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New AfricAid video made by Colorado Academy student Ian Welty

AfricAid from Ian Welty on Vimeo.

Two Kisa Scholars chosen from Orkeeswa Secondary School to Participate in the U.S. Embassy's Youth Leadership Exchange program

We at AfricAid are over the moon excited that two star Kisa Scholars from Orkeeswa Secondary School, Margareth Melkiori and Victoria Samora, have been selected to join the next two groups of the U.S. Embassy's Youth Leadership Exchange program! We couldn't be happier for these girls winning this truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Scholars were chosen based on their impressive leadership and academic skills. We wish them the best of luck and can't wait to hear about their adventures and experiences in the program!

How Hollywood is Still Typecasting Women

Here is an interesting read on how the media typecasts women in stereotypical, sexualized or less-powerful roles. “If the cultural message is continually that women aren’t equal, then it’s tearing down the other efforts.” Click here to check out the full article and read how media ALSO has the power to uplift!

Kisa's Career Day Inspires and Amazes All in Attendance!

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It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning on August 27, 2011, unlike any regular day in Arusha. The promise of a good day was in the air; all of our Career Day guests were happy with the weather and so were the AfricAid and Kisa staff. We had been planning and looking forward to that day for months. Anande, Kisa project manager, a Kisa mentor and I arrived to the Career day site at Via Via Restaurant (known as “the meeting place” around Arusha town) at 9am in the morning. We had had a busy day the day prior, but that didn’t lessen our excitement for the event and for the speeches to be delivered to our Kisa girls.

Kisa's Career Day was meant to serve as an inspiration for the girls enrolled in AfricAid's program called Kisa; for those who aren't familiar with Kisa, this program is an AfricAid initiative to teach high school girls leadership and life skills. This year is the first time AfricAid hosted a Career Day so we were all very excited and a little nervous to see how it would go. The goal of the day was to have our professional, dynamic female Tanzanian guest speakers share their personal stories with our Kisa girls, to inspire them and to teach them that true success comes through overcoming obstacles and hardships in life. The hope was that our students would learn to see obstacles or challenges as an inspiration to work harder, a chance to become stronger, rather than a stop sign on the road to success.

Our first guest, Ms. Irene Kiwia, a model and President of Frontline Porter- Novelli and Alumna of the State Department’s fortune 500 Program, arrived soon after we arrived at ViaVia. She explained how she got to where she is today because of her enthusiasm and how she believed in herself, even though she seemed to be the last person to deserve the position based on her experience. She is truly a heroin in her life and now she is a heroin to Kisa girls.

The following speakers, Magreth Kaduma, the founder of an orphan center called CHASAWAYA in Makambako and serves as a Diwani or civil counselor in Njombe, Hellen Joram, the Sales and Marketing Manager of the reputable Creative Studios in Arusha, Mrs. Theopista Seuya, the Headmistress of Peace House Secondary school, a private school for vulnerable children in Arusha, and Ms. Amabilis Batamula, a Fema Tv talk show host, all told amazing stories and told the girls to fight for their dreams.

Career Day was not only an event to inspire Kisa girls, but it inspired everyone who attended the event in one way or another. Our guest speakers' stories bore serious messages that will help many get through difficult times and reach their dreams despite any obstacle that may occur on the way. All our guests had different messages but they all had one theme that was most important for anyone to have: believing in one's strength and what one can do. Even when the whole world is against you and what you want, if you have faith in your own ability/ies, then you can make it through anything and reach your dream/s. After all, what would the good times mean if it weren't for the bad times?

Tanzanian Girls are Risking Rape for an Education

For many young girls in rural Tanzania, the commute to and from school can be a dangerous one. So in order to live closer to their schools, girls often live far away from their families in dangerous, cramped areas called "ghettos" where they risk the chance of being raped or harassed. Unfortunately, the frequency of sexual harassment has resulted in girls not being able to finish their secondary education. Drop-out rates at some schools are up to 20 percent, mostly because of pregnancy. For more information and to learn how Tanzania plans on fixing this crisis, please click here!

AfricAid Receives Funding from the Western Union Foundation

AfricAid has received grant funds from the Western Union Foundation and is using them to help furnish new workshops at the three-year-old Muungano Vocational Centre (MVC) in Usa River, Arusha Region, Tanzania! The grant is helping provide sewing machines and other equipment for the tailoring program at MVC! AfricAid is so excited about the grant. For more information, please download the PDF about the Western Union Foundation's grants by clicking here:

AfricAid featured in The Guardian

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We are so excited that AfricAid's Kisa Project has been featured in the British national daily newspaper The Guardian! We want to thank everyone for the continuous support which has made all of this possible! Asante sana! [Thank you so much!]. Click here to read the article online!

