Back story: Teberg, an associate professor in Whitworth University’s School of Education, is a breast cancer survivor. The experience taught her that “we never know how long we have. What you identify as important, don’t put it off.”
Teberg always loved the sound of the word Tanzania. Through People to People International, Teberg got the opportunity in June 2008 to travel to Tanzania, visiting schools and orphanages.
She fell in love with the country and its people.
In July 2009, she returned with Moses Pulei, who teaches in Whitworth’s theology department and was raised in Tanzania, and with John Yoder of the political science department.
They spent time in the city of Arusha in orphanages and at St. Margaret’s Academy.
In January 2010, Teberg returned yet again, with 10 students who helped at St. Margaret’s and lived with families for a month.
“When you come back, you have culture shock,” she said. “These are not sad, lonely and broke people. They love their lives.
“They say we are crazy and run in circles. They call us something that means ‘busy, busy, busy.’ Their phrase (for themselves) is ‘polepole,’ which means ‘slowly, slowly.’ “
The dream: Teberg’s plan came to her, dreamlike. She thought: “I am going to take some time off and go for three months. I have to do something in literacy. These children need books in their homes.”
Dream to reality: Teberg took a year’s leave of absence from Whitworth, which started last September. She built a website and fine-tuned her dream project, calling it Read With Me, Arusha!
On Jan. 23, she leaves again for Arusha. She will live there three months. She will give books to the orphanages. The books are in English, because children who understand English have more opportunities in education and in work.
Electricity sputters off and on in Arusha, making difficult Teberg’s dream for schoolchildren to read at night. So Teberg found a solar lamp sales rep in Arusha. She is buying 100 solar lamps, $21 each, to place in 100 Arusha homes.
“They can’t read at night now when they are off the grid,” Teberg said. “They do have candles and kerosene lamps, but (both) have dangerous fumes. And can you imagine reading by those in a mud hut?
“After eight hours of sunlight, the lamp will light up a room for 18 hours.”
Helpers: Teberg is raising the money for the lamps on her website, www.readwithmearusha.com, and donations have been vigorous.
Students in Brenda Schultheis’ third- and fourth-grade class at Colton Elementary Schoolwill become pen-pals to the St. Margaret’s students.
Two women’s groups, from Millwood Presbyterian Church and from the Greens at Midilome, a Spokane Valley housing development, are sewing dresses for girls at two Arusha orphanages and will send shorts and pants for the boys.
Advice: “Know what you love in your life and find ways to do that,” she said. “Keep your eyes open and little doors will open.”
Onto 2012: Teberg still doesn’t know where she’ll live in Arusha. She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to get all the books she hopes to Tanzania. But she is taking it “polepole” and has faith that her dream will continue to unfold.
She is sad to be leaving her two grown daughters, agrandsons, and another on the way.
But Teberg said: “Life-threatening illnesses change your knowledge of what’s important in life. The length of time we have, nobody knows. I can’t wait until I’m 67 to do this, because I don’t have a clue if I’ll still be here.”