A letter from Peter Ash, Founder and CEO of UTSS
As I sit down to write this annual Christmas letter and reflect on this past year at Under The Same Sun, I am filled with gratitude and a heart full of hope. This season reminds us of the power of love, resilience, and the unwavering human spirit, and there is no better story to illustrate this than the remarkable journey of Manyashi.
Many of you may remember Manyashi from our earliest days in Tanzania. He was just a young boy when I first met him in 2008. Manyashi and his family were among the very first families I encountered during my initial visit to the region.
When I first heard the heart-wrenching tragedy that befell his family, it shook me to the core. He not only lost his sister, but he also witnessed the brutal murder, a sight no child should ever endure. If he himself had been seen, he might have met the same gruesome fate that claimed his sister.
I vividly recall that first trip, how he clung to me and wouldn’t let go when we visited his school. We formed an instant bond, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to walk alongside Manyashi through his primary school years, then secondary school, and now, as he enters his second year of university, studying law.
When asked why he aspires to be a lawyer, Manyashi’s answer is nothing short of inspiring. He wants to ensure that people receive justice. Despite the grave injustices he and his family have endured—losing his sister in such a heinous manner and being separated from his family and community for his own safety—Manyashi has chosen to be a beacon of hope, light, and justice for others.
I am reminded of the words from the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Manyashi’s journey is a testament to the truth of this verse. He has not been overcome by the darkness of his past, but he continues to shine with hope, courage, and determination.
This August, during our Summer Camp, Manyashi received a special new magnifying device that will greatly assist him in his studies. Dr. Becky, our eye specialist, carefully selected Manyashi as the recipient of this invaluable tool. There was two criteria Dr. Becky had in her selection process: the student needed to have a more severe visual impairment and be in a field of study that requires extensive reading. Manyashi, now pursuing law, met these criteria.
I was there when Dr. Becky presented Manyashi with the device, and I’ll never forget the joy in his eyes. As she showed him how to use the technology, he suddenly stood up and gave me a bear hug. It was a moment that reaffirmed the importance of the work we do and the impact it has on individual lives.
Manyashi’s joy and thankfulness at receiving this visual aid was probably greater than many children at Christmas time when opening presents. His gratitude shone brightly and was a reminder of the tremendous impact that your support and our collective efforts can have.
Manyashi’s story is a testament to the immense hardships that people with albinism often face, but it’s also a testament to the strength of the human spirit. He is not imprisoned by fear, but instead, he continues to move forward with hope, courage, and determination. It has been an honour to support him and see his light grow brighter.
Today I am asking for your help. In order to continue bringing hope for the future to students like Manyashi, we need your generous gift this Christmas. We have so much in comparison to our kids in Tanzania.
Can I ask you to stop for a moment and seriously consider a generous donation to enable us to continue our life saving work. We need to protect, feed, clothe, educate, and care for in every way hundreds of students like Manyashi. You can make a gift by clicking here. Thanks to a generous donor, all donations made in December will be matched to double your impact!
We are so grateful for your unwavering support, dedication and generosity to our mission and wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season.
With my warmest regards,
Founder and CEO