Thursday, March 29, 2012


It's crazy to me that they have NO idea that they are my world. They are my everything. They are the number one reason I smile and work hard every day. I do it all for them. I can't wait to show they how much they matter and how they changed my life. 

I want these words on the walls of the new orphanage and in the kids rooms so that they never ever ever forget how important they are to me and to this world. 

"You is kind, You is smart, You is important"

"You are my everything" 

"I love you to the moon and stars and back and so much more"

"Dream it. Wish it. Achieve it" 

"You can be anything that you want to be"

"Anything is possible if you have the courage to pursue it"

"You matter in this world. Don't ever forget that" 

I miss you kids immensely... see you in 65 days. 

all my love and more, 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


finally got the FOX news video clip to upload on this page :) 
Tuleeni Orphans, here's to you....

Love, Neema

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'll Love You For Always. Missing You Now More Than Ever

I cannot wait to see your beautiful smiles in 68 days. 
I promise you I will always come back to you. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meet the Tuleeni Orphans

Here are the beautiful faces and smiles of the Tuleeni Orphans. 
(only 56 of them are photographed and listed below)

As I compiled these photos and began writing the name of each child under his or her picture, the words of the song "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts echoed in my head. I want the best and so much more for these children. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. See the lyrics to "My Wish" below.

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah this, is my wish.

My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too, Yeah this, is my wish.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Sun. The Moon. And The Stars.

If I ever feel lonely during the day or at night, I am able to find peace laying in the sun or under the stars looking at the moon. This summer, me and the orphans were outside playing and the sun was shining bright and was so so beautiful... I remember the kids asking me if America looked anything like Africa. I told them that the two places were very different because they were so far away from each other. They asked how far. I told them 8000 miles. One of the kids asked me how I will remember them when I am that far away... And I told them this

"whenever you feel lonely or miss me or wonder if I am missing you, look at the sun or at the moon.... The sun that lights up your world is the same sun that lights mine 8000 miles away. And the stars and the moon are also the same in Africa and in America... So whenever you feel alone, just look up at the sun, the stars and the moon and think of me... That's where I'll always be.. Until I return back here to you. And I promise you that even if I leave for a while, I will always come back... Always"

Ever since then, I have found such comfort in nature and especially in the sun, the stars, and the moon because I feel like that Is the one place the children and I can share even though we are on opposite sides of the world. I am looking at the moon now and I can't help but smile.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


a lot of people have been asking about t-shirts, what they look like, and where they can get one! The shirts are $13 and pay to feed the orphanage for a day!  here is what they look like

this is the back of the shirt

this is the front of the shirt 

the tshirts are Grey and they are unisex tshirt style fitting.

Asante Sana! (Thank you very much)

pendo daima,


JAMBO!!! Today has been an amazing day! Megan Mullaly, who is a videographer who I met over xmas in Tanzania, called me today while she was at the orphanage and let allll the children pass the phone around and say hi to me! Hearing their amazing little voices say "Hi Neema! I Miss you! Do you remember me! Come back!"--- if only they knew that I literally am counting down the days until I see them again--- 88 days.... getting closer!! It was so amazing to hear from them and they send their thanks to everyone in america who is working hard to build them a new home and to help make their dreams come true!!!  

pendo daima, (Love always,)

