Established by congress in 1983, the National Travel and Tourism week aims to celebrate tourism within the United States. During this week, companies across the world conduct business with the united states, generating deals worth more than $4.7 billion with the United States. Of course, these countries host travel opportunities of their own, and Tanzania is no exception. Over the course of this week, we will highlight a variety of noteworthy and fun travel destinations found across Tanzania, starting today with the Serengeti.
Photo Credit: Madeline Gerlach
If you ever happen to be in Tanzania without any plans, the Serengeti always promises excitement and adventure. Located primarily in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti is one of the most diverse, well known, and amazing ecosystems on the planet, covering roughly 12,000 sq. miles. Home to an enormous variety of animal life, the Serengeti has been named one of the 10 Natural Wonders of the World for its unique and breathtaking ecosystem.  Seeing the Serengeti is an unforgettable experience for many reasons, and will always be a destination worth visiting.
The Serengeti is perhaps most well-known for its Great Migration. Every January, this annual cycle begins with over 2 million animals, including zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles starting their journey in the southern Serengeti. Following the availability of food, these animals make their way around the Serengeti, moving along the border in a clockwise position, with the annual migration beginning in the southern portion in February. The sheer number of animals involved makes it the largest land migration on the planet, meaning that no matter when you observe this event, you will be sure to observe the incredible power of nature. Along with the animals of the Great Migration, the Serengeti is home to a wide variety of animals, including predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas alongside grazers such as gazelles, giraffes, and buffalo.
Photo Credit: Steph Walczak
The environment as well never fails to change, with large portions of the Serengeti being virtually unrecognizable from the next. Rather than just a flat landscape, altitudes in the Serengeti range from 3,000 feet to 6,070 feet above sea level , meaning that rock formations and large hills stand out in the horizon behind its open, grass filled plains. Along the southeastern and southwestern borders lie shrubbed forests, offering refuge for life not found elsewhere in the Serengeti. Perhaps the most notable feature among the landscape is the Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only active volcano in the region. The Ol Doinyo Lengai remains the only volcano that ejects a carbonatite lava, which turns white when exposed to the air. All in all, the Serengeti is not one giant, flat grassland, but a diverse and varied landscape offering much to explore.
So why should you visit the Serengeti? Its wildlife is so abundant and grand that it is the only location on Earth where you can a migration of its size. Depending on the amount of time you spend there, you are likely to see a large variety of animals, from the famous lions and elephants to lesser known elands and dik-diks. In your travels, you will encounter an ever-changing landscape, meaning every memory and photograph is unique. Should you get a chance, the Maasai Tribe, likely the most well-known inhabitants of the Serengeti, offer a culture that is sure to be an eye opener, whether it's a traditional song and dance or their generous hospitality. Should you get the opportunity, the Serengeti will offer an experience unlike anywhere else found on Earth.
Celebrated on April 23rd of every year, World Book and Copyright Day was started in 1995 by UNESCO and was chosen because it was on “this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died” . The goal of World Book Day is to focus on and inspire young people to read for pleasure and “gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity” .
Since 2000, UNESCO and other international collaborators have named a city to be the World Book Capital for one year, until the next April 23. The cities are chosen for their past work in promoting literacy and reading, as well as for their current and future commitment to providing literacy, education, and reading materials to all . This year, the World Book Capital is Conakry, Guinea, on the coast of West Africa. Will a city in East Africa or even Tanzania be next?
At Saving Grace, we celebrated World Book Day by promoting reading for fun to the students. Because we have been able to build and expand our library, the students have much more reading material than they used to. We are committed to continuing to provide free and educational reading materials that they can enjoy anytime. Check out some of the library pictures below!
 World Book and Copyright Day. UNESCO. https://www.un.org/en/events/bookday/.
 UNESCO World Book Capital. UNESCO. http://en.unesco.org/world-book-capital-city.
 All photographs copyright Felicia McKenzie. Used with permission.
Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss a fine fella… and so goes the rhyme chanted by schoolgirls with jump rope in hand. The rhymes may differ from one place to the next but the playground pastime, jump rope, is cross cultural.
In some African countries children play a game called stockings. It uses a girl’s stockings or perhaps a rope. The girls swing the rope first at the ankles, next at the knees and then slowly higher and higher. A jumper’s turn ends when the rope reaches the necks of the girls swinging or the jumper can jump no higher, whichever comes first. (4)
In addition to jump rope, children across Africa enjoy other games played the world over including hide-and-seek and leapfrog. Circle games are also popular as are games that employ singing and clapping.
