How Cancer Inspired One Woman to Help Students in Tanzania

Barbara Poole // Founder of Build Tanzanian Family Futures and Serengeti Scholars // Featured at

Build Tanzanian Family Futures (BTFF) was founded by Barbara Poole in 2011 after cancer changed her life. “Within two days of completing treatment, I found myself in the middle of the worst poverty I had ever seen, on a planned family trip to Africa,” said Poole. “It hit me like a brick. I had to do something to give back for my life being saved.” And so she did.
She founded BTFF and opened a daycare and preschool in Tanzania. BTFF also started a Village Bank and Entrepreneurship training program for women. Most recently, the organization started a new project called Serengeti Scholars in January of 2015, which will soon be BTFF’s largest project and area of concentration.
Through September 30, Society B is donating 10% of all sales to Serengeti Scholars to send impoverished students to school in Tanzania. Serengeti Scholars is a project of Build Tanzanian Family Futures—a 501(c)(3) organization.
Serengeti Scholars currently sponsors 50 secondary school students who attend thirteen of the top-ranked Tanzanian Government Schools in and around Arusha. Without sponsorship, these students could not afford the tuition to attend school. 
The goal of Serengeti Scholars is to help students prepare for college or be ready to enter the workforce upon graduation. Serengeti Scholars is also planning to build an Entrepreneurship Center to teach coding, web development, and general business skills to ensure that each student is employable.  
So how does the organization select the kids they sponsor for school? Poole told us, “Although every one of the kids in the government schools are among the poorest in Tanzania, we choose academic performance before reviewing income level.” Why? “Because giving money to the family of a mediocre student will do nothing to raise the student and their family out of poverty.”
Poole added, “No longer a purely school sponsorship organization, we have become a humanitarian group. We provide the support needed for kids to be able to have even the most rudimentary needs to live their lives and go to school.”


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.