A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: JoeEKateD

Good People Along the Way

Throughout our travels, we have consistently had the pleasure of explaining our trip to various people we have encountered over the past few months. All of the people we have talked with seemed generally impressed and happy with the work we have done. "Oh, that's wonderful", "How fantastic", and "Good for you" have been typical responses we have received. Although we have met wonderful people who have been traveling with service and service learning, not many people seemed to even consider the idea of traveling with a purpose. We would meet random people in random airports as they were vacationing, and after telling them about what we were doing, you could sense a feeling of guilt or jealousy. Here they were, vacationing at their leisure, while we were volunteering and making a difference in the same area as them. While these vacationers were hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, or going on safaris, we were meeting with various NGOs and charitable organizations, furthering our knowledge, while helping others. That, in a way was the main mission of Amizade. Cross cultural learning experiences. We became knowledgeable on subjects in the international field, while helping others who sometimes desperately needed assistance. While installing water tanks in rural Tanzania, I learned first hand from local governmental officials what globalization has done for them and their communities. Hopefully, by sharing our experiences with fellow travelers, more people will know about the good work Amizade has done, and that they too are able to help people around the world.

Posted by JoeEKateD 05:04 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

Exchanging Ideas and Information

Since concluding our journey with Amizade we have encountered many individuals who were traveling with service in mind, from people who resided in the areas to others who were tourists like us looking to make a difference even if it is a small one. In some areas, people were looking for guidance as to start up an organization. We met two men in Kilwa Masoko, Tanzania who were interested in starting up an organization that places emphasis on the importance of organized sports in the community. They wanted our guidance as to who they needed to get in touch with in the States to gain support and information.
Through traveling we have come to understand that one of the most important aspects of the non-profit sector is exchange of information, whether it is between organizations, from the organization to the people it works to benefit, or the organization to its supporters. Meeting with various NGO's and through getting to know individuals along the way we understand that open communication and conversation can go a very long way. One of the most important lessons that has effected us, is learning not only to communicate but to listen attentively. I think as students it becomes second nature to sit and listen to a lot of information being thrown at you. What becomes imperative to understanding the world, is really learning to listen and comprehend what is being said. Before embarking on our trip to Tanzania, we both had majors in African Studies and have taken classes on global development. During our travels it became clear that as students we may have been listening, but not truly comprehending. We had many discussions in our Amizade group about how we had all read about water problems and food shortages but never took the time to really understand how important understanding these issues and communicating them to people in our community was. What we hope this blog accomplishes and what we hope to continue when we return home is to provide our home communities with the knowledge we have gained and the lessons we have learned from Amizade and individual travels.

Posted by JoeEKateD 04:59 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

International Youth Foundation

A Meeting With Sarah Mtambo, Country Director for Tanzania

semi-overcast 86 °F

According to their brochure, the International Youth Foundation, or IYF "prepares young people to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens". Based out of Baltimore, Maryland IYF operates in more than 70 countries. In Africa these include Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania. In Tanzania, their main focus is on education and health. Often times these two areas overlap, and more often than not the government falls short of what is needed. This is where IYF stands in. They envision a world where "all young people achieve their full potential and shape the future with power and confidence". In Tanzania, they are partnering with the Ministry of Education on a new project known as "Bridge IT". Working with Nokia and Vodacom, teachers are sent TVs and cell phones. The phones activate video clips of pre-recorded lesson plans, all in accordance with the school's syllabus. IYF simply sends the videos through Vodacom services with Nokia phones. At the present moment, Bridge IT is being used in 150 Tanzanian schools in 5 regions. All of the lessons are in Swahili, and all of the locations are primary schools. IYF is very proud of the successes of the program and the 2010 budget extends the program to 400 schools. Because most places lack teachers, the program makes it easier for the children to learn. It helps teachers teach rather than acting as a substitute. It is not a end all be all problem solver, but it helps. In a place like rural Tanzania, any help is welcome. The question is now, will it be sustainable, or will it disappear when the money dries up? Time will tell, but Ms. Mtambo plans on IYF being in Tanzania long term, and anything less would be "unacceptable". We certainly hope she is right.

www.IYF.org

www.Amizade.org

Posted by JoeEKateD 10:21 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

Our Journey Post Amizade

Continuing our Education in Africa

Amizade equipped us with the knowledge and skills to navigate and understand the world through the eyes of a global citizen. Working with Amizade has made us aware of global issues and how we as young students can take the proper steps towards our future in a world that needs to understand that issues are not one dimensional and that in order to address one issue you must look at the greater picture; for instance, in order to address women's rights you must address issues of water, poverty, and cultural social standing. We understood that once the program was complete that it was imperative to continue our education by meeting with various NGO's that work in the areas we were to be traveling to. What we found was that education never stops, even when we weren't meeting with NGO's we were meeting individuals like us who were traveling with a passion and purpose to understand the areas and issues.

One of the people we met was a gentleman named Giorgio who was the director of "27 Dollars"which is a documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus. Yunus was the creator of the Grameen Bank, the first micro-finance bank. He is a sort of celebrity within the development studies world and we were very excited to meet and discuss micro-finance with Giorgio. Micro-finance loans are small loans which are given to individuals, mostly in developing areas, to help them create small businesses or to be able to put money into their farms and homes. The loans are usually given with very low interest rates and many organizations are more willing to lend to women because they have a higher return rate and are usually more responsible with paying them back. A popular trend in micro-finance is to create small groups in the community and have them be help responsible with in their groups, usually a leader is appointed within the group. Many of the organizations we met with utilized micro-finance as a tool because of its proven success.

There are many organizations that we have come across that deal in micro-finance. Some include:
WOMEDA
International Youth Foundation. www.iyf.org
KADERAS
The Hunger Project. www.thp.org
SEWA: Self Employed Women's Association. www.sewabank.com

If you are interested in pursuing information about Micro-finance or are interested in supporting individuals abroad through micro-finance please check out KIVA at www.kiva.org

"We may be poor, but we are so many. Why don't we start a bank of our own ? Our own women's bank, where we are treated with the respect and service that we deserve."
- Chandaben, old clothes seller,Founder - member, SEWA Bank

Posted by JoeEKateD 03:46 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

A Meeting With the District Commissioner

All Politics is Local

sunny 85 °F

When we met with the District Commissioner of Karagwe, Tanzania we were unsure how he would answer our questions. Many of times those working within a government are reluctant to be completely truthful about the situation of the country. This was not the case, however. When asked about the problems his region and country face as a whole, instead of sugar coating the situation, he jumped straight into the issues. The first and arguably most daunting problem is that of early pregnancies. When a student becomes pregnant, she must leave school and is unable to return. Even with the many birth control campaigns, 98 students were pregnant in Karagwe this past year. This does nothing to end the cycle of poverty. Another major issue is while population growth stands at 4.9% annually, economic growth has slowed down to 2.9% annually. Also, illegal immigration from surrounding countries like Rwanda and Burundi have only exasperated the problem. They come looking for work, and according to the District Commissioner, they end up committing crimes. On the brighter side, the problems Albinos face in other areas of the country are not quite as prevalent in his region. Also, food seems to be plentiful, for the rainy season produces enough crops. On the other hand, there are not enough medical facilities and infrastructure is lacking. In terms of what we were working with, water, within the district, 34% of the population has access to safe, clean water. This was followed up by pointing out the area is surrounded by the Karagwe river.
All in all it was an incredible opportunity to sit down with the District Commissioner in his office and have the chance to ask him any question. We feel truly fortunate to have done such a thing, and it was an amazing learning experience.

Posted by JoeEKateD 11:33 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

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