For 20 years, Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministry has fought poverty, disease, and a lack of education half-a-world away.
It's efforts to save three children from a bus crash, last May, that killed 36 others, shined a global spotlight on their work. And, a woman, who did groundbreaking research on primates in Tanzania, noticed. "We can't give up," said Jane Goodall, Primatologist. Persistence is Goodall's trademark. The world-renowned primatologist spent decades studying chimpanzees in the jungles of Tanzania, and trying to save the species. "Jane Goodall was very moved by the 'miracle kids' story," said Steve Meyer, STEMM Founder. It was the rescue of those three children, critically-injured in a 2017 bus crash, in Tanzania, that got Goodall's attention. "Believe it, or not, Jane Goodall is a staunch creationist," said Meyer. "She talked to me about miracles that she had experienced in the jungle, so when we started talking about miracles, and how it relates to the 'miracle kids', she really understood that."
The 'miracle' for STEMM was getting the kids, Doreen, Sadhia and Wilson, from Tanzania, to Sioux City, for the life-saving treatment they needed. The kids are living in Tanzania, again. Last month, Goodall was there, as well, for the premiere of her Oscar-nominated documentary "Jane". She invited Meyer to join her. And, the next day, the group drove the half-hour to the STEMM orphanage, to meet the 'miracle kids', face to face. "Jane Goodall took those kids, and looked them in the eye, and grabbed them by the face and said, 'God saved you for a reason, don't ever forget that'," said Meyer.
Goodall's words are inspirational. But, the 83-year-old insists the meeting with the 'miracle kids' inspired her. "We've got to engage young people, we've got to give them hope, we've got to make everyone understand that what they do every day does make a difference," said Goodall. The lesson isn't lost on Meyer, or the organization he helped found. "She really motivated me to step it up one more notch," said said Steve Meyer, STEMM Founder.
Meyer, a self-proclaimed farm kid from Hartley, Iowa, says STEMM's ag endeavors are flourishing thanks to the addition of a new John Deere tractor. Meyer also found out, recently, that STEMM will get funding to build two more orphan houses. That will double the capacity at the orphanage in Tanzania.