By Meghann Gunderman, TFFT’s Founder and Executive Director
Lou Corse was someone very dear to The Foundation For Tomorrow. I remember meeting Lou four years ago. She lived in Tanzania and had reached out to one of our team members, Alley Brindza, to host a holiday party where her guests would donate books, clothes, and toys for our children. From that initial introduction, Lou went on to donate her time, talents, and treasure to TFFT. She lost her fight against breast cancer last April, a battle she fought hard for years.
Last week marked a year since her passing, and I was reminiscing. I wanted to pay tribute to this special woman and all that she gave TFFT by sharing her story on this blog, but it is difficult to put into words all that she gave to our organization. I decided to start reading through some of Lou’s old, encouraging emails. (For those of you who don’t know me, I keep ALL of my emails.) Her many “darlings” and the way she always ended her emails with “xx” “love, much love, lots of love” brought smiles and tears to my face. She was always warm and welcoming; she spent hours sitting under the big Usa River Academy tree reading to our children; she opened her home to create a sports day for our kids; she even lent her gardeners to help with our after-school Full Circle program to teach our kids about grafting avocados and healthy living. Lou would be there to help us with graphic design, accounting, or to lend us her car to shuttle our children back and forth to school at school break.
Most of all she was a motivator, an inspiration herself. I could sit on her veranda and just unload as she gave me insightful advice and a cup of tea. We would sit around her dinner table and game plan on how to strengthen our work or get more creative. Lou Corse was fully committed to leaving the world a better place than when she came to it. She gave her ear and her heart not only to our kids, but to our entire team, becoming close to many of them. She was so optimistic, and loved children and life.
She talked at length about how our kids put her life in perspective. “Every single day when I see the innocence and purity of those poor kids who can laugh and play and learn despite everything that has happened to them, it puts the pettiness of my life back into perspective.” “[I am] so delighted to be involved and so aware that every single day something joyous happens with those children, despite the hardship they have suffered and lack of familial love. We were clapping and singing out a beat whilst they were jiving. It was hysterical and made my day, week, and year.”
Last week, in Lou’s honor, her family launched a colorful and vibrant children’s book, MOLLY, written by Lou. She wrote the book in honor of her niece who died in a tragic accident nearly three years ago. Lou was very close to her niece Molly, and she wrote this book as an expression of her love for Molly. Sadly Lou passed before the book went to print but she would have been so proud to know that it has now been published. The Foundation For Tomorrow is excited to purchase copies for our children to read for years to come.
Lou’s legacy is strong, and Lou Lou, as our children called her, lives on under that tree and in the hearts of our 80+ students. Long after they graduate we want her legacy to continue, and this book will do a fantastic job of that.
TFFT is in the process of fundraising to build an Interactive Learning Center in Tanzania, encompassing our after-school initiatives as well as a library and computer center, Teachers Training, and Higher-Education counseling. In addition to serving our scholarship students and partners, making the facility available to the public, free of charge, will increase the reach to include a much larger population. Once complete, there will be reading room inside this center marking Lou’s love of reading and our children.
I know I speak for many when I say I feel blessed to have had the support and friendship of Lou over the years. Her desire to love care for our children will never be forgotten. Her generous nature and willingness to give so much of herself to The Foundation For Tomorrow will never be matched.
To purchase your copy of Molly, please visit this site.
Asante sana, Lou Lou!