The death of my father and a sweaty, signed football jersey
In the spring of 2006, my father died in Tanzania. I was 41 years old at the time. As a result, I thought a lot about my second home and my own childhood from the perspective of an adult. I found my father’s doctoral thesis when I was cleaning out his house and that was when I became aware for the first time of what he had actually accomplished back then as a 20-year-old man from a village near Bukoba.
Rhetorically, i begun to question myself as to why that he came to study in Munich? How were my grandparents in Tanzania able to afford it? “Education” was the thread running through my research about Tanzania, the Kagera region and my family.
Surprisingly, I found out that there were only 12 Tanzanians with a university degree back then and my father was privileged to have studied in Germany and then to return to his country. That my grandfather, who was a farmer was committed to invest in education of his children using the yields from the sales of harvested crops.
Children in Tanzania – An affair of the heart
I started reviewing the statistics on HIV/AIDS infections and orphans in Tanzania from a different perspective and I saw people, not numbers! I had memories of girls who were sent to fetch water with canisters every day who didn’t have time to study and pupils who are still taught today using textbooks from the 50s. Then I realized how lucky I had been in my formative years in Germany to have had an environment conducive of education. Obviously, children in Tanzania didn’t have the opportunities I had and some might not have the chance to successfully be the masters of their own destinies in the future especially girls. Most girls in Tanzania are greatly disadvantaged by societal structures that tend to shape their future and this was what motivated my passion to make a difference.
About 60% of new HIV/AIDS infections occur in individuals between 15 and 24 years of age. The existing sensitization campaigns, programmes and projects on curbing HIV transmission, achieving higher education, promoting quality health and gender equality in Tanzania do not appear to truly reach children and young people.
A sweaty football jersey signed by Willy Sagnol compelled me to take action. A friend handed it me happily after a Champions League match with the words “Do something with this for your people!” This was during my time as the manager of sports sponsorship at HypoVereinsbank and that was when I was struck to really do something for Tanzania that will positively impact the lives of the people.