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Meet Our Amazing Children!

Click To See More Pictures Of Each Kid

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Nelson - Age 11

The smile that started it all! Nelson has been the driving force behind the entire Nelson initiative and has been in school for two years now. After his mom died from AIDS, Nelson was left in the hands of his father who was a severe alcoholic. Nelson spent his childhood being dragged from bar to bar, often sleeping on the side of the road if no other option presented itself. After being accepted into an orphanage, he caught the eye of McCrea, who was volunteering there at the time. The rest is history!

LIGHTY - Age 6

Lighty grew up in a very small village a few minutes away from Ebeneezer Orphanage, where her mom worked while she was a baby. With no father in her life, Mama Lighty was devastated when she had to leave the orphanage and had no other way to take care of Lighty. Fortunately, we were able to bring her into Team Nelson! She has an amazing amount of energy and is sure to become the center of attention no matter where she goes. Her smile is infectious and she tends to be the ringleader when surrounded by her friends.

Opendo - age 10

Opendo was orphaned after her parents were killed in a bus crash, which is unfortunately a relatively common occurrence in Tanzania due to their lax traffic laws. Out of all of our kids, Opendo is the one who has changed the most since joining the team. Shy at first, she is now one of the Team Nelson “OG’s” and is quick to take the new team members under her wing and show them the ropes.


Godfrey lost both of his parents to AIDS and was raised by his grandfather in a tiny lean-to hut on the edge of the village. Growing up with absolutely nothing, we have never met a happier little family. He was raised by Baba, his grandfather, who has few teeth but the biggest smile in Tanzania. Godfrey takes after Baba and is constantly running around with a big smile, absolutely bursting with life and enthusiasm. He could not stop beaming when he showed us his bunk bed, the first bed in which he had ever slept.

Bless - age 6

We are so blessed to have little Blessy as part of the team. After her father died, her mom could no longer afford to keep her and left her at an orphanage. She was just four years old at the time and we were fortunate to cross paths with her soon thereafter. Bless fits right in among her new classmates, yet, with high energy and a big smile, you can pick her out of a crowd from a mile away. She is definitely full of energy and loves pulling her classmates together for a dance party or a game. She loves her sunglasses and is high on our list of “most likely to become a movie-star”!

ashe - age 14

Ashe found her way to Team Nelson later in her youth than our other students. After her father died of AIDS and her mother died during child birth, Ashe and her two siblings were suddenly orphaned. While her younger siblings were able to find sponsors, Ashe was left by herself with no direction. We have always strived to seek out the “forgotten” children that might not immediately attract sponsor attention. Ashe was given a second chance to go to school and no child has ever been happier when she walked through the doors of the school on her first day!

Abduli - age 12

Abduli grew up on the outskirts of Arusha with his sister, Nasra, and his mother. His mother lost her eyesight many years ago and is now completely blind. With the help of Abduli and Nasra, the family was able to survive by maintaining a small garden along the edge of their home, selling vegetables out of their house to their neighbors. Abduli loves school but has been unable to attend because of the care that his mother requires. He is very competitive and loves playing games against the other kids.

Brayan - age 8

Bryan and his brother Colin (also Team Nelson!) grew up in a very small village thirty minutes east of Arusha with their mother. Their mother has been battling diabetes for many years and has been unable to successfully stave off the effects of the disease. No longer capable of providing for Brayan and Colin, a local leader from their village reached out to Team Nelson for help. We first met Brayan as a very quiet, shy little guy but he opened up as soon as we turned on the music.

pascale - age 8

Pascale has spent the last several years living with Abduli and Nasra in a small village in Arusha. He has been going to preschool with our local favorite, Pascalina, who runs the day care and preschool in the village. Pascalina does not know much about Pascale’s background before he showed up at her door, but he is one of the smiliest kids in Team Nelson and loves chasing after soccer balls and playing on the playground. He is great with his ABC’s and makes a point to correct the other kids when they make a mistake.

