January 23, 2024.
Everyone loved Mel Breed. He was a kind and gentle man whose first reflex was always compassion. He was a social worker and a savvy businessman. He combined those two things and built an entrepreneurial business that provided wrap around services for special needs people who had fallen through the cracks. His servant-minded business led the industry in providing real care for special needs people. Mel led a life of compassion and generosity.
Mel loved the people of Karagwe. He was a long-time friend and confidante of Bishop Benson Bagonza and had traveled to Karagwe with his wife, Leann and a wonderful group from Wisconsin. He was part of the group that was instrumental in supporting schools in Karagwe, in supporting KARUCO College and in supporting various start-up businesses including a bus service. The people of Karagwe loved Mel. How could they not.
Mel died in November, 2021. About 500 of us gathered during a peak in COVID to celebrate his life in Eau Claire Wisconsin. He had touched so many.
Mel shared a calling with Educate Tanzania. We both felt called to help the people of Karagwe. Mel understood prioritizing the needs of the people, understood being business savvy, understood leading with kindness and compassion. He left a huge hole where his kindness, compassion and generosity had been. He also left an urgency to implement the ideas we had worked on including the micro-loan program.
The MEL Program
Mel and I had talked about a program to initiate start-up businesses in Karagwe. We collaborated with our partners in Karagwe to outline a program that would grant funds to graduates of KARUCO who would apply through a process of submitting a business plan that included goals, sustainability, gender equity, economic viability, a budget and accountability. When Mel passed away the urgency to implement the program grew. ETI collaborated with KARUCO who formed a committee to carry out the selection process. The result was 5 recipients – beneficiaries – who had applied for funds. And why not call the program the “Micro-Enterprise Loan” (MEL) Program! The MEL Program was born. And I share with you today that the program has provided funds for nine businesses that have started up in Karawge. My visit to those programs yesterday brought tears to my eyes as I could see Mel beaming at what has become reality for these KARUCO graduates. Mel didn’t like getting credit or being noticed for his deeds. That is what makes it all the more satisfying to say that Mel’s legacy is a living legacy that can be seen through the transformation that is happening in Karagwe.
Today is the service for Mel Breed. We will meet at KARUCO this morning to remember him, his friendship to Karagwe, his faith, his family and his devotion to his community and the world. Bishop Bagonza will lead the service as we remember this good friend, a kind and gentle soul whose first step was always compassion and generosity. We will bury ashes and will point to the MEL Program recipients and the proposed MEL House where businesses and compassion will thrive under one roof.
Mel’s life mottos will be on the marker at KARUCO. Kindness always wins. Community is crucial. Family is everything. All for the glory of God.
Today we remember Mel Breed.