Sunday, March 4, 2012



George on the tractor

Jonas laying bricks

Baracka helping to clear the land

Neema and James getting the land ready

Dominique and the other boys 

Little beautiful hellen

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Day It All Began

“I am the only unique me that will ever be. I have the power to make a difference in this world.”
These words were written on a wooden plaque that my parents bought me when I was a child. For years, it hung on the wall in my room right next to my bed. It was the last thing I saw before I went to bed every night, and it was the first thing I saw when I woke up each morning. I have wanted to change the world since I was five years old. I am a fortunate woman who has been given an incredible life filled with education, opportunity, support and unconditional love from the most wonderful family anyone could ask for. Most people who come from a background similar to mine don’t take the time to notice the world and the people outside of private schools, nice neighborhoods and materialistic items—but this isn't the case with me. I am a 20-year-old woman who truly wants nothing more than to make sure that no one has to go through life feeling unwanted, worthless or unimportant. My head and my heart are filled with dreams and visions of the future—more than anyone could ever imagine. And I plan to make each one of them come true. I am going to change the world. 
I have dedicated my life to helping those who are less fortunate than I am, and for the first time I have stumbled upon a situation I cannot tackle on my own. Many people view America as a land of opportunity and prosperity and dream of coming here to find a better life. Quite the opposite, I spend countless hours day dreaming about the people living under stressful conditions in Africa and all that I could do to help them. In Africa, there are endless opportunities for me to make a difference because so many people are in dire need of love, care, and education. Last year, I decided that it was time to follow my heart and so on June 17, 2011, I departed for Tanzania, Africa.
        Mama Faraji and the Tuleeni Orphans reside in the small village of Rau which is about 45 minutes from Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Tuleeni means ‘Care for Us’ in Swahili-- Mama Faraji and her husband (Baba) both work full time jobs in order to help supply for these amazing children. Mama is a teacher at a school called Rapanga Primary School and Baba is a very respected veterinarian. The thing that i believe was most special about the Tuleeni orphans was their intelligence, love, and desire for education and schooling-- mama believe that education is the most important thing in the world and she spends the majority of the money that she makes as well as the donations the orphanage receives on the children's schooling. Mama Faraji hopes that sending them to school will help them to obtain the necessary tools for securing the best future possible. Next to Mama Faraji's home, she has opened a nursery school in order to bring in as much money as they can to send these children to school.
         Because of my background with social work and African/African American studies as well as my desire for unity and cultural acceptance in this world, I knew that I would fall in love with Africa and would return a changed person. However, returning a “changed person” is a bit of an understatement when describing the impact this trip had on me. Every morning I went to teach at a nursery school for extremely underprivileged children. At this school, I was given the name “Neema” because the young children couldn’t pronounce “Mandy”. When I asked the principal of the school why they picked this name, he told me that “Neema” means “ blessing” in Swahili.
         After two short days of volunteering at this school, I told the head coordinator of the volunteer program I was with (Cross Cultural Solutions) that as amazing as volunteering at the nursery was, four hours of volunteering in the mornings wasn’t enough work for me and that I wanted to do more. He told me that I could volunteer during my free time in the afternoons at an orphanage called Tuleeni. I was thrilled. My first day volunteering at this orphanage was the single most memorable and life-changing experience I've ever had. This day happened to be my twentieth birthday, and I thought that there was no better way to spend the celebration of my birth than to do the thing I was born to do--- help others. I spent the entire day at the orphanage playing games and singing songs with the children. They surprised me that evening and threw me a birthday party—the first song they played at the party was an American song called “One Step at a Time” by Jordan Sparks. My eyes began to fill with tears as I listening to the words and saw the smiling faces of children around me. One of the orphans asked me why I was crying. I took off my shoe and showed them the words tattooed on the inside of my foot… it reads “One Step at a Time.” A brilliant woman by the name of Marian Wright Edelman once said, “If you have a problem with the world, change it. You have an obligation to change it—just do it one step at a time.” These words on my foot are a constant reminder to me that while the journey of a million miles may seem long and out of reach, it all begins with one step. I felt like this song playing on my birthday in Africa was a message from God telling me that I was taking a huge step in my journey to change the world.
            Currently there 78 Tuleeni Orphans living in Tanzania who Mama Faraji and her husband support. They provide these children with schooling, clothes, shelter, and love year round and essentially are the parents of all of them. Despite all of Mama and her husband's hard work efforts, the orphanage is much too small to house all these children and so many of them are sleeping three and four per a tiny bed-- I am currently working with DELL to help fundraise to furnish new beds and mattresses for the new orphanage. The children also are lacking mosquito nets, a necessity in the ongoing fight to prevent malaria. A huge portion of the orphanage’s money comes from donations and volunteers. However, as time goes on, many people’s interest begins to wane and the funds stop coming. Mama Faraji has been desperately trying to raise the funds to build a new home for these children—a home with beds, mosquito nets, food, and most importantly, a loving mother to help raise the children and provide them with a proper education. Mama Faraji spends over 52 million shillings a year on education for the children-- that is 36,000 USD-- while this may not seem like that much to you, keep in mind that at a good paying job, one will only make about $200 USD a month in Tanzania.

Over Christmas vacation, I went back to Tanzania to surprise the orphans and spend three weeks with them. While I was there, we were hard at work finishing last minute building plans and meeting with contractors and builders. I came back from Tanzania after winter vacation on January 13, 2012. Since then, some exciting things have been happening here in Texas! Check out the links below to read the article that was written about a fundraiser I put together as well as an interview with Fox News!

FOX NEWS interview with me about the Tuleeni Orphanage in Tanzania

University of Texas Daily Texan-- front page article on Valentine's Day:

Anyone interested in making a donation can donate at and for those of you who would want to buy a t-shirt (which is featured in the end of the Fox News video) the shirts are $13 and that will pay to feed all the children at the orphanage for one day! Feel free to email me at with any questions! 

All my love and so much more,