Our Chocolate University students received the star treatment this week; we hosted a film crew for something special! Stay tuned for more details… coming soon!
Leaving now for Tanzania!
So I’m sleeping/laying in my chair at Heathrow and my Quick Fit app woke me up and said “have time for a quick workout?” So this is half of our group on the last exercise - side plank.
Arrived Nairobi, Kenya! Everyone doing great. We board for Dar in a few minutes. Still have about another 12 hrs to final destination.
On our way. Just 3 more hours.
We are here!
Our Chocolate University students in class with Mawaya students.
Great day at Mwaya school with our Chocolate University students.
Lots of tears and smiles at last night debriefing led by Daudi Msseemmaa. We met outside with the sound waves of Lake Nyasa behind us.
Our Chocolate University trip to Tanzania is a complicated endeavor. Dr. Tom Prater and Kimberley Prater have accompanied us on every trip since we started this program in 2009. He not only keeps us on schedule during the trip but is deeply involved before we leave teaching our students about philanthropy and how to raise money for good causes. He is a behind the scenes operator and that’s how he likes it. He has spent a lifetime giving to our community as an eye surgeon, school board president, and overall unsung hero quietly raising money for those in need. He was the first person who contacted me in 2009 to ask about helping me raise money to take students on this trip of a lifetime. In the early days I wondered if it could be done he reassured me and told me not to worry; he was right. I am grateful to Dr. Tom Prater who makes things happen for the good in this world! He is pictured here with the Mababu Primary School Headmaster and Kellen Msseemmaa in the “turnover” of money raised by our students (with Dr. Tom’s help) so the school can build two classrooms.
Donita Cox is an SPS / International Baccalaureate psychology teacher at Central High School. She is on our Chocolate University Advisory Board and has been part of the high school Tanzania program since its inception. She has traveled with us since the beginning. She serves where ever needed but the best thing she does is listen to the students - many of whom she knows personally. She is a sounding board who cares about the students we take — always wanting them to have the richest experience possible. I am thankful for her commitment to our cause!
Chocolate University Tanzania would not be possible but for the hard work of Drury University Professor John Taylor over the past 5 years. He started with me in 2009 when this was just a dream. He single-handedly developed the curriculum for our students while they spend an intensive week on campus learning about small business, profit sharing, open book management, and all things Tanzania. He is also responsible for managing the massive amount of paperwork for the Drury side of the partnership. This year he and his wife -Meredith Taylor - helped lead our group on this journey of a lifetime. Thanks JT!!
As Caron Askinosie so aptly stated yesterday: “We spent the last 10 days eating, singing, dancing, teaching and learning the true meaning of courage and joy among the poorest of the poor in Tanzania.” The Chocolate University experience would not have been possible without Daudi Msseemmaa and Kellen Msseemmaa who host us in Tanzania and help me put together the in country schedule and budget. The real thing they do though is open their hearts to our students. I am forever indebted to them both.
Groundbreaking for the new classrooms at Mababu Primary School.
Analyzing cocoa beans at the Mababu Primary School.
Even though we share profits and do a full chocolate tasting for farmers on every origin trip, it never fails to feel as special and exciting as the first time. The farmers LOVE the chocolate tasting (remember, most of them have never tasted chocolate before we began working with them) but most remain shocked each year when we follow through on our promise and bring their cash profit share. Translators were not needed as shouts of “Asante sana!” rang out from both groups underneath the mango tree where we held our meeting.
We were treated to a performance from the Empowered Girls club we sponsor at Mwaya. Today, we witnessed the graduation of 13 young women who are so poised and articulate. We are so proud and inspired.
Mababu farmer group with our Chocolate University students.
I don’t want to leave this place. The scene of the beach party last night we hosted for Mababu farmers.
My kind of church. Music is glorious.