This week we lost a tireless supporter of EdPowerment’s work in the Kilimahewa and surrounding villages, Bob Deiss. Without Bob, the Kilimahewa Educational Centre would not be the vibrant, multi-purpose haven for learning that it is becoming today. Kerri Elliott, EdPowerment’s Director, wrote the following tribute to this exceptional human being.
In 2012, I had the luxury of meeting Bob Deiss. Bob was a kind and generous man as well as a dedicated humanitarian. I met Bob through the Antioch Rotary Club. As the advisor of the District 117 Interact club, I was introduced to Bob as someone who had recently moved to the Antioch area and was looking to support people in any way he could.
Around the same time of his arrival, I had been working tirelessly on a Rotary Global Grant application to support EdPowerment’s student sponsorships in order for our ents to attend universities. After a year and half of working on the application, we learned that Rotary International’s Global Grants would not fund student sponsorships, despite support of local Rotaries. I was frustrated, stressed, and ready to give up. That is when I met Bob.
Bob sat down and listened to everything EdPowerment was doing in Tanzania. He spent time reading our website and our blog. He asked questions about all our programs. Bob helped to pinpoint programs within our organization that Rotary International would fund, and he helped me rewrite our grant application. He worked with me a few hours every week for over a year to write a grant that would to benefit the Kilimahewa Educational Centre and community.
Whenever I was ready to throw in the towel, Bob said we could do it. Whenever I was frustrated, Bob said he would help me. And whenever I was tired and unsure, Bob said, “ Let’s ve a glass of wine and we will figure it out.” With Bob’s help, and his glasses of wine, we wrote a grant application to secure $66,250 in funding. Backed by his Gantz charts, and budgeting skills, we developed a solid project that in the end won approval.
The goal of our new and improved global grant application was to provide teenagers and community members in the area of Kilimahewa, Tanzania with the knowledge, competencies and tools to achieve self reliance and a way out of poverty.
The $66,250 we were able to secure with Bob’s help is currently been used to:
- Develop a Digital Literacy Program using solar technology, computers, software programs, Internet, and projectors. Since this project started in January 2015, we have educated over 70 students and community members on how to use computers, navigate Microsoft programs and the Internet, create email accounts, and learn independently through digital materials.
- Develop an agricultural skills development program to teach students and community members how to use various farming methods to create solid agricultural projects that will yield income for themselves and their families. By the end of this year Kilimahewa will have a new greenhouse, an organic farm, a rabbit farm, and
a fish farm. These also will enable the school to teach best farming practices.
- Provide 105 people with physical disabilities in Moshi and Arusha areas with wheelchairs so they can navigate their environments and live more independently.
I am currently living in Tanzania, working to make this vision a reality. We are in year one of this two-year grant. Because of Bob’s persistence, patience, and desire to help people, we have the funds to make these undertakings possible
Bob was a remarkable person with a huge heart and a wonderful way of using his skills to benefit others. Bob epitomizes what it means to be a humanitarian. Meeting him not only inspired me to keep going, but it paved the way for many vulnerable children of Kilimahewa to keep going as well.
In honor of Bob and his hard work, and in coordination with the Antioch Rotary Club, we will be installing a plaque at the Kilimahewa Educational Centre in his honor. Although our vision is not yet complete, I know Bob will be looking down on me and even in the toughest of times he will slip me a glass of wine and say, “Keep going, you can do this.”