Provide a school for 1,000 children in Tanzania

Jun 23, 2014

June 2014 Amahoro Secondary School Update

Waiting for Class to Start
Waiting for Class to Start

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Again, I send out heartfelt gratitude on behalf of Lucas, me, and the residents and leaders who will benefit from the opening of Amahoro Secondary School! I'm excited to share pictures from Lucas of the progress made through April (see above and below - windows and doors and floors, oh my!). By the time I arrive in Kigoma in August, I'm sure the updates and photos will truly astonish. I, for one, can't wait to see the completed classrooms - ready for their first cohort of eager learners!

But ... we're still rounding the bend with construction - which means that there is still material to be purchased, builders to be paid, and of course our night watchman, Kalekwa, to be compensated for watching over the materials and keeping the local kids out of harm's way. (We love Kalekwa!)

Speaking of Kalekwa, during our first year of construction on Amahoro Secondary School, Kalekwa's wife died suddendly during the birth of their third child - a lovely daughter. We were all very sad for his loss. Kalekwa chose to stay with us at the school site, leaving his two sons and newborn daughter in the loving care of the women in his family. His salary as a night watchman was indespensible and with this income, he supports his small young family. We are happy to share the news that this Spring, Kalekwa married once again. Lucas shared these pictures you see (below) of our friend on his happy day!

As for Amahoro Secondary School, we hope you'll continue to support us in the home stretch (yes, home stretches are longer in Tanzania)! Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Please post a link to our project on your social networking sites (use the convenient sharing buttons below).
  2. Share this project report with friends.
  3. Ask friends to chip in a little to help us generate the funds we need to get 'er done!
  4. Host a fundraising party or build your own online fundraising page (just click the green 'fundraiser' button beneath the large orange 'donate' button) - you can design it as you wish, build it as a wedding registry, or create an event (5k, bike race, car wash, etc.).
  5. Donate - money is always the bottom line.

PS - As the sole fundraiser for Project Wezesha in the United States ... actually, in the world ... I do realize that being asked time and again for money can be annoying (imagine being the one who has to ask 4 times per year, at least). So please, do know that I appreciate it more than words can really express. I wish I could carry you all in my case when I go so that you could see the hope and happiness on the faces of everyone that I come in contact with as I make my way around the villages, visiting old friends, meeting new ones, and sharing stories from near and far. One day the sounds from these classrooms will be those of songs, sciences, histories, maths, and laughter - rather than those of hammers and saws. And then together we can say - we did this!

Thank you so much!!

Rai Farrelly & Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha 

Windows and Walls
Windows and Walls
Kalekwa's Wedding
Classroom Floors
Classroom Floors
Kalekwa's Wedding Guests
Mar 17, 2014

March 2014 Amahoro Secondary School Update

Lucas Lameck
Lucas Lameck

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

We are so thrilled to have you on this journey with us! I just got off the phone with Lucas. He's in Tanzania and I'm in Armenia and together, we do our very best to keep this project up and running ... racing to the finish line! I love hearing his voice because his smile comes right through with words. I'm (we're) the luckiest to have such a loyal, capable local partner.

In my conversation with Lucas, I learned that four of our classrooms and two offices are completely finished!! That means that not only do they have walls and roofs, they have windows, doors, completed floors (the expensive part), and plaster on the interior and exterior! The final touch - blue paint for the exterior - is coming soon. But structurally - they are complete - ready for desks, chairs and students.

In addition, as promised, the Tanzanian government is installing latrines for the school - obviously required amenities before a school can open.

I told Lucas that our supporters (and I) would love to see pictures, so those are coming soon and I'll send another update with them when they reach me.

Also, I'm starting the planning for my next trip to Tanzania - in late June/early July. It always helps me feel connected to the project, the community and you when I can be there in person. It allows me to keep the relationships strong and give you the honest, transparent updates that you absolutely deserve for all of your support thus far.

