A Travellerspoint blog

WOMEDA

Conducting Interviews in Rural Tanzania

Another group we worked with during our course was WOMEDA, which stands for Women's Emancipation and Development Agency. WOMEDA was a wonderful organization that worked with women to help them uplift their social standing through providing them with knowledge about how they can empower themselves. WOMEDA recognizes the underlying social problems restricting women and tries to address them through various programs. Some programs they implement include affirmative action programs, they form social awareness groups, and provide women with legal assitance (i.e. property rights). WOMEDA understands that if you give women skills, they will have opportunities to progress economically and personally on their own without the help of their husbands and other men in the community.
Our group was asked to conduct interviews with women in the rural area. The purpose of the interview was to gauge women's knowledge about their rights and other helping organizations in their community. Over the course of 2 weeks we conducted 6 interviews with a total of 7 participants, 2 participants were men. One thing that seemed consistent in all of the interviews was that women wanted a voice in their communities but felt tied down with their immense poverty and need to work constantly in order to maintain their households and family. One of the questions we asked was what their biggest concern was, many answered that they were concerned their house would fall on their children or that they needed more food and water. I was expecting to hear that they were concerned that their voice wasn't being heard in the community or that they felt restricted by what they could accomplish in their lifetimes. It became clear through the interviews that these women face hunger and being scared daily and because of that they do not have time to think about being represented politically. WOMEDA tries to alleviate some of the stress they face daily by educating them and also providing some basic needs such as bedding and school uniforms and supplies for the children.

I'm including an excerpt from an email I sent while I was in Kayanga. I feel it really expresses what I was experiencing at that time:

This week has been pretty intense to say the least, traveling A LOT to very remote areas to interview different families who receive help from WOMEDA. Our first interview was definitely the most intense thing I have ever experienced. We were under the impression we would be interviewing women about water tanks and their rights in the area, which most of the interviews are, but this interview was a surprise. Upon arriving we realized it was a 17 year old boy named Sweetbot and a 15 year old girl named Joyce who were the head of the household of their 6 brothers and sisters. Their father passed away and their mother went crazy and left them. Sweetbot apologized for talking softly because he has been suffering from Malaria, he explained that he had some medicine but was not able to see a doctor. One of the children also suffered from elephantitus in his hand, I had NEVER seen anything quite like it. He said it was painful but he grows accustomed to the pain, they are not able to get him surgery.

I am really sorry if that is intense for some of you, it is just what I am facing daily and it is really opening my eyes to the greater issues facing developing countries. We have visited schools, water engineers, agricultural organizations, and the district commissioner and many of the issues are focused on lack of government support and international aid. Without empowerment and the ability to access news and current events many of these people are unaware of how to lift themselves out of or better their situation. I talked to a 54 year old women who was one of the most intense and expressive people I have ever encountered and she just kept reiterating to me how she wished she had a voice and people would listen. I think when I return to the states that is what I want to work towards, empowerment within communities, within the states and abroad, because how are we supposed to address issues without the voice of the person facing them. =
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Since completing the program we have met with many other nonprofits who work on the same model as WOMEDA, which is empowering individuals. Organizations like International Youth Foundation and The Hunger Project recognize women play a major role in shaping communities and if they are able to make changes, the entire community benefits.

