Coming Together to Help Tuleeni: A look at Interact club’s annual fundraiser.

Laura Kirkendall, Staff Writer

“I was consistently and truly struck by [the orphans’] desire and gratitude for the chance to learn,” says Josh Kieser, former student at Portage Northern. After graduating from Northern, Kieser participated in a summer program where he had the opportunity to help the Tuleeni orphanage in Tanzania. Upon his return, Kieser came back to Portage Northern with hope to assist the children. At the time the orphanage housed around 20 children; Kieser calculated that if each student at Portage Northern donated $2, there would be enough money to send all the kids to school for a year. This year is the seventh year Portage Northern, with leadership from Interact club, has taken a week to raise money for the orphanage.

Mama Faraji, a teacher, founded the orphanage and was originally caring for only 16 orphans. When she saw the need for more help, as many kids’ parents were dying from HIV/AIDS, she decided to start the Tuleeni orphanage. Mama Faraji cares for more than 60 children now.

“One of the major monetary barriers the orphanage faces is the cost of sending all the children to school,” says Kieser. All the money raised during the fundraiser will be sent to support the childrens’ education. Each classroom will sponsor a child from the orphanage, ensuring that the students are able to receive an education. The children love school and learning, making the fundraiser an important aspect of their future. “If everybody just donated a little bit, we could help so many people,” says Sarah Grace Patton (12), one of the leaders for Interact club.

Financial support is not Portage Northern’s only service, however. Students also send notes to Mama Faraji and the children. “I love the connection that is so personal through Portage Northern and the orphanage,” says Bryan Hill, adviser for Interact club. The school often receives replies from Mama Faraji as well, keeping the connection between our school and the orphanage strong.

Whether students make a donation or take the time to write a note, the assistance is appreciated. “Tuleeni allows us to make a difference globally,” says Jessica Andrews (12), a leader for Interact club. Northern’s participation each year in the $2-gether for Tuleeni fundraiser is important to keep the orphans in school and promote a successful future. “My expectation is to raise enough money to make a positive impact on the lives of orphans in Tuleeni,” says Patton. Kieser’s experience with the orphans, and Portage Northern’s continued support, has helped to improve the lives of so many children. “We really have a family across the world that we help out every year,” says Hill.