About Us

The Kingiti School Scholarship and Village Health Outreach Fund, aka The Kingiti Fund, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization consisting of project directors in the US and Tanzania that work together in the implementation of education, public health, and medical projects in central Tanzania. Our board members and US partners work for the organization strictly on a volunteer basis.  Below are brief descriptions of our project directors:

Dr. Ben Belknap was a Peace Corps Tanzania volunteer living in Kingiti village from 2007-2009.  As the village’s first volunteer, he was in a unique position to start projects confronting a number of village issues.  His projects ranged from those focused on food production and village-based income generation to HIV/AIDS education and medical care. He co-founded The Kingiti Fund in 2008 and is now an emergency medicine physician in New York City. He serves as the director, board member, and translator for The Kingiti Fund.

Matayo Oweya is The Kingiti Fund’s public health and medical project director. Matayo lives in Mpwapwa town and operates a small business in the local market. He is a long time Peace Corps volunteer fixer and general information guru in the district. Matayo is working with the Mpwapwa District Medical Officer and the hospital leadership at the Mpwapwa District Hospital to improve medical services in the district.

Laithon Mvili was born in Usolanga village, in the Iringa region of Tanzania, to farming parents with seven other children. Though his parent’s lack of wealth was typical of many families in the area, the achievements of their children reveals the extraordinary upbringing they provided. Laithon credits his Mother’s compassion for much of the children’s success as well as his Father’s strict work ethic as conveyed in the words he told his son, “One must work hard for himself or he will later be the slave of another.” Laithon moved to Kingiti village in 2003 to become the seventh grade teacher in the primary school. He enjoys managing a small retail business in Kingiti, praying at the Catholic church, and socializing in the village center when he has free time. His life has been a story of resilience and faith; on his wits he has overcome the incredible hindrances that stifle most people suffering from polio in a small farming village. Laithon Mvili is the director of The Kingiti Fund’s education project in the Kingiti Primary School, Kibakwe Secondary School, and Kigwe School for the Deaf.

Dr. Don Belknap has been a board certified emergency medicine doctor in the US for over 30 years, working primarily in community hospitals in Kentucky and New Mexico. Graduating from medical school in the early ‘80s, Don was part of one of the first classes of emergency medicine residents (University of Louisville). He has significant experience managing emergency departments, has served on the board of two hospitals in KY and NM, and has also served as director of county EMS ambulance services. When his son, Ben, was a Peace Corps volunteer he enjoyed helping out with medical supplies and thus began his work in Tanzania. Don serves as a medical project director and member of the Board of Directors for The Kingiti Fund.

Jimmy Newhall has lived and worked in Tanzania since 2007. He is currently an Infrastructure Advisor with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Jimmy was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 2007-2009 and has much experience managing small scale, village-based projects, as well as larger projects with the CDC. Since 2013, Jimmy serves as an advisor and member of the Board of Directors for The Kingiti Fund.

Angela Orend is passionate about education and has been on the Board of Directors of The Kingiti Fund since its founding in 2008. In her undergraduate program she participated in a field study in Kenya with the Pan-African studies honors department and became interested in finding ways to make education more accessible to those in remote villages in the region. Angela is currently an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Louisville, Jefferson Community & Technical College and Indiana University Southeast. She also works in marketing and volunteers as a Precinct Captain in her legislative district and is actively involved in issues of social justice. As a sociologist, Angela believes one of the key factors in bringing about social change and stability is active engagement with both the local and global community.

Thad Kerosky is a graduating Master’s student at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, coming into public policy and analysis from a background as an internet app developer. He has worked on new sustainable energy, agriculture, open data and education social enterprise and civic technology projects over the past decade, including as a Peace Corps Volunteer. The projects have been fairly evenly divided across Tanzania in East Africa, Liberia in West Africa, Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, MA. Thad serves as an advisor and member of the Board of Directors for The Kingiti Fund.

Dr. Karen Benabou is an emergency medicine physician in New York City. Originally from Brazil, Karen has much experience working in a variety of settings and a background in public health. She joined the Kingiti Fund Board of Directors in 2018 and has since made a large impact on the development of our medical projects.

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