On quiet days, it is common to find children playing mancala, a game that harkens back to ancient times in Africa. The game is played with a board carved out of ivory or wood or even temporarily drawn in the dirt. Mancala’s popularity has been exported; variations of it are now played in nearly every country around the globe. (3)
Unlike children in western countries, African children frequently use homemade toys in their play. For example, boys can be found playing with hoops from the rims of tires and girls with homemade dolls. (3) Children sometimes make their own balls too. Prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, photographer Jessica Hilltout documented Africans’ love for the game of football during a seven-month sojourn across the continent. A number of her photos pictured the homemade balls that many children in Africa make with items that they find - bark, rags, rope - and a bit of ingenuity. (1)
Football is probably the most popular sport among children in African countries. Others that they enjoy are basketball, volleyball, cricket, rugby and wrestling. (3)
Another activity that continues to grow in popularity with African kids is called capoeira. It is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. Played in a circle, it teaches children about discipline, respect and working in groups. (3) Click on the following link to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlRfGGIbMcc
UNICEF cites sports and play as two important tools for promoting health and preventing disease. Early childhood, especially, is the most essential time for brain development according to researchers. Athletic activities aid communication, education, and social interaction. As UNICEF notes on their website: “Children around the world are naturally drawn to sport and play, and they can engage all children, even the poorest and most marginalized, to have fun and enjoy their childhood.” (2)
On Saturday, March 25th we hosted a Silent Auction Fundraiser in Greeley, Colorado with a wonderful selection of items and a great turnout. Jane Leuchter, our Research & Compliance Director, grew up in Greeley and worked with her mother Gin to organize the event.
Jane spoke on Pirate Radio 104.7 on Friday morning before the event, talking to the hosts of Greeley’s Morning Guys, Big Kahuna and George, about how Brighter Tanzania was formed, how she got involved, and details about when and where the event would be happening.
The John Mills Orchestra Octet, an eight-piece local jazz band, livened the place up by playing their wide range of jazz songs as attendees placed bids on the 80+ donations. Jane’s father Fred plays guitar regularly with the John Mills Orchestra, and said they enjoy getting together and jamming so they were happy to pitch in and play for the fundraiser.
Dozens of local businesses and artists donated items to the silent auction, ranging from hand-thrown pottery vases to Eagles hockey tickets to cat-themed gift baskets to beautiful watercolor paintings. There were also smaller items like Brighter Tanzania shirts available for immediate sale at a table that also held information about our students and sponsorship program.
The Greeley Tribune wrote an article about the event focusing on Jane's family and their local connections: Greeley family ties help in putting on fundraiser for school children in Tanzania. The piece features interviews with Jane and her parents, Fred and Gin.
We raised $2,648 total at the event. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make this fundraiser a success!
On World Water Day, global activists ask us to think before we drink. What can you do?
Every March 22, World Water Day encourages us to think about how crucial clean drinking water is, and who doesn't have it.
Not all water is drinkable. Sea water must be desalinated before it's drinkable, and pollution has limited the fresh water that's drinkable. Climate change is also beginning to shift world water distribution, and some regions are gradually becoming more arid. It's estimated that 1 in 4 children in 2040 will live in areas with limited access to any water, never mind clean water.
At Saving Grace Day and Boarding School, we use water tanks to make sure our students have clean water to drink. This expense is provided for by donors, but some places aren't so fortunate.
Water is used for so much, not only is it vital for life, it's also the primary means of caring waste as sewage, it's used in mining and other industrial operations, and in agriculture, to name just a few functions. In developed countries, especially those with strict regulations, there's laws and infrastructure to limit pollution, and filter water. It's not perfect, but it does help protect people and the environment. In developing countries, there's often less infrastructure and less regulation. This means that somethings that are taken for granted in the US, or Europe, don't work as well in poorer nations like Bangladesh or Mozambique.
Sewage systems have especially had trouble translating. It's one thing to set up residential plumbing and install toilets, it's quite another to build waste treatment facilities and install enough plumbing and sewage systems to control the water in a whole city or even a whole region. It is much cheaper to channel waste to a nearby river and let the river carry the waste away. Yet those same rivers provide drinking and washing water, which encourages the spread of water-borne diseases. Fortunately there's a growing trend to find effective water-less toilets.
What can you do?
