The Vaughan family-—Laura, Brannan and their three sons Sam, 13, Reid, 11 and Tate, 10—are technically Silicon Valley residents, although chances are you will find them on Safari or hiking around Mount Kilimanjaro National Park on any given day. Before their marriage, performed by a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Laura and Brannan explored the world, back- packing Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and parts of the Middle East. They later took their kids on similar adventures to Vietnam, Honduras, the Galapagos, Bolivia, Peru and Europe. In January 2015, they brought their boys to Africa for a semester abroad to experience Tanzanian culture and to find a service project to “give back” to the local community. Instead they found three, and are planning more in the near future.
The Vaughans chose Tanzania for its people, amazing wildlife, landscape, and more importantly, because they believe they can make an impact there. When they chose to come to Moshi, Tanzania the Vaughans had no idea what kind of service projects they would perform. They wanted it to be completely “Do-it-yourself” from the ground up. There is an existing NGO industry in East and South Africa that survives on volunteer-tourism, where people pay to come perform service for a specified duration, but it wasn’t a good fit for the family because the kids had to go to school. Also, Mount Kilimanjaro area has a long history of missionary work, great work, but the Vaughans had something tangible and personal in mind that each of the kids could relate to. Poverty is a huge problem here and a completely worthy cause, but it would be over-reaching to expect their 10-year old to solve it in 6 months. So they started fundamentally and ultimately ended up with “A bridge, a pipe, and lunch."