The Yusuph Project – Continued

School Scholarships for Yusuph’s Children

Help board member Rick continue his support for Yusuph, his African Kilimanjaro guide and friend. Rick and others have supported him for 15 years in various ways including college, two trips to the USA, and sending him groups to guide on tips to Africa.

Currently Yusuph is in need of financial support to continue the education of the four children in his family he cares for: Hemedi age 11, his first born; Hemedi age 15, an adopted son; Aziza age 6, his first born daughter; and Aziza age 16, his niece. Yusuph also hopes to help his cousin Hemed who needs a college education to support his family.

They go to a local school that teaches English. Learning English and doing well in school is about the only way someone in Tanzania, with over 50% unemployment, can hope to find jobs sufficient to provide for themselves in the African economy. Local jobs like teacher or policeman do not pay enough. It is necessary to find employment in tourism or some international business. This makes English skills critical.  Public schools are very crowded, with up to 100 kids per teacher.  It is important to have your kids go to a private school if you want them to succeed.

Yusuph‘s Kid’s Bios

Meet the Kids

Name: Hemed (younger)
Birthday: Feb 9, 2001
Relationship: Yusuph’s biological son
Sponsorship status: needs sponsors

Bio: Hemed is 12. He also likes sports, especially riding bicycles. English is his favorite subject.

Name: Aziza (younger)
Birthday: Sept 30, 2006
Relationship: Yusuph’s biological daughter
Sponsorship status: needs sponsors

Bio: Aziza is 7. She is doing very well in her current school even though there are 40 kids in her class. She is very smart and wants to be a doctor.

Name: Hemed the Guide/Porter
Relationship: Yusuph’s cousin
Sponsorship status: needs sponsors

Bio: Hemed is well known to many of the more recent Kilimanjaro climbers. He has been working as a guide and porter to earn money for college. Hemed is one of five children in his family and he wants to be able to help support his entire family. Since college is cheaper in Uganda, his goal is to attend Kampala University there and earn a Bachelor of Business Administration.  Student loans are not nearly as common or as easy to get in Africa as they are in North America. Hemed will need help with the cost of $1800 per year for tuition and housing.

Name: Aziza (older)
Birthday: Nov 6, 1995
Relationship: Yusuph’s niece
Sponsorship status: fully sponsored

Bio: Aziza is Yusuph’s niece. He took her in when his brother died. She is 18 and fell behind in her education because she lived in the hills for a long time where she didn’t have access to school. She plays netball at school now. She likes to cook and often does the family’s cooking.

Name: Hemed (older)
Birthday: July 7, 1997
Relationship: Yusuph’s adopted son
Sponsorship status: fully sponsored

Bio: Hemed is 16 and will soon be attending a boarding school in Moshi that will be a better fit for him. He is very active in sports- football, soccer, biking and marital arts. Geography is his favorite subject. He wants to be a pilot.

The Challenge

…and how you can help!

The challenge of supporting his family is increasing faster then he can find ways to make up the funds. As of Fall 2012, the economy in Africa is worse then ever. It is not possible for Yusuph to support his family with only seasonal guiding on the mountain. He has started a farm in the off-season but this only produces a little income.  Yusuph is known for having a heart for helping people. He adopted a son from an impoverished community, adopted his niece following his brother’s death, and is taking care of his ill mother.

How You Can Help
1) Help get work for Yusuph by connecting climbers to Rick.

2) What to go to Africa again or for your first time? Rick is working with Yusuph on building a business to offer cultural tours which would be a small, private mix of local culture, safari, and humanitarian projects such as working with orphanages and schools.  The goal is to provide Yusuph with his own sustainable business income.

3) Make a yearly commitment to supporting a scholarship for the children.  It can be a whole amount for one child or a smaller amount annually.  This is important to commit to renew this annually until the child is out of school.  One child is $800 school fees plus $75 in books and uniform fees. Mark donations as Yusuph’s Project – Scholarships.

