Founded in 2010, in Sheboygan Falls, WI, Taraja is operated by a group of volunteers who believe that with a little help, most of the people trapped in poverty have the capacity to break free of poverty and help others do the same. Our founder, the Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva, is a living example of this possibility. A son of peasant parents in a remote village in Africa, he, with some help from people of good will, was able to work his way to graduate school and a successful career. We share his vision of seeing others like him realize their dreams of a life free from poverty.
The Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva is Taraja's founder and president. He founded Taraja in an effort to replicate his personal story. His poor peasant family had struggled to survive on a small parcel of land in northern Rwanda before they moved to Uganda in search of a better life when Samuel was three. As it turned out, life was not any easier in Uganda. The family moved from place to place until they settled in a very remote area of Uganda, where they found more land but where diseases, such as malaria, were rampant.
To get to school, Samuel walked six miles through the jungle, criss-crossing with wild animals. Despite these difficulties, Samuel was determined to break out of poverty by getting an education; he graduated second in his primary school. Meanwhile, his father worked hard and started a small retail business that enabled him to send Samuel to a private High School.
After High School, Samuel was accepted into college to pursue a diploma in accounting. Unfortunately, his parents had exhausted their resources paying his way through high school and could not afford to send him to college. Samuel ended up apprenticing as an auto mechanic. A year later, he found a job with a Tea Company in Rwanda. It was after fourteen years, Samuel was finally able to realize his dream of going to college after he received a scholarship from a UK Charity. Samuel graduated from Daystar University and then received another scholarship to attend the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. This position enabled him to support his family and others. Since then he has served as a pastor of churches in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Maryland. He has also been active in community service organizations such as Kiwanis, and the American Red Cross.
While still committed to the people and communities he serves in the United States, Samuel has not forgotten the plight of so many in the African Great Lakes region who struggle to overcome poverty. He is confident that through Taraja, many young people and their families will be able to break the cycle of poverty through education and micro-enterprise, mentoring, and networking.
Our Board of Directors
The Rev. Samuel Nsengiyumva, President
Mr. James Gettel, Vice President
The Rev. Mark Janzen, Secretary
Mrs. Linda Gregoire, Treasurer
Mr. Brock Brownrigg
Mrs. Joanne Howard