Earlier this summer, CAP Board Member, Lori Hale, had a chance to travel to Tanzania with her husband. While she was there she visited with our Tanzania partners – all community-based women’s groups – to hear their account of how CAP Network support has benefited their work and about their visions for the future.
A scheduled personal trip to Tanzania (to climb Kilimanjaro) provided an opportunity to travel to Arusha to visit some of the CAP Network’s Tanzania partners and projects. CAP Executive Director, Claire Holloway Wadhwani, connected me to Gizaw Shibru, CAP Network Senior Advisor in Africa and Director of Operations for Farm Radio Tanzania. Gizaw arranged for Lucas and Rama (Farm Radio staff members) to arrange for the site visits and to host us – and they were exceptional hosts. We spent most of the day with them, visiting three projects. We met some amazing women and learned about their efforts and challenges in empowering vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups. Both Rama and Lucas were extremely informative and kind – clearly, Gizaw has an eye for hiring good people.
The following is a summary of what we learned at the three site visits about the benefits of inputs provided through CAP Network partnerships and their vision for their work moving forward:
”We are very thankful for the support of bicycles you provided to TRMEGA through Farm Radio in the past years. The support enabled our beneficiaries to travel long distance to visit and counsel the sick; transport water, firewood and animal feed; and transport products from income generating activities to homesteads and markets.”
– Helen Nguya, Managing Director
Helen Nguya, Managing Director of TRMEGA, met with us along with eight women involved with TRMEGA. (Helen assured us that many more women would have attended but they had family obligations on Sunday.) Helen presented an overview of the mission and main activities of TRMEGA. Helen was particularly grateful for the bicycles provided to TRMEGA members. She noted that the bicycles had actually impacted gender roles. Thanks tot he bikes, men were taking on some tasks like fetching water, gathering firewood and carrying animal feed which are traditionally women’s work.
Helen articulated three priorities:
- Ongoing support for income generating activities given the large number of potential beneficiaries – e.g., bicycles, packaging, sealers, etc.
- Support to purchase sewing machines and a knitting machine – 12 women have been trained on tailoring and handicrafts but there is only one sewing machine.
- Support for the construction of a training hall – i.e., the footings are already in place.
We had a chance to see the range of products produced by members of TRMEGA – purses, toiletry bags, aprons, etc. We also toured the impressive gardens and fish pond. Helen left us with a sense of awe. She is highly educated in agricultural practices, she pursued a Master’s degree in Gender and AIDS at the end of her career, and she has spent her retirement purchasing land next to her home and putting her knowledge and networks to good use. She is connected to the Slow Food movement which promotes growing of indigenous foods and small scale farming. She is also incorporating these tenets into the selection of seeds and crops for the TREMEGA beneficiaries to tend to in her plot of land.
Women in Action (WIA)
We met with the Secretary of the WIA Board, Javes Sauni, and Violet, one of their members. The Director, Regina Ntukafo, was unable to attend the meeting as she was traveling. Javes provided an overview of the main activities of WIA – micro loans through Village Community Organization Bonds (VCOB), and HIV/AIDS training.
Javes also described two areas for additional support:
- Support for youth livelihoods which would include business management training, training in basic book-keeping, and skills training (e.g., sewing, welding, carpentry).
- Support for a youth empowerment initiative to deal with youth alcohol and other drug abuse. The Secretary described this initiative as one where WIA would work with local police authorities to identify at-risk youth and then provide training through the schools.
The Director has submitted a project proposal for Youth Empowerment Initiatives on Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. They are also eagerly awaiting a decision from Global Affairs Canada on a large-scale CAP Network Program which would provide them (and 11 other partners in the region) with significant capacity building opportunities and support the expansion of their efforts within the community.
“We thank CAP Aids for giving us bicycles which have helped in a lot of different ways – carrying water, carrying vegetables and fruit that we grow to the market, and carrying the group’s products after we have received orders from our customers.”
– Anna Ismail, Director, MORINGE
Anna Ismail and one of the MORINGE Board members hosted us along with six women involved in the group. Anna gave a speech in Swahili which was simultaneously translated by Lucas. Group members customize traditional Maasai shoes and scarves with beads, or re-design the cloth into skirts and tops. As well, they are small-scale farmers who sell vegetables and fruits at the market. Their work has been supported through the provision of a small fleet of bicycles donated through CAP Network partnerships.
Anna described four priorities for future support:
- Project funding to support the group and participating families – school fees, family expenses, etc.
- Support for sewing machines – they have six women who are trained in sewing but they do not have a sewing machine.
- Support for a milling machine, and/or cows for members to improve farming incomes