To Whom It May Concern:
In February of 2013, I was to go to Zambia, Africa on behalf of the Zambia Scholarship Fund (ZSF) to purchase a vehicle. I am not a mechanic and was warned that everyone in Africa would try and take advantage of me in the purchase of a vehicle. We advertised for a mechanic to go on this charitable mission even to the extent of me writing and submitting an article to the Deseret News about the ZSF and the trip. The newspaper called me and interviewed me and published the article that included a portion that the ZSF was looking for a good mechanic to go on the trip with me--no response. I called Tad Draper, a good friend who was a prior law partner of mine. I knew he was my last hope. "Tad would you like to go to Africa with me for three weeks to purchase a vehicle for the ZSF on your nickle?" I asked him. Whoever goes with me will buy their own plane ticket, pay for their own food and lodging, and even pay for the gas used for the vehicle once we purchase it. This is how our charity operates; 100% of the donations go to put Zambians through high school as the Zambian government does not pay for high school. We are trying to make a difference in the lives of the people in Zambia. Tad had a conflict and confessed that his knowledge of cars was not sufficient anyway but he knew an expert mechanic that he had used for years. Tad called me the next day and informed me that Mike McNeil and Pete McNeil, the owners of McNeil's Auto Care in Sandy, Utah had agreed that one of them would go on the trip with their wife. After they discussed the matter it was decided that Mike and his wife Leslie would go because the trip was for three weeks and Pete McNeil who was actively running the business at that time could not leave for a solid three weeds. Pete McNeil, as President of McNeil's Auto Care agreed that the company would finance the McNeil's expenses of this charitable trip. I soon learned that the McNeil famile are very kind, compassionate, giving and loving people. I was taking my daughter Katie with me. I made several joint calls with Mike McNeil and we purchased one way tickets on Orbits from SLC to Dar, Tanzania leaving Feb 5 and one way tickets from Lusaka, Zambia to SLC that would get us back on Feb 24 in the evening. We were now committed. The president of the ZSF informed us that no U.S. bank would wire funds to a bank in Dar unless we signed an agreement that if the funds did not get there the ZSF would stand the loss. There is simply too much dishonesty and fraud in this region of Africa to attempt a wire transfer. No business would accept traveler's checks or money orders in Tanzania which was also a big problem. We called several auto dealers in Dar and no one would take a credit card. The only solution was to take cash--and lots of it. Leslie made cash belts to wear under our clothing and we each carried about $9,000.00 cash. After arriving in Dar we met up with some people who were to help us find a vehicle. With Mike's expertise we soon figured out they were trying to make a $5,000.00 commission on our purchase and were trying to sell us junk vehicles. Based on Mike's expertise, we ventured off on our own. I was always amazed that once a vehicle was started Mike could tell within a few moments what major problems the vehicle had. We met with one dealer who tried to sell us a 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser for $42,000 that really was a 2007. Mike read the serial number and explained to the dealer that it was not a 2010 but a 2007. Mike finally found a 2007 TLC series 70 which we negotiated for the sum of $26,500 which was virtually identical to the one the other dealer had just tried to sell to us for $42,000.00. The repairs Mike had requested were made as part of the price and as part of the consideration we were provided a driver from Dar to the Zambia border which was about a 14 hour drive. After the repairs were made we paid for the vehicle with $100 bills and were on our way to Zambia. This 2007 TLC Series 70 we purchased will seat 8 in the backplus the two int the front. NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. WITHOUT THE FINANCIAL COMMITMENT OF MCNEIL'S AUTO CARE AND MIKE'S EXPERTISE WE NEVER WOULD HAVE PULLED THIS OFF. We were on our way. At 4:00 a.m. we pulled into the border town of Tunduma, Tanzania and the driver parked by some big rigs for a few hours sleep. We finally crossed the boarder into Zambia and met the ZSF employee that drove us into Kasama, Zambia where we spent a few days visiting high schools where the ZSF sponsors students. The ZSF has been using the vehicle ever since to accomplish its charitable work. Mike and Leslie McNeil in Zambia Mike and Leslie McNeil spent three weeks of their lives and McNeil's Auto Care provided at least $8,000.00 to $10,000.00 of its funds to help the ZSF purchase the vehicle. The ZSF is determined to build a trade school in Kasama, Zambia which will give the students we support through high school a means to develop skills post-high school to make a living and support a family in a country where unemployment exceeds 90%. Mike and Pete McNeil have committed to oversee the set up of the auto mechanic portion of the trade school. The ZSF is deeply indebted to McNeil's Auto Care and the McNeil family for all that they have done to help the charity and for their future commitment to help with the trade school. Pete, Mike and their spouses are all both generous and charitable people who are trying to make a difference in the world. As I look around at our competitive society and see so many that become selfish and greedy it is refreshing to meet people like McNeils and companies like McNeil's Auto Care who see the individual worth of "the least of these" and are willing to share what they have with them to give them a hope for a better life. My time spent in Tanzania and Zambia with the McNeils was a life changing experience and I am grateful to have become lifelong friend of the McNeil family. I returned from another trip to Zambia in October of 2014 and Pete and Mike wanted a full report.1 went over the trip with them and they again expressed their commitment that they and McNeil's Auto Care would help me set up the automotive aspect of the trade school the ZSF will be building in Kasama, Zambia. The McNiels and their business, McNeil's Auto Care, are a great asset to the community in which they live.
Jim Boud, Vice President of the Zambia Scholarship Fund 1 (801) 562-3200 Zambiascholarshipfimd.org