About Us

How we began…

The ‘Help Build Tuleeni a Home’ initiative was established in 2008 after Jackie Weiss, Eric Nelson and Amy Viola volunteered together at Tuleeni Orphanage during the summer of 2008. Working together with Flaria Faraji, the founder of Tuleeni Orphanage, the project was developed to raise the funds necessary to purchase a large plot of land, and build a new and sustainable orphanage for the children of Tuleeni.

Tuleeni Orphanage, located in Rau Village in Northern Tanzania, is the home of 84 children, with 29 others depending on the home’s limited resources. In its current state the orphanage is well past capacity, with children sleeping 2-3 to beds with torn mosquito nets. The compound is a modest rented home encircling a dirt filled yard with open ground latrines and a small outdoor kitchen. These living conditions have presented a substantial challenge to these children, exacerbated by the frequent rains which turn the dirt yard to mud. In addition, Mama Faraji has had to take the older children to live in her home located near by due to the number of children depending on Tuleeni. In order to keep up with the monthly rental fee, she has had to cut back on payment of school fees for the children, and she believes this will prevent them from the chance of a better life. Despite their difficult lives, the children have remained optimistic, and with unrelenting compassion for one another they are a family.

Since its inception, the ‘Help Build Tuleeni a Home’ initiative has successfully raised the funds necessary to purchase the land, and begin construction of a new orphanage. This began with excavation and property development, the construction of the building’s foundation, and currently the erection of walls.  With great pride, we can only thank all of the many generous individuals who have contributed to this project over the years. Without this kindness, this project could not have thrived, let alone brought it as close to completion as it is now.

With the completion of the new Tuleeni Orphanage on the horizon, The Faraji Foundation was formed to expand the mandate of this organization, with focus on sustainability, education, community outreach and health in rural Tanzania.

 

The People…

Flaria Farajimama

As a mother, teacher, caregiver and the founder of Tuleeni Orphanage, Mama Faraji is a true inspiration to anyone hoping to affect positive change. Herself an orphan, she has dedicated her life to the care and education of orphaned children in the area surrounding Moshi, Tanzania. Her sacrifice, hard work and perseverance has facilitated the healthy development and education of children, who otherwise would have been forced to fend for themselves. It is our hope that the altruism, compassion and thoughtful dedication demonstrated by Mama Faraji will be manifested in every action taken by The Faraji Foundation.

 

Jackie Weiss Tanzania '12 Dad 1123

Jackie grew up in a small town north of Los Angeles and moved to Sonoma County in 2005. She visited Tanzania in 2008, where she volunteered at a nursery school in the morning, and decided to visit Tuleeni Orphanage with Eric and Amy the first week they were there. They all fell in love and went back almost every afternoon for the duration of their stay.  Upon her return home, Jackie got a phone call from Eric about hosting a big fundraiser to build Tuleeni a new home. Since that day, she has taken charge to get us where we are today. Four years later, she was able to return to Tanzania and found the inspiration and motivation to take the next step by creating The Faraji Foundation.

 

Amy Cross-Viola

amycv

Growing up in Buffalo, NY Amy was always interested in working with people. Her true passion is working with people residing in disadvantaged areas. With an interest in mental health, Amy pursued her Masters degree in psychiatric social work at University of Illinois at Chicago. During this time she decided to travel to Tanzania for an international volunteer trip. As the plane landed, Amy realized her love for Africa. That love only grew as she began to develop relationships with the local communities, particularly the Tuleeni community of Mama Faraji and all of her children. Amy has returned to Buffalo, where she is happily married and working as a social worker. Amy is ecstatic to be part of the inspirational and compassionate group of individuals that make up The Faraji Foundation.

 

Monica Ek546886_708528416671_1933561423_n

Monica grew up in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and Stuttgart, Germany. She has a passion for children and families especially those who have survived trauma, abuse, neglect or poverty. She had a dream to experience aid work abroad and so, with her boyfriend, Drew, moved to Moshi, Tanzania in 2011, for one year, and connected with Tuleeni Orphan’s Home. Due to the extreme corruption within volunteer tourism and the orphanage’s struggle to be self-sustainable, their aim was to work with Flaria Faraji to develop small business projects in order to lessen their reliance on international aid. They also worked to provide extra-curricular activities to help orphans develop educational and interpersonal skills such as computer training, typing and sex education courses. She has tremendous respect and admiration for Flaria Faraji and her ability to create a loving and supportive family for so many struggling children. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at Simmons College in Boston to be able to be a therapist for child and adolescents. She hopes to return to Tuleeni to do individual counseling, psycho-educational groups around developing healthy relationships and continue supporting The Faraji Foundation to work towards the orphanage’s growth and sustainability.

 

Shanna Weissshanna

Shanna was born and raised in Los Angeles where she works in apparel manufacturing. She became involved with Tuleeni when her sister, Jackie, began working on their behalf. She has been a supporter from the beginning and has always done what she can to seek out and discover new sources of funding and grants to apply for. Now that the Build Tuleeni A Home project has expanded into The Faraji Foundation, she is eager to play a larger role! She can’t wait for the chance to get out to Tanzania herself and become more hands on within the foundation!

 

Sean Pearsonsean

Sean Pearson was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. He’s currently completing his Associates degree in Business Administration and will be transferring as an accounting major next fall. Sean has also studied video, advertising, and public relations. His joy of solving math problems carried into a desire to find solutions for others’ problems. He’s always loved to help and recently started a clothing line aimed at making donations for every shirt sold to various charities. Sean hopes to save enough in the next two years to visit Tuleeni and help with any labor, or any form of help, the orphanage needs. For now, his contribution will mostly be videos to advertise the help the children need and fundraiser planning. His goal is to design a new shirt line with proceeds for the orphanage, and possibly start managing finances and take care of accounting after he passes his CPA exam.

 

Jackie DeGray

jackie_pic

Originally from Mount Shasta California, it has been her passion for many years to work with children who have disabilities, and children who are of lower-economic status. She moved to Santa Rosa when she was eighteen to pursue a culinary arts career. However, preparing food for people wasn’t the way that she wanted to help people. Jackie is now a student, in her early twenties, pursuing the goal of becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. It is her dream to work with children in elementary schools, and then eventually open a private practice. Her involvement in The Faraji Foundation has been inspirational to her. She has enjoyed helping the cause by becoming a board member, as well as creative ideas to help the foundation. In the near future she would like to travel overseas to help with any projects that The Faraji Foundation may be working on.

 

Emmanuel Kiwiataikunff

Emmanuel is one of three of Mama Faraji’s biological children and one of the older boys at Tuleeni. He was born in Moshi Tanzania, and grew up within the Tuleeni community from 2006, when the orphanage was officially founded, until now. Tuleeni is his family where he shares  joy, love and hope. He is interested in computer networking and graphic design. Currently pursuing Information Technology at Moshi University. He has a dream of helping and share true love with the vulnerable people. He has always done whatever he can to help Tuleeni on the daily activities as well as serves as a huge help when it comes to day too day communication between Tanzania, the US, and Canada!

Jessica Garlock jess

Jessica volunteered with the Tuleeni Orphanage over the holidays in 2011/2012 with Cross Cultural Solutions and was deeply inspired by all that Mama Faraji has done and continues to do! Jessica has a background in social work and has served as an AmeriCorps and Peace Corps Volunteer in the past. She is thrilled to be on the board of such a wonderful organization! Jessica also sponsors the education of one of the children at the orphanage, and is counting the days until she is able to return to Tanzania for another visit.