He attributes his feelings about the project's goals to his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana after college, an experience that affected him deeply.

"I have, from that point on, had an affection for Africa, and have always wanted to return in some way," he said.

So far, the Malowa Medical Clinic, a 3,200-square-foot cinder block dispensary, has been built and is serving adults and children in a limited capacity as the rural facility awaits an electrical hookup, Lynch said.

Support the Poor, a county nonprofit led by former local resident and Kenyan native Mary Wandia, has built a convent that is home to 40 orphans in collaboration with the Tanzanian Children's Project, he said.


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"But you don't just build and walk away," Lynch said of the clinic and other planned structures. "You keep plugging away, paying salaries and paying for supplies."

Mlay, who is currently serving a church in Jupiter, Fla., said he still gets calls from his hometown relaying how many people have died there each week.

But the Tanzanian Children's Project "has made a lot of difference," he said.

"That small clinic is helping us to control [health] outcomes and to reduce the number of people dying from illness," he said. "The Knights of Columbus are the kind of people who, once they begin something, want to see it through."

Lynch said he and Sikora traveled to Tanzania in September 2012 on a working vacation to tour the Rombo district, where the clinic is located.

"It's difficult to keep all this going by email," Lynch said of the project's investment in Tanzania. "We were happy to see the building for ourselves and to meet the parish priest, who gave us a tour."

Wayne Thalasinos said he and his family chose to support the project "because of its focus to provide essential medical care in a location where care is so critically needed."

The project is currently raising funds to install a solar electricity generation system at the medical clinic to supply backup power for vaccine refrigeration, lighting, and cellphone and computer charging, he said.

Plus, Thalasinos said, the celebration offers great food, camaraderie and entertainment, making it an enjoyable way to donate to a great cause.

Vicki Cofield-Aber, a clinical social worker and educator of African descent, said, "I am keenly aware of the devastating effects of poverty and how it cripples not only the child, but future generations of families.

"I give to the Tanzanian Children's Project and encourage others to give so that these children … can have a brighter future with healthy bodies and minds that will break the burden of poverty," she said.

Lynch summed up the Knights' commitment to the work: "The Tanzanian Children's Project is about being involved in a cause that gives people with limited resources, especially vulnerable children, an opportunity to succeed later in life," he said.

For tickets to the March 22 event, to be held at 5:30 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Road, go to brownpapertickets.com/event/525642 by March 18. For information on future fundraising events, including a Leprechaun Charity Run in Ellicott City on June 7, go to tanzaniakids.org.