1. Conserve water.
I know, you've heard it a thousand times. That's because it's such a good idea. Water travels around the world, across oceans, and filtered through marshes and swamps to move through rivers and streams. It evaporates in one place and comes down as rain somewhere else. Water wasted in one place is water denied another place. Drinking water is especially precious, as there is far less drinkable water than there is polluted or salty water.
What are the simplest ways to conserve water?
a) Recycle. Water is a key component in mining, industrial and manufacturing processes. Even a plastic bottle represents a significant amount of resources. By recycling, some of those resources, including water, are conserved.
b) Don't waste food. Agriculture and livestock use up a LOT of water. That water is wasted when your scraps get tossed in the trash. There's a million creative ways to plan a head to that you get tasty, attractive leftovers. Here are 17 recipes to get you started.
c) Use less water. My favorite, put bricks or full bottles in your toilet tank to use less water when you flush. You'll never know it's there, and you'll save money.
2. Help organizations and companies that are helping water-stressed regions. Not wasting our own water is a great step, one everyone should consider taking. A fantastic second step is considering our global water crisis. There are hundreds of organizations that help different regions with water scarcity, water born despises, water infrastructure, and portable water solutions. I encourage everyone to do their own research, to find an organization they like best. Here are some well known organizations to get you started.
a) Charity Water
d) More great organizations.
3. Support clean energy alternatives. Pollution travels because water and air travel in a complex weather system around the globe. The carbon, methane, and other chemicals in our atmosphere are contributing to climate change, which is rapidly causing some regions of the world to become much more arid. When you support alternative energy sources, like wind, solar, and nuclear, you help reduce our dependence on coal and oil.
With so much of our focus and attention on economic growth and GDP performance, it can be easy to get caught up measuring progress in raw numbers. Sometimes it becomes so easy, in fact, that we lose sight of the mere thought of how happy we actually are. Increasingly, there is a push for an awareness of how happy we as humans actually are, and that how happy we are should also be a measurement of how much we have progressed as a civilization.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.” All 193 United Nations member states have adopted the resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority. As such, it was decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on March 20th. This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 2013, and we continue to observe it today. Be happy, be healthy, and never lose sight of the pursuit of happiness!
Tell us a little bit about who you are.
My name is Elise McKenney. I live alone with my dog. My husband passed away several years ago, and my daughter lives with her boyfriend. I previously had my goddaughter live with me for a short time, and another young girl lived with me for a while as well. I was in a foster home as a child, and I have always loved kids!
Who do you sponsor, and what can you tell us about them?
I sponsor a female named Dorcas Lazaro, who is seven years old.
She likes to take care of the younger children, she wants to be a doctor or a teacher when she grows up, she takes her learning lessons seriously, and I know that her favorite color is yellow. She enjoys going to school and she likes learning.
How long have you been sponsoring?
I dunno! Like what, three months? Yeah, it’s been three months.
What were some of the factors that influenced you to become a sponsor?
My work has a week of--a week where they try to get everybody to participate in helping nonprofits. I’m a volunteer for a dog rescue nonprofit, and so I was looking for something else to be a part of. And then after reading some of the stuff about the Brighter Tanzania Foundation I thought it might be a good fit so I talked to my sisters. We were thinking about going in together, and then I thought that there were more people in my family that would like to sponsor but don’t have enough enough money to sponsor themselves. So I opened it up to everyone in my family and I was really proud of the children in my family who were willing to help out another child.
They were not aware that other kids were not able to just go to school like they were here and they were all very excited to just pitch in and help her!
How was the process of becoming a sponsor?
I was so excited! The actual application process was very simple, and it didn’t take very long. I received emails providing information on the child I and my family were sponsoring along with some picture and it was so very heartwarming! It was such a good feeling when I saw her picture; I just wanted to give her a hug!
How has your sponsorship affected you and your family?
For me it has been really heart warming and it just felt so dang good! Some of the others and I did a little shopping and went and bought her just a few little inexpensive things to send and all of the kids wrote letters to her just to tell her a little bit about themselves. The adults wrote letters and provided some pictures.
I think it’s been rewarding so far, it just takes a long time for the mail to get there but we’re hoping hear from her again soon!
Would you say sponsorship has changed your outlook on life?
I think yeah, to the point where it really makes us grateful for what we have and I think to really think about what it would be like to live in another country. There are so many things we take for granted is the whole thing, and it makes us more grateful for what we have.
What would you tell other people who were considering sponsoring a student?
It’s very rewarding and as far as the financial the stuff I checked out--as far as the financials, all of the information is available for people so you know exactly where the money is going. Just a very, very rewarding and nice experience.
So you would tell them to go for it?
