Established in 2015
Hugs for Tanzania
The Motivation for the Mission
Hugs for Tanzania (HFT) was started in 2015 by Tyler Choi when he was a sophomore at the University of Buffalo (UB).
Tyler first traveled to Tanzania through a UB Study Abroad program in January 2014. Getting off the plane in Tanzania, he had no idea what to expect. He had only seen the realities of developing nations in documentaries. One day, Tyler describes seeing two three-year-old children gathering water. He watched them smile and laugh as they played in the filthy water, an image that stayed with him.
One of the most impactful individuals that Tyler during his trip was Peter, a native Tanzanian who served was serving as the trip's driver. Peter was a 32-year-old man who belonged to a tribe where the marrying age was 18. But to get married, the groom must exchange a cow for a wife.
Peter did not have the money to purchase the cow because he was supporting his younger siblings’ education. He never went to high school and became a driver so that his siblings could go to school instead.
Upon returning back to the United States, Tyler wanted to find a way to help people like Peter and the children he had seen playing in the water, leading him to start Hugs for Tanzania.
Returning Back To Tanzania
After his first trip to Tanzania in 2014, Tyler returned back in 2015, this time armed with school supplies.
Tyler decided to start by helping the primary school that he visited on his first trip to Tanzania in 2014. He made a promotional video (watch his promotional video before and after his trip below) and people donated more than 2,000 items school supplies. He also raised more than $1,000 that went to shipping the supplies to the school.
As he describes it, Tyler was “fascinated by how quickly the stars aligned.” Tyler spent days creating hundreds of individuals bags filled with pencils, pens, highlighters, eraser and snacks. He packed the items into a suitcase and on his second trip to Tanzania, he gave it to the principal of the elementary school.
Tyler's motivation and passion for changing the world has led to tangible impacts in communities both in Buffalo and abroad. If you're interested in learning more about his story, read more here.