Provide a school for 1,000 children in Tanzania

by Girls Education International
Vetted
Scholarship Students
Scholarship Students

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

After years of fundraising and some very generous support from all of you, Amahoro Secondary School opened its doors in January, 2015. The opening ceremony was a fabulous event with music, dancing, singing, speeches, laughing, honoring, and hugging!

But most importantly, there was a school opening!

In January 2015, school officially began. 75 first year secondary students joined their peers in classes with new and excited teachers. The surrounding community was thrilled to welcome this school to Mgaraganza. Children from the lakeside villages of Mtanga and Kigalie would now only walk one hour to school instead of two! The children of Mgaraganza village would only have to walk about 10-20 minutes, rather than an hour and fifteen minutes - as they did when attending school in Kagongo Village.

Through our joint efforts, we were able to make this happen! We constructed 16 rooms - 4 quads with space for classrooms, offices and laboratories. With the help of our rockstar donors Shelmina and Minaz, we also built state of the art latrines for the school.

Is the job done? No. There is still finishing work to be completed on some of the classrooms.

Is our job done? Yes. We believe in honoring our commitments, and so we have. The local and regional governments and the Ministry of Education have made commitments to continue the final touches on this school until it is ready to host not only Form 1 students, but cohorts of Form 2, Form 3, and Form 4.

Did Project Wezesha make any other commitments? Well ... maybe. 

In 2015 the Prime Minister of Tanzania mandated that all schools have laboratories to better support the development of education in STEM fields. In particular, all secondary schools must have labs to explore chemistry, biology and physics through hands-on practice. His goal is too ambitious and likely will not be realized - um, actually, it wasn't realized. He wanted all ward secondary schools to be equipped with labs by May 2015. This might have been doable in certain developed and wealthy regions of the country (i.e., Dar es Salaam), but not in the majority of the country.

Project Wezesha plans to help the local government in Mgaraganza village as they construct labs to develop a community of creative and critical thinkers who can reach high school and pursue academic interests in any field they want - including science and technology!

So, what's next?

We are closing this campaign and want to thank all of you for your fabulous support over the years. We invite you to continue supporting our efforts in Mgaraganza, Tanzania through our newly launched campaign: Provide Science Labs for Tanzania Secondary Schools.

You can continue to check in with us and find out how our scholarship program and science lab campaigns are doing by visiting our website or by visiting us on Facebook.

 

'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. -Alice Walker

If 'Thank You' is a prayer, then we are always praying and you are in our prayers. It seems impossible to adequately express our gratitude for your participation in this journey! But we hope that you'll continue to venture on with us.
Asante Sana!
With love,
Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha
Lucas Lamek
Lucas Lamek
Meeting with Parents
Meeting with Parents

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Since our big bash to open Amahoro Secondary School in January, school has been in full swing! The first term ended in May and the students enjoyed a summer break in June. Classes started back up in July. The teachers and villagers are thrilled about the school - parents never imagined they would have a secondary school right in the village.

Lucas met with some of the parents recently (see pictures) to discuss ways in which the parents can best support their children to be successful in school. Among the ideas they shared, parents are committed to making time after school for students to study. They are also going to make sure their children get up and out the door each day to arrive at classes on time. (You know how hard it can be to get teens out of bed! In Tanzania they're up with the roosters, but getting the sandals to the sand for the walk to school can be a challenge!)

The teachers are grateful for the opportunity to be teaching in such a lovely, tree-rich environment. There is always a breeze up at Amahoro and the views of the surrounding hills and forests of Gombe are stunning! But, most of the teachers are either staying with families in the village or commuting from town (not a short distance!). This set-up may ultimately result in disconent, unmotivated teachers or resignations. Our next initiative will be to work with the village and town governments to fast track the building of teachers' houses near the school.

In addition, we are planning to launch a campaign to help the school finish up its laboratories so that they have the mandatory labs and equipment to properly teach Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. Keep an eye out for information about those campaigns in a forthcoming update.

As part of the Girls Education International expansion into Tanzania, we have 15 girls studying at Amahoro Secondary School. Project Wezesha continues to support all students in our scholarship program by paying for additional support classes (what they refer to as 'tuition') throughout the year. In this way, our students can stay after school and work with teachers to really dig deep into the subjects that present them with the most challenges academically.

