My name is Nancy Nashilu Mtei. I was born in July 1984 as one of eight children. My father is a retired teacher, and my mother is a farmer. I was born and raised in the Kilimanjaro region (Kikelelwa village). I am married and we are blessed with three children - two boys and one girl, which we raise in the city of Arusha.
I started my diploma education course in the year 2005 and completed in 2008 at Arusha university. I was working as a teacher for 11 years in different schools before I got into voluntary teaching. My motivation behind quitting a paid teaching job and exchanging it for voluntary teaching began after seeing what most children are going through in my region. Sadly, malnutrition, forced marriages, a lack of sanitary pads (which leads to many girls dropping out of school), the long distance to walk to school and also the poverty that surrounds many communities, are all too common in the villages of Tanzania. Many families in the villages need the older children to take care of the younger siblings; boys will tend to the herds while the parents are trying to earn money on local markets. The lack of education causes a continuous circle of poverty for these families over many generations. Additionally, in Tanzania, children need uniforms to attend school and most schools charge school fees, which many families cannot afford.
Thus, I decided to exchange my monetary compensation against the compensation of giving a helping hand, giving hope and putting smiles on the children’s faces, which is much more than money can buy. Since then, I follow my heart and the ambition to support poor children and orphaned children to receive education for free, empower young women as they go through puberty and fight for human rights.
In January 2019 I founded my first own school, the Sunshine Nursery School, in the outskirts of Arusha. It was a small and unused building owned by the local church, and was in a rather bad state. While I was enrolling children in the area to join the school, I was visiting their homes and came to realise that many families needed more help. This was when I also started community work like supporting with mattresses, buying food and asking donators, friends and well-wishers for clothes for the families. I started to build a network mostly via Facebook to find supporters who could help me with my ambitions. My vision is to make sure children get education for free and have a bright future, women become self-reliant, to see the human rights being practiced and my biggest dream is to bring positive changes to the community and reach more needy families.
Since mid-2021, I’ve been working with StepAfrica (www.step-africa.com) and the Austrian NGO Gemeinsam für Kinder der Welt (www.gemeinsamfuerkinder.org). The StepAfrica volunteers help me frequently with the financing through donations or their helping hand (please also see my Success Stories section). Gemeinsam für Kinder der Welt financed one of my schools, The School of Hope.
Two of my most outstanding experiences have been
i) when I was able to open two newly built schools in January 2022 in the villages close to Arusha. One was financed by StepAfrica and two of their volunteers, that founded the NGO Ndoto Tanzania (www.ndototanzania.com), the other one by Gemeinsam für Kinder der Welt. I am so grateful that those NGOs helped me in my vision of free education.
ii) The other very special moment for me was when I saw the happy faces of my students while a German friend of mine, some volunteers from StepAfrica and me were able to feed the children of all three schools in November 2021. To every child, we provided a large variety of cooked warm food as well as food bags to take home (please see my Success Stories section for details).
But frustrating moments also belong to my daily work. I see children coming to school with empty stomachs and sometimes I do not have enough donations left to help them. I see children wearing the same clothes every day. I see children without any shoes, even in wintertime, which also gets below 10 degrees in Tanzania. I see children who do not have any access to clean water. This powerlessness is both my biggest enemy and my biggest motivator.
In my view, things could change for the better if needy children were provided with food to take to their homes at least twice or three times per month. Additionally, Tanzania could change to a better place for children to grow up if education would be provided for free to all children. Regular meals in the schools would be an additional motivator for the families to send their children to school.
Supporting the communities and children in the area is quite time-consuming. This kind of work does not know weekends. When I am not working for the community and its children, I enjoy quality time with my family and simply staying at home. My favorite place is Moita village in the Arusha region.