Nov 23, 2020

Take That 2020 - We Have Reasons to Celebrate

Dibeit -- University Graduate
Dibeit -- University Graduate

This has been quite a year. You might call it a doozy. But at Project Wezesha, we have some wonderful reasons to celebrate before we bid 2020 farewell. 

Our First University Cohort Graduates 

First, we are so proud of Dibeit, Tumsifu and Saidi who have all graduated from university! Dibeit and Tumsifu recently enjoyed their graduation ceremonies. It brought us a lot of joy to see Dibeit in his cap and gown, beaming with his classmates. We’re looking forward to finding out where he finds a job with his new higher ed degree! 

Toward completion of his degree in Accounting and Finance, Saidi wrote a research paper entitled “The contribution of the budgeting process in achieving organizational goals.” In a What’s App message to Rai, he explained his post-university plans, which center on supporting Tanzanians like his parents who are subsistence farmers with minimal financial literacy. 

Saidi wrote, “I will be providing an education about how to save money in the bank, through opening an account. Most, if not all villagers, after harvesting and selling their crops, save their money in their houses. Also, I will provide financial accounting education. Not only that but also I will provide economic education about diversification of the economy, and share ideas with the farmers and peasants about how to improve their economy through agriculture and domestication of animals.”

We'll share pictures of Saidi and Tumsifu's graduation ceremonies soon!

The Next Generation of University Students

Our second cohort of university students - Ezra, George, and Simoni - have all returned to start their second year of university studies. 

Our third cohort of students pursuing post-secondary education have also reported to their colleges. We added Muhsini, the cousin of Saidi who comes from Kiganza Village. We have known Muhsini since he was a young boy. His parents supported him through secondary and high school, and now we are happy to step in and offer our support.

In addition, Sospeter (The General) and Anzaruni are attending Sumbawanga Clinical Officers Training Center in Dodoma. They are each pursuing a 3-year diploma in clinical medicine. Felisiano is pursuing a 3-year degree in Business Management in Dodoma. We expect great things from each of them and know they are up for the challenge.

We are so grateful for the generous support of two donors, husband and wife team Firoz and Shamim, who have committed to covering the educational expenses for Sospeter, Anzaruni and Felisiano until they graduate. We made this short video - Donors Make Dreams Come True - which shows these young men extending their gratitude to Firoz and Shamim. The young men’s parents were overjoyed as well. They are so proud of their sons and know they will make their families and communities proud.

We are also proud to report that the following young men have completed Form 5 and will begin Form 6 next year. It looks like we’ll have our fourth cohort of university students before we know it: Congratulations to Mayani, Hamisi, Lameck, Malick, and Yohana.

Amahoro Secondary School Makes Top Ten in School Rankings!

In 2015 the Ministry of Education, the regional commissioner and the local leadership of Mgaraganza Village opened Amahoro Secondary School, which Project Wezesha spearheaded and funded with the generous donations of many supporters. This was the first secondary school in Mgaraganza, a village with hundreds of children. It also became the secondary school for many students living in villages located on Lake Tanganyika, who previously had to walk almost 2 hours to reach Kagongo Secondary School. 

In its first years, Amahoro Secondary School was performing like a new school -- that is to say, not well. They didn’t have many resources, there was no laboratory for science subjects, some classrooms were still under construction, they didn’t have enough desks and chairs for all students, and there was a shortage of toilets to serve students as their numbers increased over the years. They also lacked electricity and therefore had no way to make copies or print materials for the students, and no opportunity to offer evening tutoring support. With these and other limitations facing the school, Amahoro students were not performing particularly well on national exams, which both affected the school’s ranking as well as the students’ prospects of attending high school.

Over the years, Project Wezesha has run several campaigns to address some of these shortcomings. With the help of rock star supporters like Shelmina, Minaz and Kate -- who each bring impressive networks of generous donors -- we were able to furnish all classrooms with desks and chairs, as well as add additional latrines. The students were thrilled about this!

In addition, Shelmina and Minaz -- a power couple who we fondly refer to as Amahoro’s Guardian Angels -- launched a fundraising campaign in April 2020 commemmorating Shelmina's 60th birthday. Despite the emerging panic around the Coronavirus pandemic, their friends and family contributed thousands of dollars! With the capital (over $30,000) raised through this fundraiser, Project Wezesha was able to coordinate the following:

  • Our general contractor, Isaya and his team completed the floors in every single classroom;
  • They plastered and painted the walls in each classroom;
  • They built a feminine care facility for the girls so their periods are no longer a reason they stay home;
  • They installed a 5,000 gallon water tank;
  • Carpenters in Kigoma built and installed windows and doors in each classroom;
  • We commissioned a solar power company to install solar panels on the school; and
  • We provided a photocopy/print machine, plus 5 Dell computers for the teachers.

This fall, teachers and students were able to stay later at the school to prepare for the important Form 2 and Form 4 national exams. 

What was the impact??