US-based members of the Board of Directors for another nonprofit in the area paid a visit to our school recently. They were in disbelief when Lucas told them that since 2010 we had raised 16 classrooms, plus 4 offices. They were in disbelief because their project has only completed 4 classrooms since 2007. They insisted that Lucas take them to our site so they could see for themselves. They really couldn't believe their eyes. It gave them the confidence they needed to make some organizational changes within their own nonprofit - including replacing their director and installing more 'checks and balances' for the allocation of funds and labor on their project. This made Lucas and I very proud - because we knew what was happening in the other project. Now, that organization can continue with integrity and serve its community better. You know what that makes us ... a successful model and 'Agents of Change' - we couldn't be more happy about that!

In terms of completing our entire project, we are still in need of financial support. We're not there yet. The exact budget to completion is not precise because the government is helping us with some components (raw materials), while we're covering the rest - including the most important parts: skilled labor, a watchman, and Lucas' salary ($100/month). The Government is moving rather slowly on their contribution of materials, but they are making it happen.

The part that is in our control, is that which we raise - so if you want to help us cross the line even sooner, then please consider giving us a little boost. As you know, every dollar counts and they all go straight to to project and the people needed to complete the project.

Thank you for all your fabulous support and continued interest in what we're accomplishing in Tanzania!

Cheers and Asante Sana,

Rai Farrelly & Lucas Lamek

Nov 20, 2013

November 2013 Amahoro Secondary School Update

Amahoro Secondary School - Roofs and Trees!
Amahoro Secondary School - Roofs and Trees!

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Happy start to the holiday season! We hope you are enjoying time with family and planning for the upcoming December festivities to celebrate all of our respective traditions!

It is with great pleasure that I share with you some updates from Tanzania about Amahoro Secondary School. The biggest news of all is that the roofs are officially in place on all 16 classrooms and completed offices! This is so exciting and such a relief! The rainy season may be upon the village, but the work inside the classrooms can continue now that all the roofs are there to keep the workers dry!

The remaining work on the school entails completing the plastering of walls - inside and out, finishing all floors (that's a lot of concrete!), building and setting the remaining doors and windows, and finally - painting the exterior walls.

When I was there in July, I saw the chosen colors for the shool - a nice sky blue and cream combination. It's going to be lovely amid the many trees that were spared by this eco-conscious community during the construction of the school. (Just look at all those trees! They are all native to the area and will shade the students during breaks before and after classes.)

The anticipated timing to officially launch classes depends upon the completion of a sufficient number of classrooms by the end of December. Last year, we made an agreement with the village government that requires their participation on this school project. They have done well to acquire $16,000 from the Tanzania government last year - which funded the purchase of cement, lyme, wood, and paint. However, they have to rally again this year and continue to do so until all classrooms are finished.

In the meantime, Project Wezesha has committed to keep the skilled laborors paid and additionally support the village leaders by supplying as much as we can in funding toward the materials needed to finish these classrooms.

In short, we're not there yet! We would love your continued support in making this amazing dream a reality. Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Spread the word. As always, we love when you tell others about the work we're doing and why you think it's important. Please share our website and Facebook page through your social media networking sites. The more people we can involve in this dream, the sooner we'll see it come true!
  2. Build a Fundraiser. GlobalGiving makes it very easy to build your own fundraiser. Go to our project page, scroll down to just beneath the big Donate button; click on the little green fundraiser button and voilà! You can build a page for a wedding, holiday, sporting event, etc. You can personalize it and tell your friends why you want to help. Many of you know about us because your amazing friends Shelmina and Minaz did just that! They raised over $30,000 for this effort through their wedding - huge gratitude to their amazing family and friends! (I'm still in awe - and they even caught the attention of GlobalGiving who later contacted Shelmina for an interview to explore why this mattered so much to her! We love you, Shelmina and Minaz!!)
  3. Donate. Of course, at the end of the day - Lucas and I are Project Wezesha and we just have to keep making the 'ask'. If you have a little to spare, feel free to share. It goes a long way - literally and figuratively - to complete the amazing start to what you see in these pictures!

Thank you very much - Asante Sana!

With love and gratitude,
Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-founders, Project Wezesha

Plaster on the Classrooms
Plaster on the Classrooms
The Future Soccer Pitch - Built by the Kids!
The Future Soccer Pitch - Built by the Kids!
Sep 3, 2013

Amahoro Secondary School_August 2013 Update

Classroom with Windows
Classroom with Windows

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Wow! What a ride it's been! Thank you for being part of the adventure to this point and we hope you will continue to support our work and share with your friends and family as we round the bend. (We are so close!!)

