After working with street children for years, Tabitha Martin dreamt of a place where kids would come to take care of each other by growing their own crops and raising their own livestock: a self-sufficient orphanage. Tabitha spent her excess salary helping children in Kibondo, Tanzania, recover from severe malnutrition and rehabilitate those suffering from the difficult memories of homelessness and war.

Once a week she bought the children a cup of milk and bowl of rice. She purchased sports equipment like soccer and volley balls to distract them from the dangerous street life of rural Africa. Tabitha Martin was a “mother” for some of the most disadvantaged children in the world. But when the relief agencies pulled out, Tabitha was forced to leave Kibondo.

Two months before she left in 2008, she met Jake Gentry and Suzanne Fossum while they were doing fieldwork for Jake's thesis, Refugee Impacts on Host Communities in Western Tanzania.  During an interview for the research project, Tabitha told Jake about her concept for a sustainable orphanage.  Over the next ten days, Tabitha, Suzanne, and Jake discussed what a sustainable orphanage could do for the children, their communities, and their developing countries - and Orphans to Ambassadors began.

Jake and Suzanne hitching a ride in Kasulu, Tanzania.

Jake and Suzanne hitching a ride in Kasulu, Tanzania.

In the summer of 2009, the first board of directors was established. Two families in particular provided exceptional emotional encouragement and financial support. With that support, the Biggs-Dore family and Burt family helped get the project off the ground.

In 2010, Orphans to Ambassadors began implementing sustainable technologies in orphanages throughout the world. We have developed a small farm for No More Tears in Kamakwie, Sierra Leone, energy projects in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and will be bringing a solar-powered computer lab to Cameroon in the fall of 2014.