Oh, absolutely! Just do it!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The thing for me is just that it’s a very rewarding experience to know that our money - even though it’s not lot - is able to give an education to a child who might not otherwise have access and it’s a very good feeling. You know, there are other things we can all spend our money on but this just so rewarding. It’s an awesome experience for the kids to be a part of, too. And my family is very close so this is just one more thing we can experience in life together.
Every March 8th, International Women’s Day raises awareness of the continued need to push for gendered equity around the world. This year, the theme is #beboldforchange. Yet the campaign leaves “how” open to activist interpretation.
Tanzanian women know how. Tanzanian women activist groups have been determinedly pushing for social, political, economic and health improvements since the country’s founding in 1964. They’ve won significant victories, including raising the minimum age for brides to 18. Child marriage is now illegal in Tanzania thanks to tireless activists.
Here are the top five issues Tanzanian women are fighting for:
Property rights & land rights: The central focus of this fight is educating rural women on their existing property rights, and pushing for more inclusive, fair laws. Despite a 2014 constitution change to increase women’s access to land inheritance, it’s still not the norm. It’s not traditional, and most women access land and property through a husband, brother, son, or father. If that male relative dies, the land could be seized, and the woman loses her farm, business or house. These challenges are compounded if the woman is illiterate or if the family has no paperwork to validate their claim to the land. Activist groups hold workshops to educate communities on land rights. A side benefit of this struggle is that the flaws in the land registration process (corruption, inefficiency, complexity) are being reveled, and new technology is being developed to make it easier to register property.
Regional trade access: Increasing access for East African business women to regional trade is a newer issue. A bill recently passed by East African Community (EAC) partner states, is intended to address women's safety in border areas, increase economic opportunities and legal support for women entrepreneurs, and remove gendered barriers to trade. Women empowerment groups have been fighting for this issue for several years. The participating governments also want to see women's businesses succeed, as that means an increase in regional trade, economic growth and job creation. However the means by which this bill could achieve these goals has not been clearly described, partly due to a lack of data on how many traders are women, and how exactly women are affected. There's also no clear way to hold participating states accountable to increasing women's access to trade. At the very least, this bill could be a vital stepping stone to increasing visibility on the issue.
Bookkeeping and entrepreneurial skills: Many women in Tanzania, whether rural or urban, find it necessary to start their own businesses to have work and earn enough money to care for their families. Even when their husbands have work, one income isn’t enough to support a household. Women are also significantly more likely to invest more of their income back into their families. On average, women in developing countries spend 80 cents of every dollar on family needs, while men, on average spend 30 cents. This means that the success of women’s’ business is critical for children’s health and education. Additionally, as the number of women owned business increases, as well as the number of wife-managed businesses increases, women have more economic power to voice their opinions and concerns in the public sphere.
However, these entrepreneurs often have no experience or training and struggle to scale their business. To address this challenge, a wide range of women’s empowerment groups, businesses and international organizations offer programs to offer mentorship, training and resources. Ensuring women have the skills and resources need to succeed professionally is critical for advancing several agendas, such as women’s rights, children’s’ health & education, as well as national poverty reduction and economic growth.
Reproductive Rights: Tanzania, like other east African countries, has made a deliberate effort to improve the quality and reach of its medical infrastructure . With the help of NGOs, there has been some success, but there is still a chronic shortage of medical professionals and medical infrastructure. This deficiency disproportionately affects women, as sexuality, birth control, and menstruation are taboo topics. Even when clinics with birth control options are available to teen girls, they may not seek out these services for fear of censure. It is also commonplace for public schools to expel pregnant students. Over 50% of all births in Tanzania take place at home. Despite innovative solutions (LINK) to help get pregnant women into clinics & hospitals, 8000 women still die in childbirth, many of which are teen girls. Human rights activists and health care NGOs, both Tanzanian & international, work to decrease social stigma and increase access to health facilities with trained professionals.
Secondary School Education: Tanzania has made exceptional progress in achieving similar enrollment rates for boys and girls in primary school. Yet there are still significant obstacles for girls to enter and complete secondary school. These include long distances to school, poverty, traditional gender expectations, pregnancy and early marriage, especially in rural areas. Tanzania has 1.5 million teenagers out of school. While primary school is critical for ensuring literacy and numeracy, it’s secondary school that opens the door to higher-paying office jobs, as well as access to university education. There is also limited access to vocational training for girls.