Waziri - age 5

We first met Waziri at Babu’s (Godfrey’s Grandfather!) earlier this year. He and Godfrey were best friends and he was very sad when they were separated so that Godfrey could go to St. Patrick’s. We believe that they are actually cousins! He was very shy at first, but opened up when he got a hold of Cody’s glasses for a bit. We weren’t able to bring Waziri on board right away, but we all remembered meeting him and couldn’t wait to have him join the team once we had the funds to get him into school! Before going to St. Patricks, he was splitting time between Godfrey’s grandfather’s house and his Aunt’s. His entire family was mute, which is why he has been raised by the townspeople and other family members.

daniel - Age 12

Daniel is twelve years old and is one of seven kids, growing up with his entire family in a one room apartment in Arusha. He is the twin brother of Damas! He has always dreamed of flying and hopes to be a pilot one day. Our friend, Pascalina, reached out to us for help when she visited the family and realized what a dire situation the kids were facing. They didn’t have enough money for food, never mind education. He loves playing football and playing around with his brother and younger siblings.

Hamida - Age 6

Hamida was born into a family with one father and four wives. With each of the wives and their children entirely dependent on the one patriarchal source of income, they were devastated by his death. Hamida is an absolute sweetheart and a little snugglebug. Every time we show up at her school, she runs over and climbs up into our arms with a big smile on her face ready to give some hugs.

Magret - age 10

Magret was raised by a 90 year old man who she considers to be her father. He was no longer able to work and they were having difficulty keeping up on the rent of the one room they had in a mud shanty at the edge of town. Now, Magret is thriving at the Hiradali School where her favorite subject is English. She has grown so tall since we first met her and is running circles around the boys on the playground! She is certainly one of the quieter, more studious Team Nelson kids, but loves getting to interact with all of the other kids on the team.

kelvin - age 10

Kelvin was not in school when we first met him. He was forced to leave his elementary school because he was needed to help work in the fields. His mom and dad can no longer afford to feed him and just farm for their survival now. Kelvin has started back in school now, although he is a bit older than the other kids in his class. He is catching up fast and working very hard, meeting with a tutor every day after class to make sure that he catches up. Kelvin is still assimilating at the Hiradali School and we’re thankful that Nelson is there to show him the ropes!

micha - age 5

Micha is another one of our youngsters and grew up a stone’s throw away from the St. Patrick’s School. Living in a one bedroom hut with his mom and dad, he watched the other kids go to school every day while his mom sold corn on the side of the road in order to support him. We are so happy that we are able to make Micha’s dream of joining those kids come true. Whenever he sees us coming onto school-grounds, he runs out of the school yard to greet us and proudly leads us around the school to meet his friends!

Nasra - age 10

Nasra is the quiet younger sister of Abduli and grew up with him and their mother in a little village in Arusha. With her mother losing her eyesight, Nasra has had to stay by her side every waking hour and has not been able to go to school. Within an hour of arriving at her new school, she had already found a small group of friends and was walking around arm-in-arm. She loves singing and dancing! As you can see from her pictures, she has yet to meet a camera that she is unable to charm.

Colin - age 6

Colin and his brother Brayan (also Team Nelson!) grew up in a very small village thirty minutes east of Arusha with their mother. Their mother has been battling diabetes for many years and has been unable to successfully stave off the effects of the disease. No longer capable of providing for Brayan and Colin, a local leader from their village reached out to Team Nelson for help. He has a giant smile and loves running around playground. As soon as we set foot on campus, he was dragging us towards the soccer pitch.


Maria has been going to school with Nelson and the gang at Hiradali for several years now, having previously lived at the same orphanage. We do not know much about her childhood, but are very excited to welcome her to the team! We have been lucky to get to know Maria over the last several years and have seen her grow from one of the shyest, quietest girls in the orphanage to one of the kindest, smartest young women in school. She and Magret are best friends at Hiradali. Maria dreams of becoming a teacher one day and her favorite subject is English.

Damas - age 12

Damas and his twin brother Daniel caught the attention of Team Nelson after one of our friends visited their family’s apartment in early 2019. Their family is extremely poor and were no longer able to support the boys and their siblings. Damas wishes to become a doctor one day, a dream he has held since meeting a visiting volunteer doctor in his village years ago. He and his siblings love playing football in the roads outside of their apartment and loves the color pink.