Fighting Childhood Cancer in Tanzania

Samweli Hassani is now a happy, healthy 14 year-old. But just a few years ago his life was in grave danger.

These days, Samwel (pictured above) spends his days doing what most healthy 14-year-old boys do in Tanzania: he goes to school, plays football at recess and does his chores. Samweli and his mother, Martha Onesimo, enjoy these moments, smiling as they go about their normal routine. They cherish this routine because things haven’t always been this way.

When Samweli was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL), everything changed. Martha worried all the time. Samweli wondered if he would ever play football again.

In children, BL commonly grows in the form of a large tumor in areas where permanent teeth are forming, which means it can be mistaken for a common toothache. These disfiguring tumors grow quickly and can be fatal. Thankfully, Martha was able to get Samweli to a clinic quickly, and was given life-saving treatment.

Children in Tanzania continue to suffer from this largely preventable disease, many because treatment is too far or too expensive to access. You’re changing this reality.

Improving health while fighting poverty

One of the most exciting parts of bringing together the work of Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health is the opportunity to improve the health of people living in poverty, while also helping those same people lift themselves out of poverty for good.

Selemani Hamij and his family are perfect examples of how your support makes that happen. Selemani is 5 years-old and was diagnosed with BL. He received six weeks of intensive chemotherapy for BL as a part of our program.

Selemani Hamij is a smiling, healthy child after receiving treatment for Burkitt's Lymphoma


Children in Tanzania are still dying from this largely treatable disease simply because they cannot afford care. Thanks to you, not only is Selemani now cancer-free, he and his parents can access psychosocial support during his weekly treatments. And because this program, started by IMA World Health, is in an area where Lutheran World Relief runs projects to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty, Selemani’s community can benefit from both life-saving and life-changing support.

“We want to surround communities like Selemani’s with the kind of comprehensive care that can only happen when we combine IMA's public health expertise and Lutheran World Relief's livelihoods and emergency response expertise,” says President and CEO Daniel Speckhard. “We will have a much greater impact together than we ever could have apart to end extreme poverty and hunger, and build healthy communities.”

Let's create stronger, healthier communities together!

This is just one example of how Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health will work together to improve health and help families lift themselves out of poverty. You are an important part of this work! Your support makes what we do possible. Thank you! We are excited to see what great things God does through your continued support.