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Giving Tanzania's majesty and glory back to its children

Sure, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro requires willpower and dedication.

But mostly, it takes money.

Tanzania , an East African country, is suffering an HIV/AIDS pandemic where absolute poverty throughout the region is the norm. Few locals are left with resources to see their internationally recognized landscapes.

Enter three wildly passionate Peace Corps veterans assigned to Tanzania.

Their vision is to build ``My World Inc." into a globalized ``Make a Wish Foundation." They are uniting to give Tanzania back to its children -- one class trip at a time.

Joel Boutin, 27, said My World was created to give Tanzanian children the chance to see the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro and beyond to the exotic Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. He and Adam Dobson, My World executive director, got the idea after they returned from the Peace Corps in 2004 and were sharing an apartment in Somerville.

Boutin said they felt it was unjust that the only way Tanzanian youngsters can get to see their country's natural wonders is to carry things up the mountain for tourists . ``It is degrading and is a new colonialism," Boutin said. ``Those with paper money get to experience the wonders that belong to those without paper money."

It only costs around $75 for them to take a student on a seven-day excursion, he said. Most international travelers pay more than $10,000 for their trips, Dobson said.

As teachers in communities around Tanzania, Dobson and Tim Hogan of Dorchester took some of their students on an unusual field trip in 2002: across the nation to climb Mount Kilimanjaro .

Ten students, some whom had never left their village, saw, for the first time, elephants and giraffes, cities, and snow. By exposing them to the beauty of their own country in school lesson plans and then field trips, Dobson said, biology, chemistry, physics, and geography skills are demonstrated in a natural setting.

``These are all World Heritage sites . . . these parks are no farther away than the White Mountains are for Bostonians," said Hogan, 28. ``That is living 100 miles from the Grand Canyon and never going to see it. It is ridiculous."

Hogan said he hopes awareness and science can aid in curbing the flight of educated people from the continent. ``I'm not naive enough to think going up Kilimanjaro will stop the African brain drain, but it would help," he said. ``They go up there and say `This is ours.' They see all the people going to see the stuff. Maybe it will give them a reason to come back."

The trio are creating a curriculum to help Tanzanian teachers use the local resources as educational tools. They intend to seek contributions from American tourists who have already spent thousands of dollars to see these sights.

Dobson, in a phone interview from Mexico, where he is working to aid street children, said he hopes to travel to Tanzania in January to set up more local contacts and find permanent employees to run the organization .

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