Our Mission

We provide education for needy children and orphans and hope for communities in Tanzania, East Africa. Children may either be fully sponsored or receive a scholarship to attend a Catholic primary school, secondary school, or post-secondary school education. The students receive tuition for the academic year and room and board, which is particularly beneficial for orphans. Sponsored students learn in English starting in grade school – a good foundation to become leaders in their communities.

Children of Hope and Faith also:

  • Supports Angel Home Orphanage in the Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara
  • Helps with special projects within the community

Our History

Our Start

Children of Hope and Faith began in 2004 in Champaign, Illinois, with the sponsorship of three children at the St. Peter Claver grade school in Tanzania, East Africa. Father Johndamaseni Zilimu, a diocesan priest from Tanzania, and Jane Walsh, a parishioner at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign, Illinois, began to work together with a desire to help orphans.

At the time, Fr. John was studying mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and doing pastoral care work at St. John Catholic Newman Center on campus. Meanwhile, Jane had been sponsoring children for 20 years and felt that God wanted her to do more to help orphans. Before he came to the University to study, Fr. John had brought two destitute children to live with his father in Tanzania. This made a total of six children under his father’s care and Fr. John promised to take care of their education, with faith in God’s Providence. Initially, a local Catholic boys’ club had an annual “Ride for Hope” event to raise funds for the children’s tuition.

In November 2005, Fr. John and Jane met with the Bishop of the Rulenge-Ngara Diocese, Severine Niwemugizi, (Fr. John’s Bishop) and established Children of Hope and Faith.

Three years later, Pope Benedict XVI split the Rulenge Diocese in two to form both the Rulenge-Ngara and Kayanga Dioceses. Bishop Almachius Vincent Rweyongeza is the Bishop of the Kayanga Diocese. We work with both diocesan offices to coordinate our activities. You can be assured that your support directly benefits orphans, children from poor families and communities.

Children of Hope and Faith is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization.


Today, Children of Hope and Faith sponsors more than 150 children at schools across the area. We provided funding for construction and continue to support the Angel Home Orphanage, where the Franciscan Sisters of St. Bernadette provide care for up to 60 children ranging in age from infants to teenagers, with the hope of a sponsorship to attend a Catholic grade school or high school. Orphans return home to the orphanage during school vacations.

Children of Hope and Faith helps each individual child to reach their full potential. Students have the unique opportunity to continue their education upon graduation from secondary (high) school. Depending on their academic ability and career interests, they can learn a trade at a technical school or attend college. The cost of higher education in Tanzania is not more than twice the cost of secondary education and enables the children to gain employment and break the cycle of poverty.

One of the aims of Children of Hope and Faith is for our sponsored children to become leaders and to give back to the communities where they grew up. In recent years we have seen our mission come full circle. Young people have returned to their communities to serve as priests, nurses, teachers, and health care professionals. We are impacting the next generation as some of our sponsored students have married and are able to provide for their families.

We support projects to help schools and communities with necessities including water, solar energy for electricity, health care, and construction of classrooms and dormitories.

Please consider helping us to continue our work by sponsoring a child or supporting one of our special projects.

Sponsored Children Tuition in 2023
$ 0
Projects Funded in 2023
$ 0

Our Patron Saint

St. Josephine Bakhita

On February 8, 2006 Children of Hope and Faith was at a crossroads. Would it go forward or be unable to develop into a charitable organization? It was the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita, known for being an African saint. Her intercession was sought. Problems were solved and she became our Patron Saint!

Josephine Bakhita was born about 1869 in southern Sudan, Africa. She was abducted from her home and sold into slavery when she was nine years old. Her name “Bakhita” was actually given to her by one of her captors. It means “the lucky one”; a cruel joke given she was a slave. She suffered beatings, whipping, and a painful form of tattooing made with incisions and salt. She was eventually sold to an Italian vice-consul and brought to Italy. She became a nanny for Mimmina, a child of a wealthy woman. They were both boarded at the convent of the Daughters of Charity of Canossa in Venice to be instructed in the Catholic faith. When the “owner” came to retrieve them, Josephine refused to leave. She did not want to risk losing God by leaving the convent. She was baptized and lived over 50 years as a Canossian sister.

St. Josephine once said, “If I were to meet the slave traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and religious today.” Josephine was sent at times to travel around Italy to encourage support for the missions and vocations even though she desired to return to Africa to help convert her own people. When she was home in the convent, she worked as a cook, seamstress, sacristan and, eventually, as a portress. Her work at the door of the convent brought her into contact with those outside – the poor, the ill, and stories of miracles began to be told. Her life ended in 1947 after four years of grievous illness which she bore with patience and cheerfulness.

