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Students from three countries collaborate to impact and inspire youth in Tanzania

September 1, 2010

Next spring, representatives from three countries across the globe will work side-by-side on an international endeavor that is not only history making, but also heartwarming.

Global Kilimanjaro BowlOn May 21, 2011, the Drake University football team will travel to Moshi, Tanzania, to play an all-star team from Mexico, the CONADEIP All-Stars, in what will be the first American football game ever held on the continent of Africa: the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl. The teams will also lead a youth sports clinic for the young people of Moshi.

In addition to these components, the student-athletes will spend three days completing several service-learning projects, including construction on the Kitaa Hope Orphanage in Moshi, Tanzania.

The North American athletes will join forces with IRIS’s alumni students who previously studied in the U.S. through the U.S. State Department’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program.

“We are thrilled to reconnect our YES alumni students to Iowa,” said Del Christensen, IRIS’s executive director. “They each learned so much about America and our culture during their stays in our state. Now, they will have a chance to play host to these visitors and teach them about Tanzania.”

YES7 Tanzania

Tanzanian YES students, '09-10

Since 2007, IRIS has coordinated the exchange of more than 70 high school students from Tanzania through the YES Program. These youths spend a full academic-year living with Iowa host families, attending Iowa schools and enriching Iowa communities. While in Iowa, they also learn about community volunteerism, develop leadership skills and represent their country as a youth ambassador.

Upon returning home, the students are encouraged to use the knowledge and skills gained in the U.S. to positively impact their own communities through individual and team projects. Alumni also are able to share their experience with others and help instill the spirit of service in their peers, the effects of which ripple across the globe.

Projects to impact Tanzanian orphans, inspire youth

Following the exhibition football game, the teams will complete several volunteer projects in cooperation with the YES alumni and local youth in Moshi. One confirmed project will be to help construct the new Kitaa Hope Orphanage.

Children of Kitaa Hope Home in Moshi

Some of the children at Kitaa Hope Orphanage

The orphanage was founded in 2006 and currently houses 13 orphans between the ages of 4 and 12 who have been orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS.

“Our goal is to provide a safe, secure, loving home for the children in our care,” says the Kitaa Hope Orphanage website, “The kind of home most of us take for granted.”

Several YES alumni students already volunteer at the orphanage by delivering supplies, teaching basic lessons and simply spending time with the children, so connecting the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl with construction of the new orphanage was a clear choice for IRIS.

“The players and coaches of these two football teams will leave a lasting impression on the young people of Moshi,” said Christensen. “By volunteering side-by-side with Tanzanian youth, they will demonstrate that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can be part of a positive change in their community.”

Currently located in a rented home in Moshi, the orphanage’s small space limits its ability to serve the community to the fullest. In January 2009, two acres of land were purchased in the hopes of building a larger and more suitable orphanage that would house up to 20 children. The North American athletes will help with Phase II of construction, which includes establishing the girls’ dormitory.

Iowans’ support needed to make project a reality

The trip will take place May 17-June 1. Before returning home, the teams will take on one final task: climbing the 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.

Each football team will fundraise to cover its logistical expenses of the trip. In addition, IRIS is launching a campaign to raise $20,000 by May 2011 in order to cover the costs associated with the volunteer projects, including building materials and supplies.

“The good nature and generosity of Iowans has allowed IRIS to promote peace and international understanding through programs like this in the past,” said Christensen. “And we call on Iowans once again to demonstrate their commitment to global citizenship by supporting us in this endeavor.”

We need your support to make this project a reality. Consider making a contribution today!

IRIS is a nonprofit, non-religious organization founded in 1993 and located in Ames, Iowa. Our mission is to promote international understanding, development and peace by connecting Iowans to communities worldwide. IRIS has brought more than 1,100 students, journalists, business people, educators and government leaders to Iowa from 20 countries in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia.

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