Our Founders

Sharing the Gospel through Education in Africa

Village Schools International was founded by a group of Christians who believe that God desires His church in the 21st century to make a positive difference on the continent of Africa, and in particular to impact the poorest of the poor who live in thousands of villages across the continent.

Steve Vinton, co-founder of Village Schools International, currently serving as an advisor to Village Schools Tanzania

Steve Vinton has served for more than two decades as a missionary in Africa, first as a teacher, and then as an advisor to his former students as they worked together to establish primary and secondary schools, a teacher training college, a theologial college, churches, medical clinics and various community development projects in Congo and now in Tanzania.

Steve often speaks at colleges, churches and schools in the United States and in Tanzania.  He guest lectures once or twice annually on "The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches" or "Christian Community Development" for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course offered around the United States under the auspices of the US Center for World Missions.

Susan Vinton, co-founder of Village Schools International, currently teaching and serving as coordinator of Village Schools Tanzania's HIV/AIDS outreach

Susan Vinton was a Peace Corps volunteer before she met Steve, served with the Salvation Army World Service office for 3 years and later as a missionary has been involved in curriculum development, helping women start small businesses, teacher training and most recently in mobilizing people to address the problem of HIV/AIDS in the villages where VSI is building schools.

Susan teaches English to more than 150 students every week. After school, and on weekends, she works with her students and her fellow teachers to meet the needs of widows, orphans and those sick with HIV/AIDS in more than 1050 housholds in the villages around the school where she teaches.

Godfrey Hiari, co-founder of Village Schools International, currently serving as Director of Village Schools Tanzania

Godfrey Hiari was one of Steve and Susan Vinton's students who was born and raised in a small village in western Tanzania. Having gotten the chance to go to school through a community development project Steve & Susan launched, he participated in founding VSI with the goal of giving other young people the same opportunity he had. Godfrey presently serves as Director of Village Schools Tanzania.

The expansion of VSI's ministry from Tanzania across the border into neighboring Malawi is the result of contacts and meetings that Godfrey had with officials in the Ministry of Education, students at the African Bible College, and other interested individuals in Malawi.

Emmanueli Masumbuko, co-founder of Village Schools International, currently serving as General Secretary of Village Schools Tanzania

Emmanueli Masumbuko was also one of Steve and Susan Vinton's students. He is presently serving as the General Secretary of Village Schools Tanzania, spending most of his time in overseeing the large team of more than 250 American and Tanzania teachers. He helped start one of VSI's schools in his home village in southwestern Tanzania.

In 2005, when VST obtained its first construction vehicle it was Emmanueli who volunteered to learn to drive it. Today Emmanueli oversees a team of 9 drivers that he has trained to do more than simply transport cement and metal roofing. They mobilize communities and work together with them to enable them to transport more bricks and stones in a single day than people could carry on their heads in an entire month.

Sarah Bickel, co-founder of Village Schools International, served for five years as a teacher and an advisor to Village Schools Tanzania.

Sarah Bickel served as a missionary teacher in a small school in Tanzania before joining Steve, Susan, Godfrey and Emmanueli in launching VSI in Tanzania. She taught full-time, served as a trainer for new missionary teachers, and was very involved in the programs VSI initiated to help people with HIV/AIDS in the Mufindi district of central Tanzania.

As part of obtaining her masters, Sarah researched partnerships and wrote a paper entitled: "Hope for Partnerships? Local Leadership in an International Partnership in Rural Tanzania." She is currently in the United States heading up the design of the curriculum for the leadership training college that Village Schools Tanzania intends to open in central Tanzanian in September 2014.