Got Passion? Rodrick Shao

August 13, 2012

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When instructional technologist Rodrick Shao moved to the United States from Tanzania two decades ago, he saw endless opportunities. Shao says he was given an unexpected career opportunity. The top executive of the company he was at saw his potential and agreed to help him advance his career. There was a single condition: one day, he must help someone else.

For the past 10 years, Shao and his wife Elly have been raising money and awareness for orphans in Tanzania. His time in the U.S. showed him just how much was offered. Things as simple as food, shelter, and education are sometimes taken for granted and he wanted to give back all he’d been given.

“Like many African nations, Tanzania faces great poverty,” Shao said. “Our hearts go out to the children, especially those who are orphans. The AIDS epidemic has wiped out a generation of young parents. Their children are now the responsibility of society and we wanted to share the stories of these children.”

While many orphans have lost their parents, some are also HIV positive and others have disabilities. Although the community rallies around these children, they struggle to provide for them since they themselves live in poverty. Shao works with the Lutheran church in Tanzania, setting up monetary funds and donations for school supplies and even livestock. In the last seven years, over $35,000 has been sent from funds collected through TLU and Seguin.

“I encourage people to look at their own lives, what they’ve been given, and how they can return the favor,” Shao said. “These children need books, backpacks, and financial support for medical expenses. They deserve it. When I visited home last year, many of them came up to me and talked about TLU and Seguin. They might not know where they are, but they know they’re getting help from those places and they’re so grateful. Hearing them say thank you is the greatest feeling in the world.”

For more information about the Watoto Project, check out the article in Torch magazine.

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