “Bibi and Babu Way” back to the school grounds, named in honor of Joann and Don Tolmie, founders of the Faraja School. My parents, John and Eleanor Milton, were lifelong friends of the Tolmies, so it was meaningful for me to walk the path named in their honor.

During the day, Faraja School Principal Tumsifu Muneo provided a thorough tour of the facilities, including the classrooms, dorms, and skills development areas. The students were both outgoing and quiet, all very interested in meeting us and showing off their school home.

The afternoon was spent playing and talking with the students using the crafts and sports equipment brought with us. After evening songs and prayers, we said goodbye as the students waved hundreds of glow sticks!! On behalf of my family, including my husband, Tom, and adult children Thomas, David, and Elizabeth, we want to thank Tumsifu and the other school leaders for welcoming us into the Faraja family and teaching us about the life of a student at Faraja.

Our tour of the Faraja Forward community programs started with Building a Caring Community (BCC). We were welcomed into the central office of Director Kaaya to meet the care team leaders and visited two day care centers to witness how the BCC program is providing necessary services for children of all ages. Financial grants from Faraja Forward enhance the centers with equipment, such as indoor trampolines and custom wheelchairs.

Our trip to Bijani center with Faraja Forward partner Building a Caring Community

I will never forget the three family visits later that day. Tumsifu translated each parent’s story, so we could hear first-hand about the struggles of raising a child with a physical disability. We traveled to meet the parents in their own homes, which were very primitive and located in remote, rural Tanzania, and hoped to strengthen their bond with the school.

At the end of the afternoon, we were welcomed by the Director of the Selian Lutheran Hospital in Arusha to meet the leadership team and tour the clinic and ancillary facilities. We witnessed how the Selian Hospital program, with funds provided by Faraja Forward, provides necessary orthopedic surgical services for children and to hear about the hospital’s critical community outreach programs.

The remainder of our trip was spent on a safari to the Tarangire Game Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti. We covered miles of barren countryside as well as spectacular dense forests. The herds of zebras, giraffes, and elephants were as exciting to see as the lions, cheetahs, and leopards. The week was topped off by the great wildebeest migration!

We fell in love with a beautiful country, made new friends affiliated with the Faraja School, and look forward to future visits.

To see more of the Ellis Family photos, click here