Thomas Long , associate professor, education, was featured in a Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.) article about his trip to Tanzania and the T-shirt donation project he started as a result. Agnes Nagy-Rado , assistant professor, education, also is quoted in the article. Nagy-Rado is helping Long with the project. See their comments in the story below.
|Thomas Long has started the 'T-shirt Project' to help clothe poor children|
From: The Gazette Date: July 18, 2007 Author: Bradford Pearson After nearly a month in the African nation of Tanzania, Thomas Long came back in June to his Bethesda home 20 pounds lighter than when he left, due in part to a bout with malaria.
But he also came back with an idea.
In an effort to help the poor nation, Long is attempting to start what he calls the ''T-shirt Project." He hopes to send 3,000 shirts to Tanzania, where the per capita income is only $700 per year.
Long, the director of special education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., traveled to Tanzania for the month of June to teach the rural poor at an academy founded by a member of the Brothers of Charity, an international Catholic organization based in Belgium that works worldwide with disabled people, the mentally ill and children of the streets.
While in Tanzania, Long noticed children whose clothes were in tatters, and the only shirts they owned were on their backs.
''The area was even poorer than I thought it would be," Long said. ''Looking at those kids, I knew I had to do something."
After teaching courses on special education, disabilities and dysfunctional psychology, Long, a psychologist, left the African nation with hardly any money left, and very little clothing in his bag.
Long taught at the Newman Institute for Social Work, a technical school in Tanzania where students were working toward degrees similar to a bachelor's degree.
He had donated his money to help pay for a few months of electricity at the school, and his clothes were now in the hands of someone in Kigoma, the area where he taught.
Upon his return to the United States, Long got the idea to send T-shirts back to Tanzania.
''I thought to myself, 'What would it be like to send a T-shirt to every kid?'" he said. ''People print T-shirts for various events around the county all the time, and there are tons of them in storage somewhere I'm sure."
While the project is still in its infancy - he only returned from Africa the last week of June - Long has already recruited others to help. The first place he went was to the Catholic University community, where he convinced a colleague to help with the clothing drive.
''I'm from Hungary, so I've seen the minority children there suffer similarly, with poor clothing," said Agnes Nagy-Rato, assistant professor in Catholic's Education Department. ''I said [to Long] we should put in as much money as we can ourselves and work from there."
The pair decided that there are two prongs to the project: Collect T-shirts and money. Long already has friends lined up to help pay for the shipping of the T-shirts, and has a cousin in the T-shirt business who could buy shirts for $1.18 a piece.
Ideally, though, Long hopes to have the shirts donated.
''Every shirt we get for free is more money we can save for shipping," he said. ''Just getting the materials over there is a chore."
To help transport the shirts, Long approached the Brothers of Charity, who have more connections in Tanzania than he does. One of the brothers located in Washington, D.C., is from Tanzania, and will be returning to his homeland later this year.
''We work with very poor families, and some children whose parents died of HIV," Brother Willbrod Lukamilwa said. ''I think this project will be great. There are many needs [in Tanzania]."
As for a return trip to hopefully see his shirts in action, Long is still on the fence.
''I've already recruited one colleague (Nagy-Rato) to go to Tanzania," Long said. ''When I first came back I didn't think I would return, but after a few weeks home, I just might."
To donate to the T-shirt Project, call Dr. Thomas J. Long at 202-319-5809 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Checks can be made payable to: Brothers of Charity⁄T-shirt Project, and sent to Long at The Catholic University of America, 222 O'Boyle Hall, Washington, D.C. 20064.