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This fundraiser ended on 09/30/11

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Support Umra Orphanage, of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania by making donations.

Umra is Muslim community based, privately run orphanage situated in the Heart of Dar Es Salaam, Eastern Africa’s economic powerhouse along with Nairobi. The city is a lively metropolis home to an estimated 4 million people. Its economic development, while steady, is blighted by a poor public education system, pollution, corruption of authorities and unstable infrastructure.
Umra is an incredible story of philanthropy and dedication. The orphanage was founded in 1999 by Rhama Juma Kishumba and her husband, who despite their modest means, agreed to care for the children of friends and family who fell victim to illness or fiscal destitution. By 2007 they had enlarged the size of their family to15 children, and were able to secure living space and regular donations for food and water. That year they were officially registered as an orphanage. Since then, their reputation as an honest and caring institution has attracted 40 new children. A board of trustees has been established to oversee the use of money and to make sure the children are benefiting. Their family now stands at 65 children, 32 boys and 33 girls, 4 “House-Mamas”, a full time secretary (responsible for managing donation money) and the original founding couple, who have 2 of their own children living amongst the others.
In 2009, Umra decided it could benefit from an affiliation with volunteers from abroad. For the past two years, a German organization called VIA. E.V has been sending German volunteers to help support the orphanage. The decision has reaped much reward. The volunteers have passionately dedicated themselves to improving conditions at the orphanage. Their efforts and the money they have raised have been central to the children’s education, improved living conditions, a healthier diet and access to health care (although much work still needs to be done to better address health care needs of these children). These improvements have empowered the institution to set higher aspirations, facilitating several new exciting projects. And that’s where you come in!
Below is a list of institutional development projects the orphanage has undertaken to improve the lives of its children. All of the projects require fiscal support, so any donation you can make would be so very much appreciated.
• A new home: All 65 children are at the moment packed into two small buildings. They sleep either on mats on the ground, or in a single bed (a minimum of three children per bed). The building is located in the center of Dar Es Salaam, meaning conditions are cramped, children have to be supervised at all times because of dangerous roads nearby, and the pollution is damaging to their health. Additionally, the price of rent has increased dramatically over the past few years and Umra is struggling to make its payments.

A year ago, through donation money raised by a volunteer, Umra was able to buy a spacious plot
of land just outside of Dar Es Salaam. The house the orphanage is trying to build, will be big enough to accommodate future growth, it will have a spacious backyard which will act as a farm and playground for the kids and will still be close to school facilities. The farm will provide the orphanage its own food supply and will make them less reliant on donation money. Right now, this is their highest priority project. So please donate generously!

• Health care: Few children have shoes, and every time an orphan steps outside, they run the risk of cutting open their feet. Malaria is also a danger, and one orphan was unfortunately born with AIDS. The orphanage does not have enough money to send their children to the hospital on a regular basis. Donation money would enable the orphanage to train employees in basic first aid and would allow them to buy medical supplies. Additionally, donations would facilitate visits to the physician and the dentist.

• Education: Umra wants the best education possible for its kids, which means taking them out of the public school system and placing them in private schools. Also, if the children are to have university prospects, then there will need to be money coming in for that as well. Any money you donate will most definitely contribute to their education, either through acquiring school supply, sending a kid to private school or an older teenager to university. If you are willing, Umra is looking for donors to sponsor a child for the duration of his or her education. One month of private school costs approximately 50 dollars. The child you choose to sponsor would help maintain the relationship you form together through the sending of letters (using the English he has learnt at school) and regular pictures of his development. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me directly (
My stay in the orphanage has been truly incredible. A week ago, I walked through their doors not knowing what to expect. I was greeted outside their modest building by at least ten toddlers, who swarmed me with hugs and cries of “Bebe! Bebe!” which I later learned meant, carry me! Carry me! Within minutes I felt a part of their family.
There are so many stories of unbridled generosity or strength I could tell you about in my interactions with the kids, just in the last week. But the one I want to share with you captures not only the magic of the individuals that make up the orphanage but also the community.
A few nights ago, the orphanage had organized a goodbye ceremony for a volunteer who had worked with them since last September. After a feast, which I’m sure put further strain on already low food supplies, the entire orphanage piled into a small room. 6-month olds were sitting on the laps of 5-year olds. Older boys had younger boys on their shoulders and I myself had at least three children sitting on my lap. The processions began with an impressively delivered speech by Big Mama, the founding mother of the orphanage. Her powerful voice filled the room, engendering love but also firm authority. She was without a doubt the boss! Then, within seconds of her speech, the room spontaneously but in a very coordinated fashion, exploded into song- the volunteer’s name featuring in every line. This was followed by another speech, delivered by the secretary. I don’t have any idea what he was saying but people were rolling over each other laughing. It was so contagious; soon I was laughing with them, wiping away tears. Then right before the goodbyes, two of the oldest boys got to their feet and broke out into rap. They had written the lyrics themselves for the occasion. Finally, everyone quietly got to their feet and formed a line in front of the volunteer and commenced hugging her one by one. And, everyone, everyone, everyone was crying.
It occurred to me that night, that despite the obvious difficulties these children had been subjected to, their unshakable smiles and deep love for one another stand testimony to the goodness that Umra represents. The institution was founded on generosity, and has preserved its principles exceptionally well as the orphanage has grown to fruition. I feel truly honored to have been able to spend some time with them.
I’d just like to finish with one last story. Yesterday I asked one of the orphans named Tapua whether she felt like she has a family. She responded “Ndiyo! Nina familia kubwa Sana!” Yes! A very big family!
Please donate. Any amount of money will help, big or small.
What your money can achieve:
10$- A new bag or uniform for school OR a pair of shoes OR set of school books and school supplies, SOME basic medical supplies.
25$- 3 months of nursery school for a toddler, 2 lessons on basic first aid for a “House Mama”.
50$- will send 20 kids for check up at the doctor or dentist or will send a kid to private school for month.
100$- will enable 20 kids medical treatment.
250$-Would allow the first aid kit to be fully stocked on basic medical supplies.
500$-Would allow the orphanage to a have a fully stocked medicine cabinet (complete with malaria treatment and antibiotics).
1500$- Would send an older orphan to University for a year.
1000$ or more- Would contribute greatly to the building of the new house which requires approx. 70,000$ for completion.
You can donate either via credit card or debit at or you can make out a check to Laura Wedeen (address: 7467 Woodlawn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115). It’s important to note that Giveforward will absorb 7% of the total amount of donation money spent via credit card or debit. All donations will be transferred from my mother’s account to mine, so that I can extract them in Dar Es Salaam and give the money to the orphanage in cash. If donations continue after I leave the country, money will be transferred to another volunteer at the orphanage. Please remember to forward this message on to any one you believe would want to get involved.
On behalf of the Umra Orphanage, I thank you for any contributions,
Sincerely Jeremy Frey-Wedeen,

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