It Seemed Impossible

On Wednesday, April 1, Yusuph received dire information from our Tanzanian Country Director, Pastor Jeremiah Motomoto.  With the threat of COVID-19 looming over the country there was a high probability of the nation shutting down in the immediate future.  A shut down in Tanzania would mean more than just self-isolation and boredom at home.  It would mean the complete closure of markets.

These markets normally are bustling from sunup to sundown, filled with people buying their daily sustenance.  Because most people are day laborers, the majority of Tanzanians are unable to buy food for more than just their daily needs.  A shut down would mean people would need to purchase food in bulk and ration it among their family members.  Unfortunately, people’s poverty could and would prevent them from being able to be prepared for a shut down.  For many Tanzanians, including the poor families we serve at our schools, a shutdown poses the very real threat of starvation.

Upon receiving the news, Yusuph knew we needed to try to help the families of our school children, in some form or fashion.  In case of shutdown markets, Twelve21 needed to provide food for the families connected with our schools.  Jeremiah and Yusuph worked tirelessly that day, crunching numbers and researching plans, eventually coming to the conclusion that we needed $15,000.  This would provide food for our students and their families, along with our teachers and staff, for four months.

That evening, Yusuph floated a seemingly crazy idea to some of the Twelve21 Global staff: We need to raise $15,000 in the span of 10 days, and we need to use social media to do it.

It seemed impossible.  A couple staff members even voiced this concern (though padding it with the appropriate, “God can do it, but…” caveat).  $15,000 would provide 15,000 meals to our families and students. Unless it was a work of God, it was going to fail.  But we had to try.  Any money we received would be better than nothing.  Any food is better than none at all.

The plan was simple: Ask people to donate $4, which would provide 4 meals, and challenge them to tag 4 friends who would be willing to do the same.  We asked them to write Food4Hope on their hand and share it on social media.  Lord-willing the goal would be met and we would provide meals for 4 months.  The campaign launched at 12:21 p.m. on April 4.

Within two hours 4,016 meals were funded.  By the next morning we had received enough money to provide 9,010 meals.  Friends in Tanzania saw the push and donated to help their neighbors.  People involved their pets, their children, and their grandparents in the challenge.  People we did not even know were donating $4 to help Tanzanians in need.

After the second day, we had enough funds to provide over 11,000 meals.  Our staff in Tanzania were able to make the first food deliveries just two days after the campaign began.  Clearly, this was a movement God was making possible.

The $15,000 goal was reached in just a mere 4 days.  The significance of meeting the need on day 4 was not lost on us: $4 provided 4 meals, people tagged 4 friends, we provided enough meals for 4 months, and God made it happen in 4 days.  God certainly was smiling.

Since reaching the goal, funds have continued to come in.  To date, we have received a little over $5,000 beyond our goal.  A goal that we were unsure was even going to be met was surpassed.  If that is not God doing more than we can ask or imagine, I don’t know what is (Ephesians 3:20-21).

While the money piece is incredible, it pales in comparison to the gratitude of those who have received the food.  Along with the food, families are receiving bars of soap and are equipped with education on how to best stay healthy during this season.  The smiles of the parents and children as they pick up the food are indescribable.  Their gratitude is evident.  For one of the few times in their lives, the families in these poor communities are feeling valued, remembered, and loved.  They are experiencing hope in the midst of a dark situation.  Our prayer is they find their eternal hope in the name of Jesus (Matthew 12:21).

Katie Emmanuel

Director of Education

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