I was born in Arusha, Tanzania. When I was three my mom passed away due to malaria. When I was four I met my soon-to-be-adoptive parents who came to Tanzania on a mission trip with Young Life in the summer of 2006. I first met their son, my now-brother David, and later was introduced to Drew and Susan, my parents.
A spark and connection continued to grow between us, and they came back to Tanzania every year–sometimes twice a year–to support me and sponsor my education. They sent me to a boarding school there, which is how I was able to learn English. That’s also where my love of soccer grew.
I came to the states for the summer at age 10 and 11, and when I turned 12, I moved here permanently and started sixth grade at Tampa Prep. We started my two-year adoption process here, and it was finalized in 2016. From there we worked on citizenship which was completed in fall 2018.
Living two completely different lives allowed me an appreciation for both the little and big things in life. I am thankful for every blessing, and have always dreamed of sharing my blessings, specifically with the kids and my family in my village in Tanzania. The idea of building a soccer stadium seemed like the perfect way to give my village a gift they could continue to enjoy and a way for the kids to have passion for the game in a safe environment.
I had a naive mindset at the beginning of my soccer stadium project. I didn’t realize it would require this amount of money, collaboration or effort. My parents were keen on having me find an organization that could give a helping hand to my efforts, which led me to working with Love Futbol. I created a proposal for my field of dreams, and they accepted it. I remember at one of the meetings to discuss the specifics of the field and the amount we were going to need to raise, they said $115,000–and I just wanted to go back to bed. I was very nervous. But the thing with dreams is that you might as well dream big. The rest will work itself out.
I built the project website, and began raising money in December of 2018. It had a slow start, but Tampa Prep’s Joe Fenlon (Associate Head of School and Head of the Middle School), Kevin Plummer (Head of School), Carl Carlson (Head of the Upper School) and other administrators allowed me to involve the school community, and that was a big boost to the project. They helped with connections to news media outlets, and the students shared it on social media. Slowly but surely I started getting donations that pushed me ahead. I really like the sense of community that I’ve gotten here from year one in sixth grade. I appreciate the faculty and how caring they are toward their students. They help them strive for success, not just academically but also emotionally and personally for their desires and goals. I really appreciate being able to be in a community where you’re not just a number, you’re a part of something. And everyone cares for everyone.
Even my art teacher, Ms. Ashworth was so supportive. She helped make pins and all the proceeds went to the project. I appreciate the fact that she’s easy to talk to. I can talk to her about anything. She’s really good at understanding where I’m coming from, when I need help and just my situation overall. She’s been there for me the longest.
In November 2019 I finally completed the fundraising goal of $115K, then surpassed our goal and raised $125K thanks to generous donors.
The project had already begun construction, so in November I flew to Tanzania and was a part of the official inauguration of the field, and celebrated with the kids. I still recall the noises and smiles and cheers the kids had. I could see in their eyes how happy and grateful and appreciative they were to be able to play on the kind of field they see professional players on. It was a dream come true for me and for them. That was so far one of the most beautiful moments and days of my life.
We keep in touch with the village, and Love Futbol is still working with the community leaders responsible for watching over the field for anything that needs to be maintained. The kids were playing a lot on it while I was there, and club teams were developing. It has really become a landmark for the village as a new complex that brings joy and activity.
Through all of this, the most important thing I’ve learned is the value of a network. Being able to meet people from all over the place and create a network that will help benefit your life now and in the future, both emotionally and however those connections can help is so beneficial. I have that in Tanzania, with Love Futbol, at Tampa Prep and will someday have a network as a college alumnus. There’s no bad side to having a large and diverse network.
Jordan is also interested in
Ms. Elle Ashworth on Jordan
I think one of the first impressions that I ever had of Jordan was that he was so humble yet so charismatic. He has this way about him of making whomever he’s with feel comfortable. I would call him an old soul.
He’s also a super talented artist. I’ve taught him since sixth grade in 2D and 3D art. He’s currently working on sculpting birds from the region he is from in Africa for his AP work. He did research on the birds, then drew them in CAD (Morphi) for all his ideation, then he sculpts the birds using sculpey, a polymer clay.
I think one of the things that connected us is that I always asked him to tell me about his culture, how things operated where he was from, what his customs were and what things were important to him. I think it’s because of that conversational journey he and I had been on that he chose to use something reflective of his environment back home–nature and birds–for his AP project.
When Jordan told me early on that he was doing this field project to create the futbol field at home, I knew that he would do it with flying colors. He’s just that kind of person who sees things from start to finish. I knew he would embrace all the steps along the way. That’s why he’s an old soul. He intuitively understands that sometimes you have to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and keep going. That’s who Jordan is through his life experiences. And he’s a wicked funny guy. Jordan and I use a lot of humor. There’s always humor happening.