My next trip to Tanzania will be December, at which time I'll be identifying teachers who wish to be involved in a two-way teacher training program with volunteer student teachers from other countries. It will be an ambitious project, but it's the area through which I think we'll see the most impact on education. Walls and books only do so much - the teachers really create the learning opportunities and if they're not motivated, prepared, inspired, and supported then things continue - status quo. We prefer to move education forward to ensure that more of our students reach high school, college and beyond!

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-Founders, Project Wezesha

Brainstorming with Parents
Brainstorming with Parents
District Commissioner, Mr Maneno
District Commissioner, Mr Maneno

Greetings Project Wezesha Supporters!

This is sure to be my favorite update so far. After four years of fundraising, planning, negotiating, (struggling), and succeeding - we are so excited to share the news that Amahoro Secondary School is open! There are 70 Form 1 students currently studying in our completed classrooms! Of this cohort, 15 are newly added girls for our Girls Education International Scholarship Tanzania program! We really couldn't be more happy, excited, and hopeful!

In January 2015, I traveled with two friends to the Kigoma Region. For the first few days, we met with leaders at the district level - planning the opening party, budgeting for the festivities, negotiating PW's contribution and the government's contribution, and much more. We visited the site of the school and met with the enthusiastic and proud new Head Master, Mr. Kumenya, as well as the local village leaders who have been working with us since the  beginning. Village 'Diwani' (Chief) Patrick Maganga was on hand all week - preparing the final details for the opening, including finishing the latrines, building steps into the classrooms, and staying on top of official business (organizing entertainment groups, arranging the schedule of events, staying in close contact with district leaders, etc.). He is a model of what true leadership should look like! Thank you, Diwani Maganga!!

One of the final hurdles to overcome prior to the opening of the school was completion of the latrines. I'll admit - I was very impressed when I finally saw them! Our top supporters, Shelmina and Minaz are responsible for the completion of the latrines. (Thank you, Shelmina and Minaz!!) The latrines come complete with porceline base toilets and a state of the art system for storing waste - which will last up to 70 years before it has to be cleared out by truck! Not just your average hole in the ground! Of course, our fabulous builder Isaya Lameck brought his A-Game to finish them, and his crew of laborers put in many hours digging deeper and deeper through very rocky soil. It was one of the toughest parts of the overall job!

The party was a smash! There were entertainment groups from the village and neighboring towns. They brought in an MC, a DJ, and set up a big tent for the VIP guests. Parties like this are a very big deal for villages and they let it show!

There was a theatrical song and dance performance, dancing by youth hip hop groups, and even some dancing by our current scholarship students. Interspersed with the entertainment were speeches by the village and district leaders. The village exective officer read a speech prepared by Lucas which outlined the timeline of the project, acknowledged the many contributors - near and far, and ultimately celebrated the big opening day!

The District Commissioner, Ramadhani Maneno gave a big speech about the promise of the future with education at the helm. He told the crowd of over 1,000 that I would be back in the future with volunteer teachers of English, Science, and Math to help build capacity ... no pressure! (Any volunteers?) This summer, funding permitting, I plan to return with 4-5 of my MA TEFL student teachers who will complete their English as a Foreign Language teaching internship in local primary and secondary classrooms. If this pilot goes well, we expect great future teacher collaborations in the future!

After all the dance, music, and speeches - they revealed the beautiful foundation plaques on the wall of the school. And then - the feast! All villagers and VIP guests were treated to a celebration lunch. Lucas showed that his skills even extend to being an event caterer and food server! He was tireless in his efforts to make sure this entire celebration was a huge success. By the end of the day, needless to say - we were all an exhausted group of planners and supporters!

But enough reading ... take a little break from whatever else you have to do right now and watch this video mash-up of the celebration!

Thank you very much to everyone who has collaborated, contributed, and cheered along the way! We'll continue to work with the leaders and the headmaster to continue this school's development - building laboratories, finishing additional classroom spaces, and of course - getting the football pitch ready for matches! So - we'll take you along for the journey for as long as you'll let us!

Asante sana,

Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Co-founders, Project Wezesha
www.ProjectWezesha.org

New Latrines
New Latrines
Isaya Getting it Done!
Isaya Getting it Done!
Entertainment Group
Entertainment Group

Links:

Students Coming to Help!
Students Coming to Help!

