Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,
Happy Holidays from Team Project Wezesha: Lucas, Rai (me), Madaga, and all the students!
Time for Reflection
Each New Year brings a special time for reflection. Reflecting on my years working with Project Wezesha and Girls Education International brings a rush of memories – of miles walked between villages with Lucas, of schools we’ve visited, of students we’ve supported, of meetings with various leaders, of classrooms built, and challenges faced.
I’m reminded of our responsibility to the youth in our programs who inspire me with all they’ve achieved with a little support from you and me!
I’m hopeful about the future as we continue to offer academic study camps with the incredible support of our donor, Shelly Braun, our Education Director, Madaga, and the amazing teachers who provide their time and knowledge each December and June to ensure more students from villages can attend high school and university.
Partners for Life
The year 2023 marks 15 years since I met Lucas, co-founder of Project Wezesha, advocate for all young people, family man, and dear friend. We call each other “kaka” and “dada” respectively, which means “brother” and “sister” – and it truly feels like we are family. We are the adopted “baba” and “mama” (father and mother) of two orphans in Kigoma that we’ve been supporting for many years. And we are affectionately known by many local villagers who have seen us work tirelessly in service to the mission of Project Wezesha as “baba kazi” and “mama kazi” – roughly: “father work” and “mother work.” I’ve seen Lucas marry and have two daughters. I’ve eaten with his family more times than I can count – singing, dancing, laughing, and chatting with his mama, baba, wife, children, siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. It is my most cherished blessing this holiday season to have these memories and my forever-connection to Lucas.
What is the best way to help? Sponsor a student.
Of course, no matter how much “kazi” Lucas and I do, we can’t accomplish anything without you. We are so grateful for your support. As we enter 2023, we are still greatly in need of funds for several of the young men in our scholarship program. Some of them are beginning their first year at university, while others are moving into year two or three.
We are celebrating their successes on national exams. We are celebrating exceptional performance in university classes. We are celebrating their service to their communities. We are celebrating the future they represent as they become doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, environmental scientists, pharmacists and more.
Perhaps with a group of friends and family, you can pool funds to support one young man. You can commit for this year only or see him through his entire academic career! Below is the list of names and tuition costs. Their tuition fees vary depending on whether they were assigned (as is done by the Tanzanian government) to public or private universities, as well as whether they qualified for government loan support. They all applied for support, and most were successful.
When I think that students at CU Boulder, where I teach, pay up to $30,000 per year for university tuition – and $1500 wouldn’t even cover the cost of one full course – I think: This is doable! However, financial times are challenging right now. We know it’s asking a lot to support someone you don’t know and may never meet. But you can trust Lucas and me when we say, these young folks are truly remarkable, deserving, and grateful. We’ve known them for years and have watched them grow into fine young men with hearts set on making their communities safer and healthier. Will you invest in them today?
Student Names and Costs for One Year
Hamisi, a second-year medical student pursuing a career in surgery, recently joined his classmates to commemorate World Aids Day (see picture) by giving blood and campaigning to raise awareness about AIDS, which still afflicts many in Tanzania. He said in his message to me that they were donating blood “to help in reducing [the] mortality rate to our lovely women during delivery as they lack blood to support their lives. Our blood will also go in helping patients who get [in] accidents and lack relatives to take care of them. I feel proud to be part of the group.” And we are proud of Hamisi!
Saidi, a graduate from our program who completed his university studies in Economics is now a financial advisor and business consultant to members of his community. He helps locals know how to invest their money and make wise business decisions. He was recently approached by a woman who was debating between selling her land and building a home to rent. Saidi advised her to keep the land and build sustainable income through the rental property. He consulted with a small group to explore how they could turn a small amount of capital into a thriving soap production business. They more than tripled their investment in a short amount of time. He has taught shop owners how to reinvest their earnings into the business instead of using their personal funds, which was a reason many shops were closing. Currently, Saidi is saving money so he can study to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Simoni, a third-year medical student, shared how proud his parents and his community are of him as he becomes a doctor. According to Simoni, “education has broadened my worldview and helped me to grow intellectually.” He is in a 6-year program. He has two more years of coursework and will spend his final year in his internship. His focus is gynecology. From an early age, Simoni has been troubled by the health challenges he’s seen women in his village face, including complications caused by sexually transmitted diseases which can cause infertility, at risk pregnancies, and in some cases – death. Simoni hopes to work with women in his society to raise awareness about various diseases, promote healthy behaviors, and encourage screenings. Having supported Simoni since Form 1 (year one in secondary school), we are so proud to see all he has accomplished over these past 9 years. He is constantly conveying his gratitude, but we are just honored to be part of his journey.
