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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, October 2, 2023
HomeCommunityOrganizationsProject Promise Comes Full Circle With Tanzania Orphanage Initiative

Project Promise Comes Full Circle With Tanzania Orphanage Initiative

Resa O’Reilly, front, rewards the caterpillars of Project Promise with a surprise trip to Disneyland. Pictured: Viunca Medina, Layla O’Reilly, J’Neelah Daniel and Kinaya Davis. (Photo submitted by Resa O'Reilly)
Resa O’Reilly-Shearn, front, some of the caterpillars of Project Promise. Pictured: Viunca Medina, Layla O’Reilly, J’Neelah Daniel and Kinaya Davis. (Photo submitted by Resa O’Reilly)

Eight years ago, Resa O’Reilly Shearn, executive director and founder of St. Croix non-profit Project Promise, was watching TV when images of an orphanage in a remote village in Tanzania caught her attention. She immediately knew that she wanted to support this orphanage as part of Project Promise’s international outreach efforts. As a result, the annual “Toys for Tanzania” initiative was born.

Every year since 2016, the students in Project Promise’s flagship Caterpillar Project have selected toys, sports equipment and school supplies to send to the Rift Valley Children’s Village during December. This annual service project provided the Caterpillars with lessons in smart shopping, math and budgeting…as well as an opportunity to learn important life lessons and giving back.

While Project Promise’s primary mission has always been to improve the lives of at-risk youth on St. Croix, the organization’s impact goes far beyond our island’s shores. “We believe,” Shearn said, “that it is important for our youth to understand that they’re part of a larger community, the global community. We want them to know they have the ability to do good in the world and help others, regardless of their personal circumstances.”

When Project Promise launched Toys for Tanzania, Shearn envisioned going there to visit the orphanage in person at the end of the eight-year initiative. On July 27, after a two-day journey, she arrived at the remote village of Oldean, Tanzania.

She brought with her gifts that were purchased in December by the Caterpillars as well as additional items made possible by a $200 donation from St. Croix-based The Ethiopian World Federation Inc., Local No. 5. Project Promise’s Board of Directors and Staff also contributed towards the purchase of additional toys and needed items earmarked for the epic journey.

“The visit was amazing!” Shearn said. “Being able to personally deliver these gifts was incredible. While there, I toured the facility, met with the caregivers and interacted with the children. Meeting the kids that we have been supporting for so many years was a full circle moment and a dream come true.”

Despite the fact the Toys for Tanzania initiative has come to an end, Project Promise vows to continue to support the children of the Rift Valley Children’s Village for many more years to come.

This journey was made possible in part with support from TEAM Consultants.

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