Amahoro Secondary School jumped in rankings and now places 4th overall among ALL government schools in the Kigoma Region!! We would have been pleased with any top ten finish, but 4th place! The teachers and the students put so much time in to prepare for these exams. Congratulations!! Hongera sana!! What an accomplishment and what a community effort! With this boost in confidence, the teachers and students will continue to work hard and aim for the top spot.

Staying past dark and being able to print mock exams for practice was only possible due to the amazing support received through Shelmina and Minaz’s network. It goes to show how much community matters -- we are rarely one person, acting alone. Progress and success require collaboration, compassion, trust, and believing that anything is possible when we work together! 

The Season of Giving

With each success, we see more opportunity to support our students as they pursue their academic and life goals. With 4 students in university, 3 students in college, and five students likely to begin university in 2021, we could really use your support! University fees for Simoni, George, and Muhsini are $1300, 1300, and $1500 respectively for the year. We anticipate similar costs ($1200-1500) for each of our Form 6 students, when they matriculate next Fall. Now is the time for us to raise the money needed for our 2021 budget. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Click 'Give Now' (below) and make a contribution of any amount today. 
  • Let us know if you’d like to sponsor one of the students for 1, 2, or 3 years.
  • Tell your friends about our work and see if they’d like to contribute. 
  • Donate for the holidays in honor or memory of a loved one. 
  • Begin your own fundraiser through GlobalGiving and see how much you can raise through your network. 

We can offer any support you need as you select a giving plan. You can email us at projectwezeshatz@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

I often note that our work is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of life in the world, in Tanzania, in Kigoma, in each village -- but we know it matters and it does make a difference. (This folktale told by the Nobel Peace Prize winning Kenyan author Wangari Maathai serves as our reminder.) 

The ripple effect of our work is immeasurable and we can’t do it without you! 

Thank you! Asante sana!

 

With much gratitude, 

The Project Wezesha Team
Rai, Lucas, and Madaga

*Girls Education International is the fiscal sponsor for Project Wezesha
*Project Wezesha is the in-country partner of Girls Education International

Graduation Celebration
Graduation Celebration
Saidi working on his thesis
Saidi working on his thesis
Sospeter, Anzaruni and Felisiano with Parents
Sospeter, Anzaruni and Felisiano with Parents
Sospeter (left) and Anzaruni (center) at College
Sospeter (left) and Anzaruni (center) at College
Installing Solar Panels
Installing Solar Panels
Wiring for Electricity
Wiring for Electricity
Teachers with new Copy Machine
Teachers with new Copy Machine
Students using Computers
Students using Computers
Amahoro Ranked 4th Overall!
Amahoro Ranked 4th Overall!

Links:

Nov 13, 2020

Breaking the Barriers - One Girl At a Time

Our dedicated supporter,

We hope you ease into this new season of cooler temperatures, political instability and continuous Covid cases with grace and optimism for better days ahead of us. I wanted to send you this uplifting update from our partners in Pakistan summarizing the last few months in the lives of young women there.

First great news is that all the girls that GEI supports, which at present are 43 girls from 5 villages, are back in school! Because of Covid Pandemic schools remained closed from March to September, 2020. There was fear that many girls would not come back due to family pressures, but everyone is back. Due to Covid, some exams were conducted while others got cancelled. For the girls whose exams were cancelled, their previous grades were used and they moved ahead in their studies.

During the lockdown our partners at Bedari remained in touch with the girls who have shared their health & psychological issues including financial problems of their families with them. Bedari team did telephonic counseling with them to ease some of the concerns. Also during this time withe GEI's support, a very successful 2 day training was conducted with participants from all 5 villages. The main purpose of the workshop was to speak with the girls about self-awareness. Other topics covered included sex and gender issues, self defense, life future planning, etc.  During the training, a session on self-protection was organized for the girls by engaging a Martial Art’s trainer (who herself is a young woman studying in Grade 12 in Chakwal city). Many questions emerged from the training, which created much needed conversations with the facilitators.   I want to share some of the quesitons that emerged from the students at the workshop:

  • Why parents don’t have a friendly environment with their daughters?
  • How to treat infections at home due to lack of personal hygiene?
  • What should we do if we feel harassed by our relatives?
  • Parents always think opposite of what we think about our lives. How do we tell the parents about our happiness? 
  • What to do when our elders don’t understand our emotions when we get angry and they call us rude?
  • How to make good friends?
  • Is breaking an engagement a sin like getting divorced? 

I belive asking the right questions is the first step toward finding the answers. We hope GEI and Bedari collectively use these questions to guide us toward providing the young women in Pakistan with what they need, with the aim of bettering and empowering their lives. 

