Education is the key to the future
Felix was very clear – the only way to eliminate poverty is education. Education will help his community, and country, to find a way out of poverty and towards a more promising future. And the good news, tourism can help achieve this too.
I was introduced to Felix by Icon Adventures’, an adventure and trekking holiday specialist based in Brisbane. The owners of Icon Adventures are very pro-active in supporting local charities, schools and communities, and assisting with educational needs in the communities they visit.
In Tanzania, their Kilimanjaro treks include a visit to the School of St Jude, a school founded by Gemma Sisia (an Australian), where tour participants experience first-hand the incredibly rewarding results achieved from assisting Tanzanian children obtain an education – who otherwise would not have the chance to gain an education at all. Support and educational items are donated to the school on a regular basis.
The school also offers local employment opportunities. I spoke with Felix Mollel, who started work as a bus driver at the school in 2005, on his recent Australian visit – the first time he has left his home country.
Felix is married, has two daughters, and is from the Maasai tribe in Northern Tanzania. He was determined to get a job and improve his education so he could support his family. He has now taught himself English and computer skills, and is the Visitor Coordinator at St Jude’s. When questioned about what is important to him and his country’s future, his quick response was, “education is the most important thing, it will get us out of poverty. The children who attend St Jude’s have the potential to do whatever we want – education will help us. I want to be part of the changes in my community.”
For children like Felix, going to school is a privilege. His beaming smile and enthusiasm are contagious. I asked him what was the most amazing thing he’d seen in Australia so far, and his face lit up immediately “you have cows here too! I thought only the Maasai had cows.”
In the Maasai region, the worth of a person is measured in the number of cows they own, then the number of children they have, he informed me.
Helping local communities in very meaningful ways is a priority for Icon Adventures. And meeting people like Felix along the way makes the whole adventure even more special.
Icon Adventures offer treks to Tanzania, including climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.
Words: Melanie Grevis-James
Images courtesy © Icon Adventures and School of St Jude
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