Simply, Thank You!
On behalf of the students, Lucas, and Madaga, I send our deepest gratitude for all you’ve done to support Project Wezesha in big ways and small. Please tell others about Project Wezesha, share this report, and ask others if they’ll join us today. Pamoja, tunaweza kufanya zaidi. [Together, we can do more!]
Happy New Year!
Asante sana. Thank you.
The Project Wezesha Team
Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,
Here we are about to start a new school year in many parts of the world. In Tanzania, however, secondary school students are wrapping up an academic year. And like every summer, they’re ending on a strong note thanks to the annual summer academic study camp that Project Wezesha offers.
In this 3-week intensive camp, 10 young women and 10 young men who study at Amahoro Secondary School came together to participate in our unique and rigorous study camp. They are divided into groups based on their year of study, and within those groups, they attend classes all morning. These small classes provide a boost to the learning that’s taken place throughout the year in all subjects, including Geography, Physics, Biology, History, and English. The teachers are motivated, invested, and professional! They make all the difference with the care and knowledge they provide.
Amahoro Secondary School is unique among village schools. Thanks to the generous support of many donors, the school has well-built and ample latrines, solar panels, copy machines, printers, electricity to charge laptops, and a state-of-the-art STEM lab. We're so thrilled to see the amazing science lab put to use at Amahoro Secondary School year round, and at camp (see picture of Madaga and Lucas in the lab).
We've been running these study camps for years now and the impact has been undeniable. Just consider who's entering their first year of university this coming fall - Study Camp veterans Lameck, Malicki, Elias and Yohana! We can recall years ago when they were Form 2 and Form 3 students, dreaming of completing secondary school. They attended study camps twice a year with enthusiasm and big dreams for their futures. Now they’ve successfully completed high school and performed well on their national exams. In November, they start university and join the ranks of the many young people Project Wezesha has supported through high school and university over the past decade!
Study Camp has been the winning ticket! Students who attended study camp demonstrated a higher capacity for success in secondary and high school. At camp, they establish a solid knowledge base for the core subjects, but they also learn to be self-motivated, autonomous learners. They learn about accountability, collaboration, study habits, peer instruction, and how to devise action plans that lead to attaining goals!
In the camps, students spend the afternoons in peer study groups where they take turns reviewing what they learned, problem solving, and completing homework (see pictures of peer groups in action). They find out that collaborative learning is a win-win, and this aligns with the community spirit that is deeply rooted in their culture. Of course, the culture has its fair share of competition - as most do - but these learners really lean in and leverage one another, seeing one another’s success as shared success.
And let's not forget food! At our camps, food is fuel for learning! The students eat well at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are no hungry brains among them. We're so grateful to our camp cook, Mama Amina, who has been with us from the very beginning. The students love her; she loves the job; and everyone loves her food! (See pictures.)
Please help us continue the important work we do to elevate the impact of education in the communities we serve by making a generous donation today. All donations made now through December go directly toward covering the costs of university tuition for our line up of future doctors, surgeons, economists, urban planners, teachers, environmental scientists, and more! We literally cannot do this work without you.
Kindly share this report with the link to donate. Let your friends know why this matters to you and to these young people.
Thank you for your support thus far. Let’s keep going!
Rai, Lucas, & Madaga
The Project Wezesha Team
Greetings, Project Wezesha Supporters!
This summer, Project Wezesha celebrates 13 years as a small nonprofit working to support youth in the Kigoma Region of Tanzania. When we got started, one of our longtime friends from Kiganza village, Saidi was only about 11 years old. (See picture of Saidi with Dibeit and Hindu in 2009.) He was still in primary school, but there was rarely a day that he didn't turn up at the guest house where Rai was staying and Lucas was working.
Fast-forward many years later and Saidi has completed secondary school, high school, and university! He earned a degree in Economics with a focus on Financial Management and capacity building with local communities. Saidi is the son of subsistence farmers. Most of his life, his parents were working far from home at a farm they own. He was largely raised by his grandparents and as he got older, he and his siblings took over care of his aging grandparents. Knowing how difficult life for subsistence farming families can be, he has always been committed to pursuing a degree that would empower him, to empower his community.
