First in a series of tributes to some of the amazing people I’ve met on my Red Thread journey.
Many people are very comfortable with the status quo. Especially when we’re busy raising families, it’s hard to look beyond our everyday responsibilities and embrace broader challenges. But that’s exactly what Alison Fraser chose to do, creating life-changing impact for a group of children and young women in rural Tanzania, a world away from her home in Cambridge, Ontario.
A full-time environmental toxicologist and mother of three young daughters, Alison doesn’t have a lot of spare time on her hands. But for the past few years she’s built a project called Mom2Mom Africa (http://www.mom2momafrica.ca/) that’s grown from an annual book and school supplies drive into a community fundraising project that’s been paying for the education of 11 children and 4 young women in Tanzania. Most of the money is raised through an annual event she holds in her backyard! This year’s event was held last weekend, featuring lots of live music and an impressive silent auction. Based on the success of this year’s fundraiser, she’s adding three children and one young woman to the project.
One of the things that makes Alison’s project work so well is her relationship with Robert Chekwaze, a friend and professional ecotourism guide in Tanzania who acts as Alison’s primary liaison, identifying children in need and helping ensure that tuition fees are paid, and that the students have what they need to be successful. In addition to tuition fees, students also receive money for uniforms, supplies and school meals. It’s shocking, at least to me, how little it costs to fund a child’s education in Tanzania, just a few hundred dollars per year.
Mom2Mom Africa is not a formal registered charity, it’s a project created by a smart, empathetic Mom with a vision. Alison is scrupulous about financial oversight, and sends 100% of the money she raises directly to the students. She describes the project as richly rewarding, “heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.” Her dedication is an inspiration to me and to many others, and I’m honoured to support her in her quest to change the world for the better.
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