Corona group still helping boost education in Tanzania

16Apr 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Corona group still helping boost education in Tanzania

PENCILS and Dreams already has built classrooms and dormitories for schools in East Africa.

But the Corona-based non-profit group isn’t stopping its work.

It’s continuing to raise money and awareness for its latest education projects in that country and is hosting Saturday, April 14, fundraiser to further that mission.

The event, which is sold out, will feature Cindy Skarbek, board president of American Friends of the School of St. Jude in Arusha, Tanzania; and Alex Elifas, a graduate of the school.

After he graduated, Elifas won admission to five U.S. schools and now attends Stanford University. St. Jude is one of the projects supported by Pencils and Dreams.

Pencils and Dreams is the brainchild of Jane Moore, who created the organization in 2009.

That was a few years after she visited East Africa and was stunned by some of the local children she met.

When they encountered visitors, the youths begged for pencils, because they were desperate to go to school.

Moore, an educator who worked years for the Riverside County Office of Education, said there are only enough schools for 12 percent of children to attend a secondary institution in Tanzania. It is even more difficult for children to attend school in distant locations.

“Sometimes teachers don’t want to go to rural areas,” she said.

Moore supports the organization through donations and personal funding. She has also partnered with local schools and churches to organize fundraising events.

St. Jude targets children from economically-deprived families, Moore said, but the children often go on to to do great things. Students are required to donate one year of community service in return for their education.

Elifas is now studying bio-engineering at Stanford. Another St. Jude graduate figured out a way to turn plastic bags into roofing tiles and paving and now has a company that employs 55 people.

Riverside resident Georgia Renne, an original Pencils and Dreams member, is a long-time friend of Moore and said she was excited to support her friend’s dream.

Renne is proud of the fruits of her efforts and said the children they support send pictures and, sometimes, letters.

Renne, a former English teacher, was impressed with their writing skills. Volunteers for Pencils and Dreams are inspired by the children’s dedication to education, she said.

Many must walk miles to school and carry water with them. But education can be the factor that lifts them out of poverty and changes their lives, Renne said.

“We see how important it (education) is there,” she said.