AfricAid's First Annual Trip a Huge Success

Twelve kind, curious, and adventure-seeking Americans and Canadians plus four Tanzanian schools plus three game parks plus two nights camping in the bush equals one truly amazing, once-in-a-lifetime safari.

AfricAid and Africa Adventure Consultant's first guided trip to Tanzania ends this week. Participants witnessed AfricAid's programs first-hand and got to experience Tanzanian culture through school and home visits. And, of course, it included the classic safari experience. The group visited Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. In one day, they saw 30 lions and one leopard - and that's just the cats.

The trip provided a very unique opportunity to see life-changing programs close-up and to enter Tanzanian schools and homes. The group visited two primary schools: Upendo and Losinoni, and two secondary schools: Muungano and Arusha Secondary. There was a blend of public and private, and urban and rural schools. Still, one thing was constant; there were thousands bright, spirited, beautiful children who simply want to learn and make their lives and communities better. Children and travelers engaged in a postcard activity where each shared stories and pictures of their homes and lives at Losinoni, and sang, played, and asked questions to learn about one another at Upendo. Multiple home visits, including a visit to a traditional Maasai home, afforded the opportunity to better understand the culture in an authentic, unfiltered way.

The game park visits were extraordinary and offered the chance to see some of the famed wildebeest migration, as well as hundreds of other animals from the tiny dik dik to the mighty lion. Venturing out among a field of elephants is truly a life-changing, awe-inducing moment.

As we conclude this year's trip, we're already planning for next year. There's certainly something in the air in Africa. The smell of smoke from cooking fires and fragrant flowers mix with sounds of calling birds and the occasional distant drum. Yes, there's something magic in Tanzania and it's not just in the air; it's in the people. We hope each and every one of you can join us soon and experience it for yourself. Our 2012 trip will take place in June 2012 and will be a family-friendly trip. For more information on AfricAid and Africa Adventure Consultant's 2012 trip, please click here or e-mail elizabeth@africaid.com.

Ashley Shuyler selected as one of Denver's "40 Under 40"

Ashley Shuyler has been selected as one of Denver's "Forty Under 40" by the Denver Business Journal, an honor that recognizes business leaders whose efforts in the community are shaping the future of the Denver area. The award, now in its 15th year, honors business leaders whose efforts in the office and in the community are shaping the future of the Denver area. Honorees are selected on the basis of three criteria: business leadership, recognition of accomplishments and community involvement. As quoted in the Journal, Ashley recognized early on the value of an education, and “realized there could be nothing better than giving girls my own age the chance to go to school.” The article goes on to note that, under her direction, AfricAid has raised more than $1 million and provided educational assistance to some 40,000 young Tanzanians. AfricAid is proud to have Ms. Shuyler’s work recognized through this prestigious award. Click here to read the article!

AfricAid’s Impact in 2010

AfricAid would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you!” to all of its supporters for making the following educational opportunities possible for Tanzanian students in 2010:

• Kisa Project launched! AfricAid’s Kisa Project is a girls’ scholarship and leadership training program that helps young African women become leaders in their communities and nation. Kisa Scholars communicate monthly with their American sponsors through kisaproject.org.

• Within the first four months of the program, Kisa Scholars started their own small-scale social business to teach computer skills to women and students in their communities.

• The Teaching in Action teacher training program received support and recognition from the Open Society Institute and Planet Wheeler (Lonely Planet Foundation).

• Dr. Frances Vavrus led the fourth successful year of Teaching in Action, with 70 Tanzanian teachers learning how to use participatory, student-centered teaching methods. These teachers have improved the quality of education for thousands of Tanzanian students.

• With the support of NComputing, AfricAid installed three low-cost computer labs in Tanzanian schools, serving over 3,000 students.

• As a result of AfricAid’s work at Losinoni Primary School in supporting classroom construction, a solar power installation, a school lunch program and textbooks, attendance has increased by 30 percent and the graduation rate has increased from 20% to 98% in just five years! Nearly 180,000 lunches were provided at Losinoni Primary School in 2010 alone.

• With grants from Western Union and the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, AfricAid outfitted vocational facilities, including a tailoring workshop and computer lab, at Muungano Vocational Secondary School in Tanzania. This program is now supporting employment in the community of Usa River.

• Several former AfricAid scholarship recipients are continuing their education at teachers and nurses training colleges.

• Tanzanian girls in AfricAid’s Kisa Project created their own digital stories, sharing their experiences and hopes for the future in 3-minute videos. See these stories at www.kisaproject.org/featured-digital-stories!

