Stan Taylor - B.S., EE ’85
In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro
It may sound like a made-for-TV movie, but this real-life story is about a major AIDS epidemic; a growing number of orphans; a popular tourist destination in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro; and a Notre Dame alum who spearheaded a charitable foundation based on all of these elements. It began in 2006 when Stan Taylor (B.S., EE ’85) spent part of his summer in Africa. “The family and I spent a couple of weeks doing the ‘tourist thing,’” he says. “Then I joined a group of 20 other volunteers from Libertyville, Ill., and spent a week with Father Augustine Kawishe and orphans from Mailisita, Tanzania, trying to identify if there were meaningful ways we could help.”
The team, which included a pediatrician, an attorney, a nurse, and a construction specialist, determined that the orphans were healthy enough to be educated, the area was politically and economically stable enough to support development, and the tourism trade brought enough money into the area to sustain a school/guesthouse combination. As a result of this first trip Taylor created a 501(c)3 charitable organization to build a financially self-sustaining educational center that could feed and educate the orphans in the village of Mailisita.
Fr. Kawishe and many local residents had already been working for some time to feed and educate the children who had been fortunate enough to be taken in by extended family. Most of those families would not have been able to provide the children with a home were it not for Fr. Kawishe’s assistance. The two-room school he was running served kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children between the ages of five and seven. This age group is particularly important because, in nearby Moshi and Mailisita, an early education (including learning to speak English) is vital to getting into the overcrowded primary school system and very competitive secondary schools. An early education gives these children a distinctive advantage as they grow and compete for coveted spots in the schools and local job market.
The idea of building a school/guesthouse was logical because there were no major hotel chains operating in the area. Accommodations for safari and climbing expeditions were usually provided in the form of private bed and breakfast facilities featuring 10 to 20 rooms. Following the foundation’s plan, a 14-room facility could generate enough income to support up to 300 primary school students on an ongoing basis.
The Tanzanian government gave its final approval for the school to open in November 2009, teachers and a headmistress were hired in December 2009, and 44 children began class on January 11, 2010.
In addition, the project architect and overall director of construction confirmed that the guesthouse remains on schedule. For more information, visit http://www.mailisita.org.