our visioN 

Our name, Nakujali, means 'I care about you' in Kiswahili.  And that's what we do - show we care, one person at a time.  Our goal is to offer opportunities for one-to-one educational, financial, and personal support by connecting young people in need with caring sponsors who want to help. 

At Nakujali we have seen firsthand the difference it can make in a young person's life to know that someone, somewhere in the world, really cares about them. And, as sponsors, we have experienced the joy and fulfillment that comes from having an ongoing personal connection with a child in need.


Unlike many sponsorships programs, which focus on basic education, Nakujali is committed to partnering with students through their whole educational journey.  We know from experience that young adults, navigating the difficult transition to independence and productive adulthood, need support and guidance as much as younger children, if not more.  Sadly, for those who have no families, or families with no experience in higher education, this guidance just isn't available.  For this reason, Nakujali encourages partnerships for deserving students who are motivated to complete form 5 & 6 (Advanced-levels), vocational or college programs, and university  studies.

Our story

In 2009 Mary Wendling set out with her husband and three daughters to volunteer in an orphanage center in the city of Arusha, in Northern Tanzania.

Conditions at the orphanage were not what they had expected.  All of the volunteers agreed that in order for the children to get an adequate education, they needed to study in a more structured school environment.  And so an informal sponsorshsip program was begun, to send the children to a new English-speaking boarding school, where the kids would get a solid education as well as regular food and a safe, structured living environment.

Mary and her family sponsored an impish 12 year old boy named Maulidi, to attend & board at the school.  Maulidi knew only a little English, but was outgoing, chatty, and charming!  In spite of his age, he started in primary school, but quickly worked his way up through the grades, accomplishing much, and becoming head boy in his school. 


In 2017 he completed his O-level exams, and is now working on completing his final 2 years of Advanced Secondary (A-levels), still sponsored by the Wendlings. They keep in close contact via Facebook and WhatsApp, and Mary has traveled to Tanzania to visit him several times.  This sponsorship has been a source of great personal fulfillment and joy on both sides. The whole family is happy and proud to have Maulidi as their Tanzanian son and brother. They hope he will be a part of their life forever.


Maulidi and Mary in 2009

our Team of volunteers


Mary Wendling

Mary is currently Curriculum Coordinator at Vancouver Island University's English Language Centre, where she has been teaching and training teachers for 17 years. She has been personally involved in student partnerships in Tanzania since 2009 and goes there several times each year to stay connected with her "kids".  She is excited about offering this incredibly fulfilling  sponsorship opportunity to others.


Joy McWhirter 

Joy has been an instructor in the English Language Centre at Vancouver Island University for over 20 years.  She first visited Tanzania in  2018 to do some volunteer teacher training, returning again in 2019. Joy fell in love with the country and the people and sees Nakujali Education Partnerships as a perfect chance to get more involved and to spread the love!


Helen McWhirter

Helen has been a teacher in New Westminster, BC in the adult learning program for the past 15 years. She was first inspired to become a teacher when she volunteered at a local school in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Helen travelled to Tanzania in 2019. That trip simply increased her commitment to doing all she can to support our student partners.



Baptista Ntinya

Baptista is a teacher and discipline officer at one of our partner schools in Arusha, Tanzania, and is our local coordinator there.  He has a background in psychology, and works on the front line, providing loving support of every kind to our sponsored kids,  and helping to identify students who need our help.


Francis Baritang'o Lucas

Francis (aka Tango) is a well-known tour operator in Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Having lived with  poverty himself as a child,  he is devoted to providing help and education to impoverished youth in his community, and is very excited to be part of Nakujali.  Francis is our very capable local coordinator for Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.


Kathy Grabher


Kathy recently started working in the faculty of International Education at Vancouver Island University.  She has over twenty years of experience volunteering both locally and globally.  It is the global work experiences her family has had in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua, that have inspired Kathy to join Nakujali Education Partnerships.  Kathy understands the importance of education and how it can change lives.  She looks forward to travelling to Tanzania to volunteer, and she hopes to inspire others to contribute to the lives of children in Tanzania as well.


Maddie Wendling

Madeleine is a recent graduate of McGill University in Classical Vocal Performance. When she traveled to Tanzania in 2009 with her family she felt inspired by the bright young minds, and wants to encourage, mentor and support these young people to pursue their educational goals and dreams.  Madeleine currently lives in London, England where she is actively fundraising in order to help support our young students' education.


Lucie Wendling

Lucie is an Environmental Science student at McGill University.  She is deeply committed to improving the world we live in in every way that she can, and believes that education is the key. At the age of 11, she taught a small group of pre-school kids at the orphanage in Tanzania, this experience, coupled with tutoring kids since she was 14, taught her the importance and satisfaction of reaching out one-to-one to support students.


Aziza John

Aziza is both a Nakujali volunteer and a very strong and deserving student partner.  Her goal is to fight against poverty in her community of Dar es Salaam, and in her country, and prove that being born poor should not stop us from making our dreams come true.  She believes that education is the key to this fight, and is excited to be part of Nakujali.


Mimi Klein

Mimi has a background in development and non-profit work having worked in a social business in India, and with the homeless in Los Angeles.  She has a BA in International Development and Marketing from McGill University. She became involved with Nakujali because she believes anyone with a desire to be educated should have that right, and Nakujali aims to make that right a reality.