AfricAid Brings Cutting-Edge Computing to the Children of Tanzania

That’s the title of a recent case study on AfricAid’s use of innovative technology in its new Kisa Project, published by NComputing, a leading global provider of low-cost, virtual desktop technology. Led by Louis Gutierrez, AfricAid’s IT Manager, the installation of the NComputing technology in the computer labs at the first two Kisa Project schools in Tanzania has already begun to revolutionize the learning experiences of thousands of young students there. By providing low-cost, low-energy, easily maintainable PC access to students in a replicable fashion, AfricAid has made it possible for its Kisa Scholars to connect with their US sponsors through the internet, and made the benefits of modern computer technology available to all the school’s students.

AfricAid’s 2009 Successes At A Glance

December 3, 2009

Here’s a quick look at what we accomplished in 2009:

• Teaching in Action and AfricAid named one of three “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” in grant competition sponsored by Ashoka Changemakers and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 400 organizations entered and only 3 received $5,000 grants.

• Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute and bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea, secured a $10,000 donation to help launch the Kisa Project in January 2010

• Women’s Foundation of Colorado awarded $5,000 grant to the Kisa Project

• The third successful year of Teaching in Action brought student-centered and participatory teaching methods to 51 undertrained secondary school teachers. The teachers have, in turn, impacted the lives of 1,100 students in their schools.

• Solar power panel installed at Losinoni Primary School. The electricity is enough to power a light bulb, computer, printer, and several cell phones. Electricity will attract prospective teachers and will allow the school to teach more effectively.

• Attendance increased by 30 percent at Losinoni Primary School, due in large part to AfricAid’s school lunch program which provides one nutritious meal to Losinoni students per day.

• Outfitted vocational facilities at Muungano Secondary School in Tanzania with a grant from Western Union. As a result, students can now take computer and secretarial courses, tailoring, business management, and entrepreneurship.

• One science lab and one computer lab constructed at Ebenezer Girls’ School outside Arusha, Tanzania with the help of AfricAid and Rockland Community Church.

• Several former AfricAid scholarship students are continuing their education and teachers’ and nurses’ colleges. One such student, Theresia, was the first woman in her village to go to secondary school and is now studying to become the first female teacher in her village.

• Kisa Film Festival introduced the Denver community to the Kisa Project and the power of the digital storytelling, which will connect Kisa Scholars to their U.S. partner families and groups starting 2010. The 12 short films made by Coloradans with connections to Africa can be viewed here.

AfricAid’s New Kisa Project Featured on Colorado Public Radio

November 20, 2009

Ashley Shuyler had the opportunity to talk today about AfricAid’s new Kisa Project on CPR’s Colorado Matters on November 20th. Click here and scroll to November 20, 2009 to listen to the interview with Ashley Shuyler

The program also featured short segments from several of the digital stories created by 12 Coloradans about their various connections to Africa that were screened last month at AfricAid’s Kisa Film Festival at Denver’s Starz Film Center at the Tivoli. Videos like these will be an important aspect of the Kisa Project, helping to both better educate those in the U.S. with the realities of life in Africa, as well as create a meaningful and immediate connection between the Kisa Scholars in Tanzania and their American sponsors. The complete videos can be viewed here.

Greg Mortenson Endorses and Launches AfricAid’s new Kisa Project

September 20, 2009

“My real heart has always been in Africa. I often say I’m African– which causes confusion here in the U.S,” Greg Mortenson told a gathering of a hundred AfricAid supporters at Red Rocks Amphitheater on September 20th. The child of two missionary parents, Mortenson spent the first 15 years of his life in Tanzania. “I was so blessed to grow up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro,” he reminisced.

Mortenson, the New York Times bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea and 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee for his work promoting education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, returned to his roots in Tanzania to help launch AfricAid’s new girls’ scholarship and leadership program, the Kisa Project. During the event, Mortenson gave a resounding and heart-felt endorsement of the new AfricAid program– which gives high school scholarships to girls, enrolls them in a two-year leadership training program, and connects them to their sponsors in the U.S. through an interactive website.

Mortenson spoke about his deep commitment to girls’ education, both in Central Asia and East Africa, and announced that he had already secured a $10,000 donation to help launch the Kisa Project in January 2010. Quoting the famous proverb in the original Swahili, “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate an entire community,” Mortenson said that women are about three times likelier than men to return to their communities after getting an education. “They teach their mothers how to read and write. They become bridges and advocates for their people, ” he said.

“If you really want to change a culture, empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality– the answer is to educate girls.”

Mortenson also gave an inspiring update about his organization, the Central Asia Institute, which has started to build schools in the most remote communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan– in regions where even the U.S. military is unable to maintain a presence. In a telling statement about the power of using education to build peace, Mortenson said, “I often tell people that fighting terrorism is based in fear, but building peace is based in hope. The real enemy is ignorance.”