Brighter Tanzania Foundation

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  • Friday, December 18, 2015 8:27 PM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

            Last week it was announced that newly elected President J​ohn Magufuli will be abolishing secondary school fees in Tanzania, effective January 2016. This move has resulted in a lot of controversy, namely resistance from school administrators who fear they will not be able to run their schools adequately without tuition from students. However, the vast majority are pleased with the president's decision, as it means greater educational opportunity for millions of children. We fall into the latter group; compulsory secondary education without school fees enables more children to attend secondary school, increasing their knowledge as well as their opportunities in life. Eliminating fees increases the chances that underserved groups will be able to enroll and attend school beyond the primary level, which currently only 25% of the school aged population is able to do.

    Although tuition for secondary school enrollment has been abolished, this does not eliminate expenses associated with attending school such as books, uniforms and school supplies. So, while this is a huge step forward for the Tanzanian education system, there are still thousands of impoverished students. An increase in secondary school enrollment also begs the question - how will this be funded? Without increased funding available, schools will either have to increase the number of teachers or make do with a higher student-to-teacher ratio. Eliminating fees for secondary school is a step forward for Tanzania, but change can’t stop there.

    A positive effect of this presidential action is the potential to not only increase the educated populace but the percentage of English speakers as well. Currently, Kiswahili is the language of instruction, with an English class being taught at some, though not all, schools. Higher enrollment in secondary school means a higher percentage of the population learning English. In the western world, speaking English is something we take for granted. For individuals in the developing world, proficiency in English can mean the difference between poverty and prosperity. Education and professional opportunities available to bilingual English speakers are remarkably higher than for monolingual Kiswahili speakers. Not only could obtaining an English speaking job bring someone out of poverty, it has the potential to bring Tanzania as a whole out of poverty. The current education system creates only a small amount of educated, truly qualified professionals. At independence, there were just a handful of doctors and engineers left in the country. While there are more degree holding individuals in TZ today, the "brain drain" is still a detrimental phenomenon - educated individuals are emigrating away from their homelands in search of more prosperous opportunities. Needless to say, the infrastructure has severely suffered due to this.

    We applaud Tanzania’s new ruling, but we know that this is only the first step to expanding access to education and ensuring opportunities for all Tanzanians. In keeping with BTF’s goals to provide education to all Tanzanians, our schools provide students with education as well as additional necessary resources such as books, uniforms, school lunches, and boarding for students who need it most. By providing truly free education for these children by covering the extra costs of their schooling, we are able to provide peace of mind to the students and their parents who worry about being able to afford their educational expenses. Since students won’t need to worry about money, they will be more focused on learning, which will enrich their educational experience. Being more immersed in the learning process will not only prepare our students for their tests, but also for life outside the classroom. We plan to have Saving Grace include a secondary school by 2020 and know that the same challenges we have now will still be applicable at that time - although technically the education is free, we want to ensure our students do not have to pay anything at all to attend our school and will be able to receive the additional materials they need free of charge. By enabling more students to enroll in our secondary school, we are also helping other public schools in the area reduce crowding and increase the quality of education that is provided. With your help, we can continue to fund Saving Grace and ensure that we are prepared to expand our role into secondary education and beyond.

  • Saturday, July 25, 2015 4:30 PM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    With summer halfway over, we thought we’d take a minute to update all of our followers on our fundraising progress.

    To date, we’ve raised over $700 towards building the library.  This means we are over 70% funded!

    The library is going to be a great resource for Saving Grace students.  At present, the students lack any reading materials, so they don’t get practice outside of class time.  With the installation of the library, students will be able to bring home books to practice their reading and comprehension skills outside of the classroom.  Access to books also means access to new ideas and a great way to engage their imaginations.

    We recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds in order to install a water tank.  As of today, we’ve raised $120, which is 24% of our goal reached.

    The water tank is extremely important.  In order for Saving Grace to register as a boarding school, certain qualifications must be met, including access to safe, clean water.  By installing a water tank, we are ensuring this access, as well as the success of the school.  Clean water not only means the ability to board students–it is a necessary component for personal hygiene, cooking, and drinking.

    While this is a great start, we are still far from raising the $30,000 we originally intended to raise this summer.  We are presently working on some great fundraising events for the fall.  Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks!

