Leaders of Tomorrow Orphanage, Tanzania
Pete O’Neal and his wife, Charlotte, are Local Heroes to orphaned children near Arusha, Tanzania. Before his life in Africa, Pete was the founder and Chairman of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panther Party. In 1970, the couple fled the United States and moved to Sweden and then to Tanzania in 1972 where they bought four acres of land to start a new life. At first, Pete thought his time in Tanzania would be temporary, but as the years passed, he began to feel it would be a more permanent home. In 1991, they founded the United African American Community Center (UAACC) for the purpose of providing arts enrichment and to promote closer cultural ties to communities in America and around the world.
As the O’Neals built their life, they continually observed all of the orphaned children in and around their village. Pete decided he wanted to open an orphanage to give some of the local children a better life and he started Leaders of Tomorrow. He began collecting donations and built a concrete-block bunkhouse near his tomato and pepper garden in the hills of Mt. Meru. He spread the word that he had room in the orphanage for few kids and more than 100 children appeared at his doorstep. Though he had to send the majority away, he informally adopted a couple dozen of the more desperate children. They call him “Babu” which means grandfather, and they roam his grounds playing games, being kids, and feeling safe knowing they have a place to sleep at night. Volunteers and a few staff watch over the children and give them English and computer lessons. Pete hopes to expand the children’s horizons and give them a sense of the world beyond their village. Read more about Pete O’Neal and his project with GO below.