George Namkung is the Founder of Kids of Kilimanjaro, a non-profit foundation whose mission is to provide a school lunch program to pre-school and elementary school students in Tanzania, East Africa. A real-life do-GOODer!
SG: What inspired you to create Kids of Kilimanjaro?
GN: My defining moment came when I was leaving a classroom I had visited on my first trip to Tanzania. This cute five-year-old girl said, “May you have a long and happy life so that we may have another opportunity to meet again.” I was struggling between helping the kids in some way or not and when she said that, I knew there was no other option and I had to help them. This is how Kids of Kilimanjaro was born.
SG: What is your most memorable moment?
GN: We started providing lunch to a few hundred five- and six-year-old students who had beautiful brown eyes, gleaming white teeth and wide smiles. When I realized that these kids were now eating lunch for the first time. It was very memorable and satisfying knowing that they could now get an education as well as food.
SG: How will you know when you have succeeded?
GN: Many of the students we provided lunch to in 2005 are now graduating from elementary school and moving on to middle school. The graduation rate is near 100%. Lunch has been a magnet to attract and keep kids in school. Every year from now on more students will be moving on and the success we are witnessing will be never ending.