The Stella Maris Primary School Tour

Jamie’s life was full of wonderful adventures. Perhaps his favorite and most life-changing adventure was his trip to Tanzania. The trip was ostensibly organized to do a Kilimanjaro trek, but we also wanted to bring purpose to our travel. To that end, we had the pleasure of staying at the Stella Maris Lodge, a non-profit hotel dedicated to funding the adjacent Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School. Jamie and Matt had a surprising moment of joy when we walked over to the school and were invited to join the kids for a game of soccer. Later, we returned with the rest of our crew when we were offered a tour of the school. The experience was a profound one for Jamie. When he returned from Tanzania, he began investigating opportunities to work with organizations such as the Peace Corp so that he could help less fortunate people like the kids of Tanzania to make sure that their basic needs – like fresh running water and electricity – were met. Jamie was on a path to find a purpose-driven life, and we want everyone to remember him that way.

About the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School

Set in the village of Mailisita, on the outskirts of Moshi and in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School was established in the mid-2000's at a time when the AIDS epidemic presented an enormous challenge to Tanzania. Nationwide, the HIV crisis has left nearly 1 million children orphaned. In the town of Moshi and the surrounding villages, where families live an agrarian existence producing little more than the food that they need for themselves, the prospects for an orphan are bleak. There are no government programs to support orphans, and other families are reluctant to bring them in because they can't afford to feed and educate them. The Mailisita Foundation partnered with the local church to help provide an innovative solution.

Built by the people of Mailisita village in partnership with the Mailisita Foundation, the Stella Maris Lodge caters to the international tourists who come to climb Kilimanjaro and go on safari in the great parks of Tanzania. All of the proceeds of the lodge go to sustain the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School, located on the same property. Through the hotel, the school is able to teach the vulnerable children of the Mailisita region in English, providing them with an invaluable education that will open many doors for them down the road.

Today, the Stella Maris Primary School and Kindergarten feeds and educates 373 vulnerable children. Under Headmistress Mama Shayo's guidance, the students regularly test in the top 3% of Tanzanian schools.

Stella Maris Primary School Class Picture

Taking the next step

Taking the Next Step

According to UNESCO, in 2019, only 32% of the eligible secondary education population in Tanzania was enrolled in secondary school. While there are many reasons why primary school students don't go on to high school, for the students of the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School, the biggest reason is that they can't afford it.

There is a serious shortage of public secondary schools in Tanzania and limited funding for the public schools that are available. As a result, students of the public schools have to travel great distances every day to attend overcrowded and under-resourced schools. Private secondary boarding schools provide a much richer educational experience and improve the chances that the students will be able to complete their secondary education.

The cost for a student to attend a private secondary boarding school — including tuition, room and board — is approximately $1,200 US per year. For students of the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School, this cost is well out of reach. The school has had some success over the years finding individual donors who will sponsor a student for a year or more of secondary school, but this approach is hard to repeat year after year.

Jamie McGahran Scholarship Fund

Our goal is to create an endowed scholarship in Jamie's memory for the students of the Stella Maris English-Medium Primary School. The scholarship would be awarded to at least one graduating student every 4 to 6 years and would be used to cover the tuition, room and board for the awarded student(s) for the entire duration of their secondary education. The endowed scholarship would continue to fund the secondary education costs of new Stella Maris students every 4 to 6 years in perpetuity.

We will work directly with the Stella Maris primary school administration as well as the Mailisita Foundation to select the students who will be awarded the scholarship, based on need, ability and interest.

We would be delighted if you would consider helping us with this tribute to Jamie by making a donation.

Make a Donation

Jamie McGahran Scholarship Fund

All donations will be made to the James McGahran Memorial Foundation, a non-profit corporation dedicated to administering the James McGahran Memorial Scholarship. The foundation is recognized as a tax-exempt not-for-profit by the Internal Revenue Service. Donations made after February 20, 2021 may be tax-deductible. The foundation's legal and financial statements can be viewed here.