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2015 11:00 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Recently, the first dorm room at Saving Grace was completed.  This was a huge accomplishment, as it brings us one step closer to boarding students in need, particularly orphaned children.

    However, in order to begin boarding, the school needs to be registered as a boarding school.  Registration requires the school to meet certain requirements, such as having beds, proper dishes and other utensils, proper cooking equipment, and finally, a safe, reliable water source.

    To date, we have fulfilled all but one of the requirements–a water source.  Therefore, we have launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise the necessary funds for a water tank.

    Learn more on our IndieGoGo campaign page.

    Water tanks like the one that will be installed at Saving Grace.

  • Friday, June 19, 2015 8:30 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Over the last few months, the staff at Brighter Tanzania Foundation have been working diligently to raise the funds necessary to finish the first dorm room at Saving Grace Boarding School. Two weeks ago, that goal was finally achieved.

    Last week, Grace was able to purchase the mattresses, bedding, carpet, and draperies needed to finish the dorm room. It is now ready for students to begin moving in. However, before this can happen, Saving Grace needs to be registered as a boarding school. Luckily, this is a fairly easy process in Tanzania, and requires little more than proving to officials that the school has obtained and will provide the appropriate materials to adequately care for its boarding students.

    When boarding begins, four students will share the dorm room with Grace and her two children. While that may sound cramped, this arrangement is in the students best interests. By having their teacher nearby at all times, Saving Grace students will always have a mentor at hand, to provide guidance and activities to help develop their potential. Moreover, by emulating the home environment most of our students are used to, we can provide a space where students feel safe, loved, and appreciated.

    Take a look at the photos of the completed dorm room!

  • Friday, May 01, 2015 1:30 PM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Today is the official start of our biggest fundraising campaign to date.  Over the next two months, we’ll be sharing lots of updates on our progress.

    So far, we’ve contacted about 50 corporate sponsors.  In the coming weeks we will be canvassing in and around our corporate headquarters in Middleton, Wisconsin.  As our funds grow, we will let you know exactly what they will pay for.

  • Friday, April 03, 2015 10:00 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of things you can do to help us out and spread the word:

    – Are you following us on social media? We have a FacebookPinterestTwitter,TumblrGoogle+LinkedIn and an Etsy shop too!
    – Tell your friends about us! Word of mouth really does help.
    – If you’re in the Madison area, we have regular fundraising events! Contact us if you’re interested, and we can let you know when the next one is.
    – Donate – even a few dollars helps!
    – Stay in touch. We’re setting up an email list, so if you want to keep updated on our progress, you can sign up for the email list here.
    – Give us your feedback! We’re a budding organization – and we always want to know how we’re doing. Questions and Suggestions are always welcome – drop us a line!
    – Volunteer! You can do this from anywhere in the world.
    – Choose us as your nonprofit of choice on Amazon Smile. For anything eligible that you order, Amazon will donate a portion of the sale to us.

    Whether you help a little or a lot, everything is appreciated.

    Contributed by Jane Leuchter, Research and Compliance Director

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015 9:06 PM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    WOW! On behalf of everyone at Brighter Tanzania, I want to thank every single one of you that helped out at the Book Fair. The sales in our honor totaled $886.80!

    Thanks to your generosity, there have been a lot of changes and improvements in the school recently, including hooking up the electricity, obtaining bunk beds, and having more students enrolled than ever before. We are in the process of raising enough funds to create a library, dining room, and another classroom.

    All of your help has done tremendous things for these students! Keep an eye out to see what else we will have in store for you all! 

    Contributed by Nicole Owen, Development Director

  • Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:00 PM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Brighter Tanzania will be having a book fair! Join us at Barnes and Noble, East Towne Mall on Saturday, February 21st from 1-5 PM. Come enjoy free activities and story time. A percentage of the net sales made at the book fair will be contributed to Brighter Tanzania and will support Saving Grace.

    If you can’t make it, you can always support us by shopping online the week of the book fair. Go to and shop as you normally would. When you reach the payment page, tick the box for “Check this box if it is a bookfair order.” Then, simply enter our book fair ID number: 11561396.

    We hope to see you there!

