Path Of Hope: The Story Behind The Smile

The funds raised through the Lahash #ShareTheLove campaign will help support over 450 students and 23 higher education scholars during the coming year, including Emmanuel who is pictured above! This photo was taken at the high school Emmanuel currently attends, and his journey to make it this far in his education has included lots of ups and downs. Saggiah Wright met Emmanuel years ago when he worked at Path Of Hope in northern Tanzania. Here he shares the story behind this young man’s proud smile… 

The Story Behind The Smile

by Saggiah Wright, Lahash Partnership Development Coordinator

My wife Enrica and I first met Emmanuel when he was a young primary school boy. Emmanuel lived in Mwamalili village, and was in the Lahash Sponsorship Program. He was a great boy but a range of factors hindered his schooling process. There were very few school options in his village and it was a long distance from home to school. His family was living in poverty, lacking adequate food at home. The village as a whole had generally high illiteracy levels, and the children in most families were needed at home to help sustain the households through cattle tending and farm preparation.

Emmanuel became truant and at some point he dropped out of school completely. Premature drop-out cases were very common in Mwamalili and other remote Tanzanian villages. But here at Path Of Hope ministry, we made a decision not to give up on Emmanuel. We worked with Lahash to come up with a new plan for him, and enrolled him for a short mechanical course in Shinyanga town, away from the village. We prayed for him, encouraged him, and mentored him. We tried our very best to help him understand the importance of education in his future life.

Through God’s grace, Emmanuel was ready to go back to school after the mechanical course. However, there was yet another hurdle to tackle before he could be accepted back into traditional school. The Tanzanian education authorities require that students who have dropped out take a special school re-orientation course for one year, followed by exams. Depending on exam performance, the student may be readmitted into the regular education system, or be rejected. Emmanuel enrolled in the one-year course, and we saw God’s hand in action. He completed his exams and passed well! He was finally readmitted to Class Seven at Milimani Primary School.

Enrica and I left Path Of Hope in May of 2017, and have since joined the Lahash East Africa staff. We now live in Kenya, so we lost touch a bit with Emmanuel and the other kids we knew from Mwamalili village. However, I had the privilege of leading a Lahash team on a visit to Path Of Hope in October 2019. It was my first time to revisit this ministry that had been so significant to me. One day, as the team was visiting some students at a local secondary school, guess what? Emmanuel was one of the students we visited.

My heart was thrilled with joy to see how he has grown over time. Most importantly, looking at his face, I could envision a possibility of a bright future for this brilliant young man. Against all odds, he has persisted and is now pursuing his secondary school education.

Enrica and I are very privileged to have worked directly on the grassroots level with the vulnerable children at Path Of Hope, and now we are with Lahash at the East Africa office. From an insider view, I confidently attest that Emmanuel’s story is a reflection of many stories of children whose lives are transformed through the work that Lahash does in East Africa. Like Emmanuel, most vulnerable children in East Africa are trapped in hard circumstances and are surrounded by mists of uncertainties. Lahash, through grassroots partnership with local ministries like Path Of Hope, comes in to break the chains of spiritual, physical, and intellectual deprivation.

Thank you all for your generous support of this vital ministry. You may never meet the many children whose lives are changed through your gifts, but now at least in the case of Emmanuel, you know the story behind the smile.

Join our #ShareTheLove fundraiser to help support and educate vulnerable kids all across East Africa!