The Mary Ryan Foundation (MRF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide relief and assistance to impoverished communities within Tanzania, specifically by supporting orphans and children living in the most difficult environments within those communities. The Mary Ryan Foundation was initially formed out of a need identified by Michelle Santoro, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the village of Ilembo, Tanzania from 2008-2010. Inspired by what Michelle was doing, a committed group of friends and family in the US came together to turn words into action by forming a non-profit that would dedicate itself to giving these underserved children a chance to continue their education, and with that, an opportunity to improve their quality of life and create better futures for themselves and their families. The Mary Ryan Foundation is named after Michelle's grandmother, "Mommom," because of the love she had for all children.
Mike McMahon Vocational School
With the help of the MRF the community designed a vocational program that gives out of school youth valuable business skills of tailoring, carpentry and masonry; and constructed a vocational school (The Mike McMahon Center for Children) to ensure there is enough room to accommodate the growing number of students who wish to attend.
Since 2009, the MRF has: identified the most vulnerable children of Ilembo by mobilizing motivated leaders in the community to form an Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Committee; sponsored Secondary School tuition and educational materials for over 120 students in Ilembo; improved the communication between teachers, students and their families through regular monthly meetings; offered trainings targeting orphans and out of school youth in HIV/AIDS awareness, entrepreneurship, budgeting, and life skills; formed peer education and community theatre groups who have taught or performed in over ten villages; designed a vocational program that gives out of school youth valuable business skills of tailoring, carpentry and masonry; and constructed a vocational school (The Mike McMahon Center for Children) to ensure there is enough room to accomodate the growing number of students who wish to attend. Although Michelle's Peace Corps service is over, the MRF continues to work with the current Peace Corps Volunteer, OVC Committee, village, ward and district leaders to monitor current projects and identify new areas of intervention.