In the Tanzanian village that Ndeenga Shamata (YES ’10, Fort Madison, IA) calls home, she noticed a rift. The residents didn’t feel like neighbors and community members, just people who happened to live near each other. To combat this, Ndeenga decided to host an open forum in her village called Pass It On. The name was inspired by the idea of passing along kindness, volunteerism and knowledge to one’s neighbor. Pass It On allowed residents to discuss their lives with one another and feel like friends.

Those in attendance spoke about growing the place they call home and even agreed to start a fund for their neighbors that are struggling financially. Following the event, the group vowed to continue to communicate and interact.

In addition to building the community on a residential level, Shamata decide to extend her ideas to the education system. Inspired by a recent interaction from former first lady Michelle Obama, Shamata presented to the students at St. Bernadete Nshupu on the importance of education, especially for girls. Shamata said,

“Maasai society does not believe in formal education for either gender, but as of now that they are forced to educate children. They prefer sending boys to school rather than girls in a notion that girls are for marriages and taking care of the family. They are not even given a chance to choose who they want to make that family with, most are born already have husband and they can not oppose that because of traditions and culture.If the society recognizes the role of each individual, either girl or boy, there won’t be any limitation to what one gender can do.”
During her time in the US, Shamata inherited the value of volunteerism. Prior to coming to America, she didn’t recognize the power that giving back to ones community has. She took this back to Tanzania with her and urged her friends and colleagues to volunteer as well.
“Everyone can be great, because anyone can serve. You do not have to have gone to college to volunteer. You do not need theories to prove, you only need a bit of kindness, a heart full of grace and a selfless soul full of love for others.”
If you are interested in learning more about our Tanzanian alumni and their projects, visit their website at


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