As soon as he had his degree, he found work consulting with communities - offering workshops and trainings on finance management, investing, banking, and more. Recently, Saidi offered a workshop to villagers in the Uvinza district in the south of the Kigoma Region. Topics of the sessions included methods for generating income, developing sustainable relationships through economic partnerships in the community, addressing climate change through enhanced farming practices, and establishing microfinance and marketing groups. The participating farmers had the opportunity to present ideas to one another to share and build upon existing local knowledge. Saidi was praised for the expertise he shared and the time he invested with this community. (The photos show Saidi and the villagers working together in the classroom and the field.)
Saidi is one of many students we have had the honor to support over the years. We are thrilled to see him mature into a young man giving back to his community with the new knowledge and skills he developed while earning his BA. We really couldn't be prouder!
In the coming months, we will have tuition bills for several students starting or returning to university in Fall 2022. Lameck, Malicki, Elias, and Yohanna will start their first year. Simoni, Hamisi, and Mayani are continuing into Year 2. Our budget for the 2022-2023 academic year will be $10-15k. If our first year students get government support, their annual tuition will be approximately $1500 each. (Without government support, tuition is $2500 each. We'll find out about government support in September.)
Would you like to sponsor one of these young men? Perhaps a group of your friends will join together to raise $1500?
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for many communities in Western Tanzania! The ripple effect of supporting one student keeps going and going! Let's keep exploring what we can do together.
Sincerely and with gratitude,
Lucas, Madaga, and Rai
Team Project Wezesha
(Girls Education International is the fiscal agent for Project Wezesha.)
Happy Holidays Project Wezesha Supporters!
We hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and enjoying peace at this time. The pandemic has given us all a lot to think about – and worry about. It has also given us opportunities to expand the ways in which we connect with one another locally and globally. My hope was to return to Tanzania this December to join students from Amahoro Secondary School during our academic study camp, but unfortunately, the uncertainty of Covid in Tanzania has made that impossible. Nonetheless, camp will go on! And in the meantime, Lucas and Madaga are sending updates weekly via What’s App.
Celebrating Class of 2021
At the end of November, Amahoro Secondary School celebrated the graduation of Form Four students. They celebrated with dance, song, speeches, and food (see photos). There is so much pride among the teachers, students, and community members. We’ve come a long way since opening the school in January 2015!
December Study Camp
On Monday, December 13th a cohort of students from Amahoro Secondary School – 10 young women and 10 young men will begin attending study camp. Our longtime supporters are well aware of the success of our camps. The impact of attending a 3-week intensive camp twice a year has been remarkable! We saw a growth in the number of students passing national exams after their final year in secondary school. The ripple of effect of that has been more students attending high school, and ultimately university!
This year, we support a record number of students attending university. Project Wezesha is directly supporting 8 men and 3 women in university and college programs. We are also proud to partner with Girls Education International to support an additional 11 girls – 10 of whom just began at universities around the country in November. Having spent a lot of time in the villages where these students come from, I can attest that this is cause for celebration! These young individuals are among few from their remote communities to attend high school, let alone university. They are motivated and knew from the beginning that if given financial support, they could do the rest – and they have!
2022 Fundraising Goals
Our fundraising goals for 2022 are set – our operational budget will be $17,750. It’s high because we’ve been successful, so we’re accepting this challenge with gratitude! Here’s the breakdown:
We also have $700 remaining for our 2021 goal of $3,000 for Mayani and Hamisi’s university tuition. In the meantime, these young men have reported to their universities and started classes in November. So here, we'll share the story of Hamisi's launch into medical school.
Hamisi – Future Surgeon in the Making
Hamisi is studying to become a surgeon. He was motivated to do so by his own experience with illness as a young boy, and the failure of doctors to help him in the early stages of his disease. Now, Hamisi is enrolledat Kampala International University in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
According to Madaga, our Education Director, Hamisi has finally adjusted to the rigors of his program. He is enjoying life in Dar ss Salaam and has made many great friends to study and spend time with (see pictures). In some of his lectures, there are over 200 students from Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Rwanda. Their professors are from Nigeria, India, Cuba, Kenya and Tanzania. The university is finalizing construction on a hospital, which will serve the local community and be a site for medical student learning. Hamisi’s academic and career goals now include a focus on the health of women and children. He hopes to specialize in gynecology.