Josephine Bakhita was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. In his Encyclical Saved In Hope, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted her as a modern day saint who exemplifies the virtue of hope.

I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!

Favorite Prayer of St. Josephine Bakhita

Be good, Love the Lord,
Pray for those who do not know God,
What a great grace it is to know God!

About Tanzania

Brief History

Until 1885, chiefs of over 130 tribes with different languages ruled the Tanzania mainland (Tanganyika). From 1885 until the First World War, Tanzania mainland was a German Colony. After Germany lost the war, Tanganyika came under the British as a United Nations trusteeship. The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and the Islands of Zanzibar. Tanganyika and Zanzibar obtained their independence from the British in 1961 and 1963, respectively. They united in 1964 to form Tanzania.

“Father of the Nation”

The nation was blessed with a very strong Catholic President, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, after independence in 1961. He stressed unity among the 125 different tribes and established Swahili as the national language. He also encouraged the citizens of Tanzania to greet each other as brothers in the marketplace.

The Capital of Tanzania was Dar Es Salaam from Independence until the 1980s, when it was changed to Dodoma, in the center of Tanzania. President Julius Nyerere wanted to develop Dodoma because the inhabitants were considered very poor and remote. Dar Es Salaam is a large city of business and commerce.

President Nyerere was for the poor, marginalized and the orphaned. People in Tanzania refer to him as the “Father of the Nation”. He is now designated a Servant of God in the canonization process.

Angel Home Orphanage

A Safe Haven for Orphaned Children

The Franciscan Sisters of St. Bernadette operate Angel Home Orphanage for the Rulenge-Ngara Diocese. Prior to our contribution, the sisters had to disperse orphans before school age due to a lack of resources.

These children had no hope of an education.

COHF expanded the orphanage and now the sisters can provide a home and care for the children who – we hope – will be sponsored in Catholic schools.

The orphanage can accommodate up to 60 children. They range in age from infants to older students in higher education. Children are usually sponsored at St. Bonaventure Primary School and then at one of the local Catholic secondary schools: St. Alfred Secondary, St. Charles Lwanga Junior Seminary, St. Clare Girls’ Secondary or St. Joseph Secondary. COHF has built a new home for older students who are now in post-secondary school education including technical schools and colleges. All the children return to the orphanage when school is not in session.

Our Schools

Hope for the Future!

Children of Hope and Faith supports students at six main Catholic schools, all of which teach in English. Students fluent in English have a better chance at succeeding and reaching their full potential. Students may also attend government schools for upper level secondary school (Form V and Form VI) or post-secondary school education.

About our Partner Schools

Schools in the Rulenge-Ngara Diocese

Schools in the Kayanga Diocese

Board of Directors


Fr. Johndamaseni Zilimu

Co-Founder and Vice President of Communications with Tanzania

Fr. Johndamaseni Zilimu (Fr. John) is a diocesan priest from the northwest region of Tanzania. He felt a call to the priesthood when he was 13 years old and attended high school seminary. After high school seminary he continued with college seminary and was ordained on August 13, 1995. Fr. John earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome in 1995. He came to the Diocese of Peoria in 2000 to do campus ministry through St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to his work as a priest, Fr. John continued his education and earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2004, Master of Science in Mathematics in 2006 and a doctorate in Mathematics Education in 2014, all from the University of Illinois. What has given him the greatest joy in his priesthood is helping people who are most in need. One way he has done this is through Children of Hope and Faith that he and Jane Walsh cofounded in 2004. Fr. John has served as parochial vicar and pastor at several parishes in the Peoria Diocese, chaplain at St. Luke Medical Center, Kewanee and vicar forane of the Kewanee Vicariate. Fr. John is currently the pastor at St. Matthew Church in Champaign.

Jane Walsh

Co-Founder and President

Jane Walsh earned a doctorate in Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1986 and did postdoctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a few years of scientific research, she, and her husband Michael, decided to stay in Champaign to raise their family. For more than twenty years they supported sponsorship to provide children with educational opportunities. In 2003, Jane felt a strong call to help orphans. She and Fr. John cofounded Children of Hope and Faith and in 2004 they began the sponsorship of three children in Tanzania. Jane is an active member of St. Matthew Church in Champaign as a lector and Eucharistic Minister. She enjoys being with her grandchildren, hiking, and the outdoors.

Board of Directors

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