Dear Project Wezesha Supporters,

Greetings and gratitude from Lucas and me! I'm happy to share some updates with you about the progress toward opening Amahoro Secondary School in Mgaraganza Village, Tanzania.

This past August, I traveled to the Kigoma region to visit with Lucas and check the progress of our project. I was a little surprised to see that very little actual work had been done since his April update. In other words, construction was at a standstill - halted due to lack of funding. As usual, the wheels were set into motion when I arrived.

Meeting Local and Regional Leaders

The first line of business was to visit the regional leaders from various Ministries in the government. I was invited to a meeting in Kigoma town to address the leaders and share my gratitude, concerns, and hopes moving forward. We expressed our gratitude about their recent commitment to contributing to the construction of teachers' houses and laboratories* for the school. We noted our concerns about the pressure of fundraising and challenge of meeting the opening day deadline. We stressed the need for the government to continue their support until the end. We also shared our enthusiasm for the possibility of teacher education and teacher exchange in the future (my 'pet' plan for ensuring quality education at this school). They applauded our efforts and echoed our hopes and excitement.

*Note: Recent legislation in Tanzania mandates that no school open without laboratories in place. While this places a huge obstacle in the road for opening schools in villages, it aims to address the current plight of village schools, which is the prevalence of unmet promises by school administrators and leaders to follow-up on the construction of laboratories. Most village schools never see spaces for students to explore physics, chemistry, and biology to the extent necessary for measurable success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

We also met with the Kigoma District Commissioner, Mr. Maneno who guaranteed his support for this project. Mr. Maneno is new to his position as of this year. He made a trip to the village to visit the school and meet with the local village leaders. He was very impressed by the work that had been completed thus far. He gave speeches of praise to the local leaders, community members, and workers. He also promised to do everything in his power to make sure the school opens in January 2014.

Of course, we had our own meetings with the village leaders. We discussed my concern over the delay in work in recent months. We identified a breakdown in communication between political leaders in town who disperse the money, and the village leaders who sign for and collect the money. Our faithful Chief Maganga stepped in and made some phone calls to make sure the funds would be released. This money would allow our builders to complete the entrances to each classroom.

Meeting with the Children

Our most important stakeholders are the children. There are a handful of them who are present at the school for every gathering of the leaders (mostly because they live next to the school). The kids showed us their twist on using the classroom space in the months leading up to the school opening (see photo). 

In the month after my visit, Lucas rallied the students of Mgaraganza Primary School to come and do a clean up at the secondary school. They came with brooms and tools to prepare the assembly area in front of the classrooms. Of course, they didn't harm any of the lovely trees that will shade them as they have their daily morning assembly!

Meeting with GlobalGiving Volunteer, Janet Chapman

In September, Janet Chapman - a UK-based volunteer with GlobalGiving and the communications manager with the Tanzania Development Trust - visited Lucas and took time to learn about our project. She met the village leaders and Lucas, and made a video allowing us to introduce our new Headmaster, Mr. Kumenya. We hope that her response to the visit is positive and that she can help us garner more international support to complete the school.

At present, my plan is to be in Tanzania again this coming December/January for the opening of the first phase of the school!

But, we're not there yet. The missing pieces at the moment include the latrines that are required before a school can be open (for obvious reasons). If you can chip in today, you can help us channel money to the project so that we can get them into place on the school site. Every little bit counts, as you know! (Why didn't I think of the Ice Bucket Challenge!?) As always, we can do NOTHING without you! Thank you so much for your support thus far. Please spread the word wide and far.

Asante sana!

With much gratitude,

Rai Farrelly and Lucas Lameck
Project Wezesha, co-founders

Students Cleaning the School Grounds
Students Cleaning the School Grounds
Resting after Hard Work
Resting after Hard Work
Women Joining in the Work
Women Joining in the Work
Mr. Kumenya - Our Headmaster!
Mr. Kumenya - Our Headmaster!
Classroom Soccer Match
Classroom Soccer Match

Links:

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
Kalekwa's Wedding
Classroom Floors
Classroom Floors
Kalekwa
Kalekwa's Wedding Guests
 

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Organization Information

Girls Education International

Location: Boulder, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.girlsed.org
Project Leader:
Raichle Farrelly
Co-Founder, Project Wezesha; Treasurer, Girls Education International
Lakewood, CO United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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