For more information visit:
www.amizade.org
www.iyf.org
www.thp.org

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

Joseph Sekiku's Eden Center

Creating a Millenium Village

Another of Joseph's projects is the Eden Center. Currently under construction, the goal of the Eden Center is to create a place where people can gather, take classes on various trades (i.e. agriculture, energy, clothes making, etc.), and have a place to stay in case they have travelled far distances to attend classes. The ideology is to empower individuals, particularly women, to take action in their communities and to do so in a way that betters their lives and the lives of those around them. Joseph wants people to understand that education is a life long process and wants to provide people with opportunities to actively seek out furthering their education and to better their financial situations. As we talked about fruit drying earlier, many of the farmers in the area were experiencing problems with their crops rotting. His method enables individuals to take a bad situation, flip it, and make it better.
There is a solar panel that partially powers the compound, as well as a generator which will soon be powered by the oil of the seeds of trees he planted sometime ago. What we became involved with was installing a towering wind turbine which can be seen from very far away because it is so tall, and stands over all other edifices in the area. We also painted the interior of a few of the classrooms. One of Joseph's main theories and mottos is taking advantage of what is already available. Located at a high altitude, there is plenty of wind to be used, and wind is free, energy is not. The installation of the wind turbine is completely in line with what FADECO is aiming for, and embodies all of the inherent potentials of an otherwise economically downtrotten place. Joseph hopes to expand his ideas outside of his community, so other places in similar situations can see the successes and work towards their own. He wishes all of his work will have a profound impact on the immediate community by providing electricity, a place to learn, and technologies previously unavailable. FADECO has expanded by word of mouth, and hopefully with this blog The Eden Center will see similar growth.

www.Amizade.org

Posted by JoeEKateD 05:57 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

FADECO

"The African Eye is in the Hand"- Joseph Sekiku

One of the groups Amizade partners with is FADECO. FADECO is an NGO based out of the Kagera region of Tanzania, and it stands for Family Alliance for Development Corporation, it is run by a man named Joseph Sekiku, who started it in 1993. The philosophy is alleviation of poverty and sustainable development is possible if you can find the inherent potentials that already exist within a society. Mr. Sekiku found his calling to improve his community with the Arusha Declaration of 1967 as the background. This Declaration created the Socialist/Communist Tanzanian state. Many, if not all industries became public, and Joseph saw this as anti-entrepreneurial. In 1988, he saw that Tanzania had little to no infrastructure, economic opportunities, nor development, all of this led Joseph to return to Tanzania from Uganda, where he was studying.
One of the first things he realized was that in the region, there was a lot of rain fall, and a lot of land, yet the country relied heavily on European food aid. Joseph decided to gather all of his resources and work with the Catholic Church in establishing community farms to produce much needed food. It was no doubt extremely difficult, and slowly but surely Joseph's work began to grow and become successful. By 1995, FADECO had 15 employees, and was continuously growing via word of mouth. Joseph noticed general themes within the society that others seemed not to recognize. People often were producing a single product, (for example, bananas), yet there was no market for it. If everyone has bananas, who wants to buy them? in 1996, Joseph then began to dry foods, creating an entirely new market. Transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables on dirt roads mixed with the lack of a market meant alot of food spoiled. By drying fruits, he had created a simple yet effective way of fixing the problem.
As years went on, FADECO has continued to expand. There is now a radio station, newsletter, books, Internet, and NGO partnerships. The success of FADECO is evident throughout the community. As Joseph says, "I feel I am useful, and that keeps me going''. We doubt anyone would disagree.

Posted by JoeEKateD 08:18 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

Amizade Means Friend

For the past two months we have been travelling throughout Africa and it has been absolutely incredible. We are really fortunate because during the first month of our travels we were participants in a Global Service Learning Course based in rural Tanzania. Amizade emphasizes the importance of supporting community driven initiatives while also addressing greater global issues. We took classes, visted with local Non-profits, volunteered with our partner organizations WOMEDA and FADECO, and emmersed ourselves in Tanzanian culture by eating local foods and participating in local customs. Amizade gave us the opportunity to experience a place in the world that we otherwise would not have sought out and because of that our eyes were opened to new experiences and a new way of viewing the world and how we can work towards bettering it. Throughout this blog we will address what we have learned from participating in a program such as this and how we will continue to use that knowledge throughout not only our travels, but our lives. To find out more information about Amizade and their many programs all over the world please visit www.amizade.org.

Posted by JoeEKateD 07:26 Archived in Tanzania Tagged educational Comments (0)

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