In Hamisi’s Words (slightly edited)
I am very grateful for my sponsors giving me another chance on my study journey. I enjoy my study at Kampala International University in Dar, because of the special kind of love and support from our lecturers and my friends. Our lecturers teach us how to dissect the cadavers. This makes me feel like I've already become a surgeon.
In addition to attending lectures, our program requires a lot of time on reading books so at our campus we have a library, which I use for more knowledge. I meet with friends from different places. Always I expect to learn new things from them. I meet with Ahmed from Zanzibar, Leonard from Mwanza, Linus from Dar es Salaam.
In our program, we have 9 subjects this year - anatomy, physiology, medical ethics, epidemiology, immunology, behavioral science, communication skills and English language, computer, and biochemistry. Per day we study 3 subjects for 2 hours each.
I wake up at 3:00 AM to start readings. At 5:00AM I pray, then come back to study. I commute 20 minutes to campus and take courses from 8am until 4pm. After class hours we have a 1-2 hour group discussion, based on what lecture teaches us. Finally, I go home and rest briefly before starting to read from 8:30-10:30pm. Then I go to bed. The main challenge I face is that I’m studying on my phone of small storage capacity. It can't handle the notes and materials needed to our course.
Inspiration and Gratitude
We’re inspired by Hamisi and his dedication to his studies. The amount of time he invests in his courses and his future is sure to result in his success. I suppose if we could add one more ask to our already big wish list for 2022, it would be a funding stream to cover the cost of one laptop per university student. In Dar, they can buy a good computer for $250 USD. Let us know if you’d like to contribute for one!
Thank you to everyone for your continued support of Project Wezesha over the years. We hope the stories of the students’ success bring you as much joy this holiday season as they bring us. It’s all about the bright spots in the world today! Help us continue adding more light by contributing to support these university students through 2022 and beyond!
Rai, Lucas, and Madaga
The Project Wezesha Team
Proud Partners of Girls Education International
Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,
Many of the young men in our scholarship program have dreams that lie in the medical field. They have all been inspired by their life experiences in the villages surrounding Kigoma town.
Inspired by Experience
At the very start of secondary school, Dibeit knew that he would pursue medicine with a specific goal of improving the quality of health and life for women and their children. Tumsifu echoed Dibeit's concerns about the number of women they saw dying in their villages due to complications from childbirth and other female health related issues.
In May 2020, Dibeit and Tumsifu graduated from University. Tumsifu is now working as an Assistant Doctor at a private dispensary in Tabora. Dibeit is also working at a hospital in Tabora, and he is awaiting an appointment by the government to an official post.
In Their Footsteps
Following in their footsteps, Simoni entered a program to become a medical doctor of gynecology -- a 6-year program that will provide him with sound theoretical and practical knowledge for the work he plans to do. He is motivated by a strong desire to improve the overall health of women through a holistic approach that incorporates a focus on lifestyle choices.
In this short video, we share a message sent to us by Simoni via What's App. In addition to sharing about his academic program and future goals, he commits to investing 10% of his future salary into our scholarship program to help "his young sisters and brothers" (i.e., future Project Wezesha students) as they fulfill their academic dreams.
We have known Simoni since he was a small, shy young boy at the top of his Standard 7 class at Mgaraganza Primary School. His teachers raved about his academic performance. Everyone lamented the future of a young man with so much potential, but very little means to pay for secondary school. Project Wezesha admitted Simoni to our scholarship program and supported him through secondary school, academic study camps, and high school. Throughout it all, Simoni remained focused on his goals and performed at the top of each class. It was no surprise to us that he would be admitted to university to become a doctor.
In addition to these young men, Sospeter and Anzaruni are completing year one of a 3-year program at Sumbawanga College in pursuit of a diploma in Clinical Medicine. (See photos of these two students with their peers at College.) They share updates about what they are learning through both course work and field study. Recently Anzaruni reported on the inspiration he got from attending the graduation of 3rd year students. He is both excited and nervous about his second year as the length and intensity of the program increases. Among challenges he anticipates is a lack of equipment to complete his coursework, noting that there are several devices that he will be required to purchase to keep up with peers in labs and other practical courses.
Continuing Your Support
If you believe in the potential for these young men to make a difference in the lives of many Tanzanians through their work in the medical field, please consider sharing this update with friends and family and making an additional contribution today. With your support, we can ensure they not only earn their degrees but excel while doing so!
Thank you for being part of the dream!
Rai, Lucas, and Madaga
Team Project Wezesha
*Girls Education International is the fiscal sponsor for Project Wezesha.
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