Women leaders in Tanzania are building schools that target disadvantaged populations. (Brighter Tanzania is lucky to work with one of those leaders, our head teacher Grace, who worked hard to get her teaching credentials and runs a free school for improvised and orphaned youth, Saving Grace Day & Boarding School.) Some of these new schools in Tanzania target teen girls who were denied education because of pregnancy or poverty.
This is a challenging issue to address, because it’s not just about discrimination. It’s about limited resources, and the challenge of how to build a fair education system with a broad reach in a nation where more than half the population is under 25. Increasing access to education has been a consistent drive for Tanzania since their founding. Yet the effects of widespread gender discrimination is a blind spot for many public schools.
The World Day of Social Justice is celebrated February 20th. The UN presents a new theme each year to focus international efforts. This year’s theme is "Preventing conflict & sustaining peace through decent work.”
This is a great theme, because it’s got several ideas wrapped up in one sound bite. Let’s unpack it a bit. Essentially, the UN, as well as other international organizations and activists, argues that:
1) People have the right to pursue safe & dignified livelihoods to support a basic living standard.
2) When people have access to and training for reliable work, regardless of gender, nationality, race, etc., then communities, nations and whole regions have the potential to prosper economically and socially.
3) When people and nations have the means to focus on growth & improvement, then there is value in reducing and preventing the sort of conflict and violence that disrupts social and economic activities.
The UN presents a long-term, large-scare vision of what the world’s future could be like if we all pull together. This vision is centered on the 2030 development goals. At Brighter Tanzania, we contribute to these goals by focusing on Tanzania. We aim to foster economic growth, improve quality of life & provide a more equitable future for Tanzanians by harnessing the power of education, nurturing students' creativity & supporting the local economy.
Quality, equitable education is critical for many of the 2030 development goals. Education is key for people to access work with a living wage and growth opportunities. At Brighter Tanzania we're tackling poverty by giving free education to kids. We provide a well-rounded education and a nurturing environment for young children so they have the foundation for success for secondary school, and then in their professional ambitions.
We offer standard academic subjects such as math, English, Swahili, and art. We also offer a “real World Learning” program which develops valuable social skills and basic vocational skills. A typical class day is composed of standard academic subjects as well as exercises to encourage teamwork, sharing, empathy, and creative problem solving.
The vocational component of our program is just getting started. Given how young our students are, we’re only teaching simple subjects, like cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc. These skills would be helpful at home. As we get older students, we plan to add more advanced subjects.
Meet Grace. Grace Silas Laizer of Saving Grace School that is. Laizer is one of only three teachers at Saving Grace and responsible for its day-to-day functioning. Having received her teacher training at the Shinyaga Campus of Musoma Utalii College, she has been teaching since 2008. Skilled teachers like Laizer are in high demand in Tanzania and elsewhere throughout Sub-Saharan Africa as the region works to embrace all children within its educational system.
In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a report on global educational goals it had set in 2000. “Education For All” was a global commitment to provide basic education to everyone. Its results shone a light on Sub-Saharan Africa where eight of its countries had fewer than 80% of children enrolled in primary school. In fact, more than half of children around the world not enrolled in school live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some good news came too - though this region in Africa continues to lag behind these international educational goals, it also saw a 75% increase in primary school enrollment between the years 1999 and 2012. (4)
With more children entering primary schools in Sub-Saharan Africa, many countries have critical teacher shortages. Rural communities have the greatest need. (2) In Tanzania, Laizer and other professionals like her complete their preparation in Teacher Training Colleges. These colleges provide three levels of training. The first is for Grade A teachers who will go on to teach pre-primary and primary students. It is a two-year program and emphasizes methodology. The second is for diploma teachers who will be trained to teach secondary students. Though able to teach at the secondary level, many diploma teachers instruct primary students because of the greater need. Diploma teachers study for two years in courses emphasizing methodology and ethics. Finally, degree teachers train for 3-4 years. They instruct in secondary schools and teacher training colleges. (3)
Even before the 2015 UNESCO report came out, Sub-Saharan Africa’s teacher shortage was recognized internationally. Between 2006 and 2015 UNESCO enacted TTISSA, a Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa. Its mission was to improve access to and quality of education by addressing teacher shortages and a lack of training resources. The strategy included four components: to improve the status and working conditions of teachers, to improve administration structures, to develop strong teacher policies, and to improve professional development. (1)
Though the challenges are many, it is people like Laizer who may help every child in Sub-Saharan Africa find a classroom seat.
Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.
Phone: (608) 886-9160
8383 Greenway Blvd PMB 633
Middleton, WI 53562