Finally I want to leave you with a story of one of our students from a remote village area of Sadiqabad. It took long time for a 14 year old Sadia to convince her brothers and parents to allow her to ride a bike, which is largely unexceotable for the women in her area. She was finally able to gain their support. She writes:

... my 4-year old youngest brother had to be vaccinated. My brothers and father were not home and my mother was ill. In this disturbing situation, I put my little brother on a bicycle without any hesitation and took him with me for vaccination. Many times I used to ask my brothers if I could use thier bicycles but they always said no. After this incident and seeing my dedication towards doing outdoor household chores by using bicycle as convenience, my family has somehow accepted that girls can also ride the bicycle and can do all the activities that boys can do. I think my bold step has broken the society’s social barriers at least in my village. I believe that I am no more an ordinary girl who is just restricted to the household chores, in fact I feel empowered like any other person in the society who can achieve anything irrespective of the gender discrimination".

Indeed better days are ahead of us.  

 

With Kindest Regards, we thank you for you continuous support

Pakistan Project Leader - Tamrika Khvtisiashvili 


Attachments:
Nov 13, 2020

Bright Spots in 2020 from Tanzania

Edasta - University Bound!
Edasta - University Bound!

Dear Girls Ed Supporters,

There is no denying 2020 has been quite the year! The world has been knocked off its feet by the pandemic, which has had devastating impacts on economies, healthcare and education globally. Not surprisingly, schools around the world closed for varying amounts of time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effect of these closures can be particularly significant for girls. Girls in underserved communities often lack access to the technological resources required to engage in remote learning. In addition, girls who leave school for extended periods of time may not return because they have assumed more responsibilities around the home, have married, or have become pregnant.

In Tanzania, schools were closed from March through June, but opened again in July. One bright spot for us is that all of the girls in our scholarship program did return to school. They remained steadfast in their pursuit of educational and career goals. 

One of our greatest highlights for 2020 is that we are celebrating the first university student from among our scholarship recipients! Edasta completed high school this year. She performed well on her national exams and applied to two university programs. She was accepted and is reporting to her university this month! Please join us in congratulating her and wishing her all the success possible in her studies. Our friend and super supporter, Shelmina of Seattle, WA offered to cover Edasta’s university tuition. #GratitudeOverload

In her note of gratitude to Shelmina, Edasta wrote, “My promise to you is that from my heart, I will be studying hard so that to reach my dreams. Then after accomplishing my studies I will find the work from any company so that my dream will become true of helping my family from poor life to better life with all society.” Many students in our program pursue their education with the stated goals of improving their society and supporting their families – embodying the community spirit of Tanzania.

In other exciting news, Rabia completed her studies at the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) in Kigoma. She was awarded a certificate of completion in Design Sewing and Clothing Technology (see attached). Now she has her sights set on opening her own tailoring business so that she, too, can support herself and her family. Shout out to our friend Hilary who paid for Rabia's training program.

A cohort of our students completed a teacher education program and all seven of them were hired as teachers at various nursery and primary schools. All of their jobs were put on hold during the school closures, but they are back to work now. Recently, we learned of an unfortunate experience endured by one of these young women -- but never fear; it has a positive outcome.

Skola was hired as a teacher at a private school and was enjoying her work with the young learners. Unfortunately, she was recently harassed by a male teacher at her school who was inappropriately asking for sexual favors. She tapped into her power and refused. As a result, she lost her job. We honor her strength and recognize the challenge she likely faced when enacting her agency and walking away from a job that meant so much to her and her family. We are, however, very happy to share that she has already been hired by another school in Kigoma town. Our in-country partners at Project Wezesha are writing a letter to the owner of this school to shine a light on the behaviors of this teacher in the hopes of promoting policy enforcement so that future women teachers at this school, and other schools, will not be put in this compromising position.

Another one of these young teachers was married and became pregnant during the time when her school was closed. However, as we all know -- marriage and motherhood are not tradeoffs for employment. Lois is happy to be able to start a family. She is taking the generous six months of leave time that Tanzanian women are afforded after having a baby. Her school is holding her position for her and she will return to work after maternity leave. Her baby will be blessed with a motivated, educated mother with expertise in early childhood education!

We continue the work we do because reports continue to affirm the importance of educating girls in overcoming poverty. In fact, investing in girls’ education through high school could increase the GDP of countries by 10%. Ying Qin, an analyst with Citi Global Insights says, "Investing in the development of girls is not only the right thing to do, but it's a key contributor to growth, delivering unparalleled impacts and returns across societies, and that multiplier effect should not be underestimated." We’re proud of our indirect investment in Tanzania through the support we’re able to provide to girls in remote and underserved regions of the country.

Of course, we cannot do our work without your support. Our projected budget for operating costs in 2021 is $15,000. This includes the costs of high school, diploma programs, and vocational training for the girls who continue studies through the year, with the anticipation of several of our Form 6 girls joining university next fall. We are running an ambitious campaign through this season of giving to raise this money by the end of the year, but we have a long way to go. Please share our work with your network and invite them to make a contribution today. You can donate by clicking the Give Now button below.

Stay tuned for updates on our campaign and more information about the girls’ successes in the coming weeks as we move into what we hope to be a bright new year!

With Gratitude,

The Girls Ed Team

Rabia's Certificate of Completion
Rabia's Certificate of Completion
Rabia
Rabia

Links:

 
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