Graduating Law Student Provides Scholarships to Tanzanians Through Nonprofit He Founded

Lide Paterno and five Tanzanian students celebrate their graduation from secondary school.

Third-year law student Lide Paterno stands with Tanzanian students as they celebrate their graduation from secondary school in 2013. The students are now at universities across the country and are studying to become teachers, engineers and doctors.

May 11, 2015

When Lide Paterno graduates this month from the University of Virginia School of Law, he'll be leaving higher education to begin a federal clerkship. Meanwhile, dozens of students in Tanzania will be entering the next phase of their education with help from the nonprofit organization he founded.

Paterno is president of Tumaini Tanzania , or "Hope Tanzania," which he co-founded in 2007 with Chris Colquitt '11 and 2012 Darden School of Business graduate Bennett Graham, among other friends. The organization currently provides scholarships and other support to about 80 students pursuing higher education in the East African country. In 2014, the group raised approximately $70,000 for scholarships to help students in secondary schools, teachers' colleges and universities.

"Princeton-in-Africa had assigned me to work for a U.S.-based organization that supported schools in northern Tanzania," Paterno said. "Shortly after I arrived, however, I learned that the U.S. nonprofit had since left the area because of some misunderstandings over property. Thankfully, I had had a few broken-English email exchanges with a local teacher at the primary school in the village, and she arranged for me to live at the school."

Paterno taught English and math. He also began to blog about his time in the community.

Paterno, a Princeton University graduate, first traveled to Tanzania in 2006 as a fellow with Princeton-in-Africa.

Lide Paterno with three Tanzanian students
Davis Mahon '15 with Tumaini students at a secondary school the group partners with.

"Friends, and eventually friends-of-friends-of-friends, started reading along, and someone I didn't know sent a check to my parents with a request that the funds support a few of the brilliant students I had written about who wouldn't be able to attend secondary school because their families couldn't afford the fees," he said. "Nine years later, that first group of students is now in university and helping to lead the organization themselves."

Paterno said the students have inspired his own educational development.

"My experience in Tanzania in large part prompted me to enroll in law school, and these students continue to motivate me; it has been an absolute joy and privilege for me to celebrate the graduations of several of these students while I work towards my own graduation later this month," he said.

Over spring break, fellow third-year law students Davis Mahon and Ryan Dollar joined Paterno on his annual trip to the country. Mahon had assisted the organization since he and Paterno became friends in their first year, but had never traveled to Tanzania before.

"A short walk in the village would become a journey because each time another member of the community would stop Lide and update him on a family member that had been helped by Tumaini," Mahon said.

Paterno said his network of supportive friends in the U.S. and his Tanzanian friends who run the project in-country deserve ample credit for helping to keep the organization going.

Paterno's experience prior to UVA Law includes work as a paralegal and analyst at the U.S. Department of State (in Washington, D.C., and at posts in sub-Saharan Africa) and as a child advocate at the Council for Children's Rights in Charlotte, N.C. Following graduation, he will clerk for Judge Paul V. Niemeyer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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