This summer, I traveled to Kigoma again to continue forging relationships and keep the momentum going on the school building endeavor. As with every year before, we faced challenges and experienced triumphs! Highlights from this year include the following:

  • The Tanzania government allocated 25 million shillings (~ $16,000) to the village effort to complete this school. It was decided that this money would go to the local village leaders to spend on necessary materials for finishing the classrooms - wood, iron, cement, lyme, etc. to complete walls, floors and doors. After 4 years with all the funds coming through Project Wezesha, we were nervous about the management of this money. But, we didn't need to be! When I reached the school grounds for the first time this July, I saw a classroom filled with all the supplies to complete 8 classrooms.
  • In addition to supplies, a skilled carpenter was well into his work on the window and door frames. He worked meticulously with hand-powered tools to prepare the many windows for the classrooms. I was quite impressed with his attention to detail and the quality of the frames he made.
  • In addition, a large donation arrived at the end of this summer for the final roofing material - the aluminum - to roof the last set of four classrooms. Thank you Shelmina and Minaz!
  • And, the men are hard at work finishing the plaster and paint on all of the classroom interior walls. The exterior plaster and paint has been purchased and they will tackle that job next. The final piece to the puzzle is the concrete floors in the classroom. It will be the last job they do before we can cut any ribbons.

Working with the village to complete this school has never been without its challenges. This year, we had one set back when the villagers failed to contribute the necessary water to the worksite so the builders could make the concrete and plaster for the classroom walls. This has been the number one challenge we faced over the years. There are a few reasons they cite. Among them: villagers in areas close to the school feel they do more than others; some leaders don't work alongside their citizens; villagers think they should be paid for this work.

These are all great reasons, but not easily remedied. It's true that villagers who live far away don't come often to carry sand, stones and water - yet their children will benefit from this school one day. It's also true that some leaders 'beat the bushes' to get folks to help and then don't turn up themselves. And yes, the work does merit pay. The decision not to do so was based on our initial agreement that stated: if Project Wezesha generates funds to build this school, we will pay for skilled labor and all materials. In exchange, villagers will contribute sand, stone, water, and the labor to get those materials to the worksite. Typically, in Tanzania, a secondary school is built by the villagers only - with no external (NGO or government) support.

One day, I arranged to stay in the village with our friend Jane. The reason being that I wanted to wake early and carry water with Jane, Lucas and Maiko in the morning so that the workers had some water to make plaster. The evening before, Lucas and I walked around and spoke with 50 or so men. I practiced my speech in kiswahili so I could be the one to ask a favor, rather than Lucas. I told them that work had come to a halt due to lack of water. I told them that we would be carrying water in the morning and that with more men, we could fill the tank in less than an hour. I said, please - just one hour. Will you join us? Each of them smiled, shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said, 'Of course, no problem, tomorrow, see you then.' The next morning - Jane, Lucas, Maiko and I, along with two women I hadn't talked with and one man who already worked for us carried 800 liters of water. Not one single man from the village showed up.

After working for 2.5 hours, we returned to the village, tired, hot, hungry - and yes, angry. I went to the village leaders' office and spoke with the executive officer. She saw how upset I was and was very disappointed in these men. Alas, what's to be done. In the weeks following, the village diwani (chief) and other leaders used money from the village budget and found 8 individuals to carry water for pay. They filled the tank. They were all women.

I don't want this to seem like a sad story becuase it's not. For me, it reinforces what we are doing. In this particular village, the adults have limited formal education experience. They have uneducated views about medicine, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, how to conserve the local environment, and how to generate an economy for their small community. The men spend a lot of time playing a popular game, Bao, drinking chai or coffee, and chatting. The women do the work of the village - from having and raising children to cleaning, cooking and collecting water and firewood, to delivering babies and caring for the elderly.

