An Interview with Herry
Pastor Herry Laizer is the founder and Director of Home of Hope Foundation. Belinda Robb from PROJECT NEEMA asked Herry a few questions about his life growing up in Ngaramtoni and why he has devoted his life to helping his community.
What was life like for you growing up in Ngaramtoni?
I was born into a family of 6 children (5 boys, 1 girl). Both of my parents are Maasai, born in different villages. My father is from Olevolos in Ngaramtoni and my mother is from Olturoto near Arusha town.
When I was 4 years old my father got a work transfer to a small village called Olokii out of Arusha town. He took a second wife there and started a new family. Because of his new family he did not come home to Olevolos and he stopped supporting us. From then on life was hard for my family and we endured much suffering.
When I was 10 years old my mother sent me to government school. After my primary education I didn’t go to secondary level because my mother didn’t have the money to pay my school fees. I came back to the village and started to grow vegetables and at the same time I began volunteering as a Sunday school teacher in our church as well as preaching in the village and educating people. After 2 years I left the village and went to Ngaramtoni town to join with my friends and learn carpentry. I worked there for some years and in 1995 I met a beautiful Maasai girl and married her one year later.
We returned to live in Olevolos in Ngaramtoni because it is my home and it is the place all my family live and also I love my community and I want to serve them. To do this I became the Pastor of our church, attended Bible College, and then established Home of Hope Foundation.
Why did you become a Pastor?
From when I was a child my heart was touched with teaching and preaching and educating my community about some bad things which are oppressing the women and children of our community. To serve people is hard because you will use even the little you have for others. But for me, it is a part of my life to share with others what I have and I am very happy to be a Pastor and I love my work. I also believe God has chosen me to serve his people.
Why did you establish Home of Hope Foundation?
As a Pastor I serve members at the church but I am not satisfied with only this because I want to serve my whole community. Not everyone comes to our church because of religious barriers or beliefs; that is why I decided to establish Home of Hope to meet with anybody who needs me. This is also why I don’t wear a suit on weekdays. I don’t want to be a special person; I want to be accessible to everyone.
Why does Home of Hope Foundation focus on women and children?
When I was a little boy my mother told me stories about her and other women in the village. She told me what their husbands were doing to them and showed me bruises on her body from my father beating her. Also I remember that I wasn’t able to study past primary school because my father ran away and left us suffering with our mom. And also my mom was always asking me a question at the end of her stories: “what would happen if your father runs away and I run too, would you live or die?” She was always telling me the woman is the pillar of the house and she would die for her children. That makes me focus on children and women because you can’t separate them. They will live or die together. If you give anything to a woman it will go to the family but if you give to the man very little will go to the family (not all men!). Even all over the world if anything happens the people who don’t have help are women and children.
Why do you think it is important to build a primary school in Ngaramtoni?
Building a primary school in Ngaramtoni will help the children to get a good education because the only children who get quality education in our community are the rich people’s children; the poor go to overcrowded government schools which they teach only in Swahili. So a primary school will help Home of Hope to reach its goal of sending many children from poor families to a better school where they can gain a good education. So in the future I will be happy to have these children help me in serving the community.
Why do you think education is important?
At the time of independence, our former president declared war against 3 enemies of our nation: Ujinga, Umaskini and Maradhi (Ignorance, Poverty and Disease). According to my understanding, education is the answer to overcoming all of these. If the people are educated they will wash their hands and will not get stomach problems. If the kids go to school they will get good jobs and they will be able to support their families.
Is there anything else that the people of the world should know about the Home of Hope Foundation and your community?
I want the world to know that to help and support Home of Hope is to help the community of Ngaramtoni. There are many children who need to go to a good school. There are many women who need help to start a business to support their families. There are also many girls who need to get life skills to help them to earn a living. These are just some of the challenges that we face here in Ngaramtoni that, through Home of Hope, I am trying to address.
To help us support the Home of Hope Foundation you can donate here. Thank you!