Testimonial

The story of Gervas Ilomo

I grew up with my family in Iringa, in the south of Tanzania. We weren’t wealthy; there were times that I had to wait weeks at home until my dad would make enough money for me to go to school again. But I learned that no matter how dark life gets, the light will always return. It was especially difficult when my parents passed away a few years after each other and, as a first-born, I had to take care of my three siblings. However, I did not give up. I remained strong for my family and continued with my studies.

Gervas Ilomo, MSc student Animal Sciences, combined grant Anne van den Ban Fund and Future Animal Nutrition Africa Fund
This grant will not benefit only me; the knowledge I will gain here in Wageningen is going to impact thousands of people.
Gervas Ilomo, MSc student Animal Sciences, combined grant Anne van den Ban Fund and Future Animal Nutrition Africa Fund

I grew up with my family in Iringa, in the south of Tanzania. We weren’t wealthy; there were times that I had to wait weeks at home until my dad would make enough money for me to go to school again. But I learned that no matter how dark life gets, the light will always return. It was especially difficult when my parents passed away a few years after each other and, as a first-born, I had to take care of my three siblings. However, I did not give up. I remained strong for my family and continued with my studies.

I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in Morogoro with a loan from the Tanzanian government. I was lucky; not everyone gets this chance and university is too expensive for the average Tanzanian family. After my degree I worked as a quality control in the feed mill and research assistant in Animal feed research centre. I would visit local farmers and give them advice about how to store and transport corn to the feed mill. Here I saw first-hand what kind of challenges both farmers and consumers face in Tanzania. Since corn is used as staple food for both humans and animals, there is a great deal of competition and the prices of corn, chicken meat and eggs run extremely high. For the Tanzanian people, who live on less than one dollar a day on average, this is disastrous. I believe there are alternatives feed sources, such as sorghum or industrial by-products for animal nutrition. However, I lacked the knowledge to put this idea into practice. Therefore, I decided to apply for the master Animal Science in Wageningen and specialise in animal nutrition and metabolism. I wanted to change the way we feed animals in Tanzania and save the Tanzanian people.

When I sent in my application I prayed to God he would stand by me to get this opportunity. It was right before bedtime that I got the email saying I was offered a combined scholarship from the Anne van den Ban Fund and the Future Animal Nutrition Africa Fund, which would enable me to finance my studies. I called my siblings right away to tell them the news – I couldn’t sleep all night! I knew then that my life was going to change, and my dream to study in Wageningen was really coming true.

When I looked Anne van den Ban up online, I learned that he had quit his job in order to consult people in Tanzania. I was so happy to know that he had known my country and the challenges my people face. I learned from him that if you are in a position to help others, do it. I am grateful for the people who keep this fund alive after his passing. This grant will not benefit only me; the knowledge I will gain here in Wageningen is going to impact thousands of people. I will change the world! My father always envisioned that I would get far in life. Sometimes I wish he could see me now. I think he would be happy.