So why is this reinforcing what we're doing? Because with education, so much will change! I can already see the shifting of perspectives about life and education among the children we support with secondary school scholarships. I know that this will have an impact. I doubt sometimes - like all good believers, I doubt. But I find strength in the support we get from all of you and the progress I see each year when I visit. It has taken longer than I anticipated to complete this school, but - Rome wasn't built in a day either. :) Most secondary schools are built over many years, one classroom at a time with students attending unfinsihed schools and enduring continued construction as the villages can muster funds. Our 4-year plan was ambitious, and we're almost there! If the floors are finished this fall, we will be bringing in the first group for the beginning of their school year in January 2014. And if they don't, we will still finish and this school will be populated with eager, uniformed, bright young students soon enough!

Sincere thanks for all of your support! It has been extremely appreciated and very well managed, I assure you! Project Wezesha has virtually no overhead, so the great majority of donations we receive goes straight to the project. In addition to materials and skilled labor, your funds contribute to Lucas' salary for his tireless work on the ground - working to ensure the funds are spent appropriately, materials arrive safely, the village leaders remain honest, and that you get updates and photos like those you see here. Please take a moment to enjoy the pictures - the fruits of your support!

Asante Sana!

Rai Farrelly

Classroom Walls and Windows
Classroom Walls and Windows
Lucas roleplaying
Lucas roleplaying 'Carpenter'
Vantage of Whole School
Vantage of Whole School
Lucas happy to see plaster going up!
Lucas happy to see plaster going up!
May 23, 2013

May 2013 Update on Amahoro Secondary School

3rd Block of 4 Classrooms - going up in April
3rd Block of 4 Classrooms - going up in April

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Thank you so much for joining us on this journey! We are seriously rounding the bend in a big way!!

There are two great updates to share:

  1. Since the beginning of this project, we have encouraged the villagers and the local government to be as involved as possible - to ensure local 'buy in' and attempt to avoid over-reliance on foreign assistance in this community. To date, the community has contributed greatly with volunteer labor for carrying sand, stone and water to the building site. However, skilled laborers, our engineer, architect and general contractor (all local) have been paid by Project Wezesha. Last year, we laid out a budget for the Regional Government to consider and share with the Tanzanian Government at large. Finally, we have their support! In April, Lucas shared the great news: the government has allocated a starting contribution of 25,000,000 Shillings (approx. $16,000 USD) to support us as we finish the classrooms. Their contribution will go directly toward the windows, doors, and concrete floors of the classrooms! We owe a debt of gratitute to Miriam Mmbaga, who works in the Education sector of the local Kigoma government. She rallied behind us to ensure this budget was strongly considered at the big meeting!
  2. Amahoro Secondary School - which will comprise 16 classrooms in 4 quad sections with offices flanking each corner - is so close to being finished. The bricks for all 16 classrooms are up and in place. The roofs are complete on 3 of the 4 quads and the goal is to finish the final 4 this summer, funding permitting! We still have a way to go - financially - to see this through, but we are so close! With the above-mentioned help from the government, we will at least have 8 classrooms completely finished (walls, roofs, windows, doors, floors, plaster and finishing paint) in time to admit students in Form 1 (and maybe even Form 2) at the start of the 2014 school year.

Co-founder Rai Farrelly will be joining Lucas in July to observe the progress, get updates to share with you and keep the momentum going with the local government. In addition, we are excited to announce that we have a fabulous intern joining us for 6 weeks this summer. Brian Fredrichs, newly elected student body president of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT will be living in Mgaraganza village with our friends Ashahadu and Jane. We look forward to his work and contributions to the project.

We also wish to thank our friend, Krista Arthur who visited the village and stayed with Ashadahu and Jane for two weeks. The photos in this project update were provided by Krista and we love having them to get excited about the progress!

Thank you so much for all your support! Please continue to share our work and encourage friends to contribute as we round the bend on the school! Our efforts won't stop there, of course. As you may know, we have a great scholarship program and we are excited to be able to add 30 girls through Girls Education International this summer, bringing our scholarship impact to almost 60 children in the region! You can support our children's scholarship fund by visiting this link and contributing.

Asante Sana!!
Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-founders, Project Wezesha

3rd Block of 4 Classrooms - with new roofs!
3rd Block of 4 Classrooms - with new roofs!
Krista makes friends at the school building site
Krista makes friends at the school building site


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Project Leader

Raichle Farrelly

Co-Founder, Project Wezesha; Treasurer, Girls Education International
Lakewood, CO United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Provide a school for 1,000 children in Tanzania