The Yusuph Project


In 2001 upon descending with a group of 10 people from Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, I was talking with Yusuph, our guide from town. It was a very successful climb in many ways. It is hard to explain what life is like in many places in the world until you have been there. Yusuph was an honest, hardworking, sincere man with a son and a wife. He lived in a cement blockhouse without running water on the edge of the dusty town tucked into a quiet glade of green. He was fortunate, thrifty and wise to have been able to save the money to build his two-room house. For $60 we put his two assistants through English school for 3 months. (Later one ran to me when I was in town with a huge hug and declared how much that had changed his life and he would never forget me, but that is another story.) Yusuph wanted to attend a computer class. For another $60 he was signed up during the slow season. As the years have gone by the relationship between Yusuph and his friends that help us on the mountain has grown.

The story goes on with more visits to Kilimanjaro. Each time that same small question was asked. “How can I help you?” The answers got bigger as the relationship grew. One time the answer came back “I want to go to America, I need work”. I explained to Yusuph we could not give him work in America due to political reasons. Given the complexity of the world, and the fact Yusuph’s experience of travel was only to Dar Es Salaam, I could see the rational for careful immigration control was lost. When $50/week guiding is a good salary, the wealth of America seems limitless. I told Yusuph to let me know if he could get a visa. Well he did. That is also a long story resulting in calls to the embassy, Africa and a $2000 plane ticket we bought for Yusuph. He arrived in America from a dusty hot town in Africa. He had a 5th grade education. It was early winter here. An African lives on about $5/week for food. Here he was part of a culture where a cup of coffee can cost $5. He told me at one point, “Yes you have food, but you don’t have time to eat it.” He spoke to over 17 groups ranging from jails to Corporations. The largest group was over 380 people. He missed his family and friends and a saner pace of life. He was superb at bridging the gap between our cultures. And the gap was huge!

So, the last time on the mountain when I asked that little “How can I help you?” I was not too surprised to hear he wanted to go to College. He believed in Education. He had wanted to be a doctor but a guide on the mountain made more money more easily. Also when time came to continue school in 5th grade there was no money for the paper and pens needed in classes. With College he believed he could get a better job and provide for education for his son and soon to be daughter. College was a $6000 commitment on our part including one and one half years and two hundred dollars per month to support his family, as he would not be able to work.
In January 2007, Yusuph graduates. To get there over 40 people have contributed to his college and family fund. His schooling has touched his family and everyone else around him.

When we hire people in Africa, we commit to paying livable wages. The fierce competition for business has resulted in the people at the bottom suffering the most. While standing outside the gates before the trek, it is not uncommon to see 100 Africans waiting for a $25/week job and experience the guards beating them back with sticks because they want to be in line first for the job. After seeing such things it is hard to justify some of the financial decisions we make in our lives. For many who have made the trip to Africa it has provided a powerful time to reflect and to make positive choices. Many have considered “matters that matter” and chosen to act in whatever way they can.

As they say in the streets, “mambo.” You answer, “poa!”

We first met Yusuph almost 6 years ago. Since then he has guided all of our groups. He is a respected guide who is sought out by the National Park in Tanzania for information about the mountain and rescues. He has been selected by his peers as secretary to the Kilimanjaro Guides organization. Despite his reluctance to accept this position, the respect for his honesty and strength of character has guided him to this place.

He started out years ago on the mountain, as it was the only job in town. His careful planning and saving has allowed him to have a family, a house (just recently he was able to add water which means one outside tap thanks to the support of past clients). His natural intelligence has aided him in completing professional guides’ school with straight A’s.

Several years ago he asked to come to America. In a tedious, and difficult visa process, he was successful in a visit for two months. He spoke to over 17 groups from youth in prison to the most exclusive of country clubs about his life as a guide and the mountain. This highly unusual experience for a guide gives him exceptional insight into assisting your visit to Africa.

We admire his view of life and wisdom. We anticipate your experience will be beyond what you expect because of him.