Safari Scholars is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to quality educational opportunities in Africa. It began when its founders were planning a trip to Tanzania and were looking for a way they could make a difference in one of the poorest countries in the world.
While many aid organizations exist, it is often hard to know if the money you give makes a difference. How much of what is given ends up reaching the people it is intended to help? How much is spent on salaries and administrative costs? Are you giving to a cause that will actually change people's lives? Are the aid recipients motivated? Is a Westerner running the program in country or is it being managed by locals who best understand the culture and what will truly work?
After much research, Susan Jefferson, Safari Scholars founder, decided that the best way to make a difference was to provide funds for education. It has been proven time and again that a quality education is one of the quickest paths to self-sufficiency. Many Tanzanians desperately want an education but are unable to pay for it.
In Tanzania, the government funds primary school (seven years) but does not fund secondary school (six years). Scholarships are few, which means that many highly motivated and capable students have no way to continue their education past the age of 14. Additionally, schools are often under-funded and lack some of the basic necessities such as textbooks and laboratory equipment.
Suumu Secondary School, Manio, Tanzania
Jefferson enlisted the help of her travel companions, Betty Brady, a public relations expert, and Virginia Brady, a middle school teacher in Pittsburgh. During their first trip in the summer of 2007, they visited a variety of local schools to get a sense of what was needed.
Suumu Secondary School
When they visited Suumu Secondary School in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, they knew they had found the place to begin. The school, a joint community-government secondary school, was started by three villages in 2005. The school receives minimal government funding; most financial support comes from the community. The headmaster, teaching staff, and students are all highly motivated and doing the best they can with the resources they have, but there is still much to be done.
While in Tanzania, the founders made arrangements with the headmaster, the chairman of the school board, and a local bank to stay informed of the school's needs and to ensure the funds reach the school as quickly as possible.
Susan Jefferson has 18 years of marketing and business experience. A veteran of corporate America (Procter & Gamble and the Kellogg Company), she also was the vice president of marketing for an online travel company and had her own consulting business for a number of years. Jefferson has a B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and, more recently, a doctorate in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Betty Brady is a retired public relations and communications expert from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, a position she held for over 15 years. She has also worked as a news reporter and was editor-in-chief of a regional daily newspaper for several years. Brady has a B.A. from the University of New Orleans.
Virginia Brady taught elementary and middle school in urban Philadelphia and the Chicago area for many years, helping underprivileged children succeed. Now living in Pittsburgh she teaches middle school in a suburban school district. Brady has a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a Master's in Science of Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.