William Jessup students make global impact

By: Gabrielle Jackson, Special to The Placer Herald
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In many countries where poverty is widespread, the reality of living on the streets is imminent. The threat of becoming just another homeless statistic is rampant in Tanzania, where the unemployment rate is extremely high and families struggle to make ends meet. Unexpected help arrived just in time for one Tanzanian family of two college-age teens, named Victor and Imani, who were threatened with losing their home in impoverished Ujiji, the oldest town in western Tanzania. Students from William Jessup University learned about the family’s plight while on a mission trip earlier this summer to East Africa and felt a strong desire to reach out and make a difference in a country where the average family income is around $350 a year and infant mortality rate is about 7.4 percent. A group of six students, led by Daniel Gluck, William Jessup’s Campus Ministries Director, met the family in Ujiji and were later invited to their home for dinner. Over dinner conversation and a large meal, the students discovered that the family was literally days away from being evicted, threatened with the reality of trying to survive on the hostile Tanzanian streets. Their simple homestead wasn’t much; just a rough composite of mud and straw overlain with paint that peeled down the wall, exposing the earthen skeleton. But this was their home and it was now in jeopardy of being taken away because it was impossible for the family to come up with the 50,000 Tanzanian Schillings needed to pay the past six months’ rent. Although 50,000 Tanzanian Schillings is only the equivalent of $45 American dollars, the disadvantaged family simply had no way of raising the money. Huddling together and discussing the situation, the William Jessup group realized that for about $6 apiece they could save the family from eviction and an arduous existence. The group unanimously decided to pool their money and present the gift to the family’s father after the meal. “Tanzania, or more so the people of Tanzania, have opened my eyes to a hope and faith stronger than I have ever seen,” said Michelle Ross, a sophomore from Rocklin. “It brought me to tears to know that what we considered pocket change was a huge blessing in disguise to a large family in need.” Helping this family retain their residence is only one of the life changing experiences the William Jessup students experienced while serving in Tanzania. In addition to this encounter, the students also visited a local Bible college where they presented leadership principles in a lecture series. The group also hosted five separate “Kid’s Club” events where 60 to 100 Tanzanian kids participated each day in skits, crafts, and music-making facilitated by William Jessup undergrads. “These children are considered the forgotten members of society,” explained Gluck. “The ability to spend time and build relationships with them was truly impacting. Even just being able to have crayons and construction paper was an absolute thrill for them.” Service is an integral component of the education program at William Jessup. However, the six-person team that returned from South Africa chose to go above and beyond in their capacity to minister to those less fortunate. Tynisha Mims of Citrus Heights, a junior at William Jessup, best summarized the impression the trip made on the students, which included Melissa Sullivan, Rachel Williams, Josh Ribb and Luke Spray. “We are all one and need to have a burning desire to help one another by lending a hand, a shoulder, and an ear,” Mims said. “With that, there is no such thing as a stranger, but only brothers and sisters. I am bringing that back with me and choosing to live like a national.” - Gabrielle Jackson is a student at William Jessup University in Rocklin.