  • Thursday, February 05, 2015 5:00 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    Its one month into the new term for students in Tanzania.  At this time, Saving Grace has 22 students enrolled.  However, our retention of students is lacking.  Because we do not offer grade 1, a few of our best and brightest students have moved on to other schools, including beloved Bakari, and future teacher Gift.  We are excited that they have the opportunity to continue their education, but are saddened to see them go.

    We are on our way to expanding educational opportunities for Saving Grace students by hiring more teachers.  This will, of course, depend on funding, as we cannot currently provide a full salary to another educator.  Although the salary for a teacher in Tanzania is approximately US$1470, current sponsorships and donations will not cover it.

    A school library is also in the works.  Presently, the student’s only reading material is their workbooks.  They have no stories to read, and therefore get little practice.  Grace has been in touch with the local carpenter who built the desks; he has started working on building bookshelves to line the library walls.  We hope to also procure a few chairs and a desk.

    We are constantly looking for ways to improve the school so that our students recieve the best education possible, but we can’t do it alone.  It is only with the help of our donors that we have come this far.

  • Saturday, January 24, 2015 9:11 AM | Felicia McKenzie (Administrator)

    As a kid I knew I wanted to do something important. I remember laying in bed at night wondering how one went about joining PETA or working for Habitat for Humanity. My mother had a big influence in this. She was always donating to cause, pledging a monthly gift, lending a hand, and giving her time to make sure others didn’t go without.

    I also remember having a keen interest in Africa. I wanted nothing more than to go on safari; I wanted to taste exotic foods and dance exotic dances, listen to music created only by drums, meet people who might teach me the lore of their forefathers.

    I latched onto this interest, and eventually decided to pursue it in college. As an anthropology major, I wanted to know everything I could about the magnificent cultures of Africa.

    Throughout college, my passion for helping others never deteriorated, and in fact only became stronger. I decided I wanted to combine my passions for African culture and providing aid to others by volunteering abroad.

    So I did. I traveled to Tanzania with one of my best friends and taught at an English medium school in Arusha. i can only describe it as one of the most amazing, most important experiences of my life. Staying in Tanzania opened up a whole new world to me. It was nothing like I expected from reading my anthropology, history, and cultural studies books. It was so much more. I never thought I would fall in love with so many people, but I fell in love with everyone I met. The Tanzanian people were so gracious, so intelligent, so determined and courageous. I loved the students even more. Each story I earned about their lives was more touching than the last. Every single one stole my heart.

    Its still in Tanzania even now.

    Perhaps because I loved so many of the people I met, I wanted nothing more than to continue helping them in any way I could. Other volunteers in our homestay felt the same way. Much discussion led us to a very disheartening conclusion, however: voluntourism wasn’t the answer. Why were we, white people, mzungu’s, flying halfway around the world to provide a service which there were already plenty of people to provide? Why were we spending thousands of dollars to help these people when we we could have just given that money to locals to help themselves? And why did it take visiting a country miles and miles from home for us to begin asking these questions?

    I thought for a long time on what might be the best way to aid the people I had fallen so hard for. I have always been a believer in the power of education, and I knew there must be some way to aid these wonderful people through as such; I just didn’t know what.

    Then, in February of 2014, everything came together. It began when I  received an email from Grace. It read, “Dear friends, I have a plan! [And] I need your cooperation!”

    In a follow up email, she explained:

    “Through profession: I am a teacher my friends. Since 2008. Through this profession I want to help the society by helping those who lives in hard situation. I shall require much and orphaned children...

    My plan: should assist/help the society. Though this plan I cant do myself without getting cooperation from different members, especially you my friends, to reach the goals of helping the society.

    So my dear friends, shortly that is what I decided to share with you! So I must having a learning centre which may help these kids to get knowledge and skills which may raise up their life.  So I have to start with nursery section and as years go I will start the primary sections so that my pupils will not suffer for looking for primary school after graduating nursery.”

    I was hesitant at first to help her. Opening and funding a school would be so much work, and although I believe strongly in education, I had to admit that this was something I knew very little about.

    But the more I thought on it, the more sense it made. Not only would we be giving Grace a greater chance at advancing her career, we had the potential to offer education to whomever we so desired. Given my history, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of helping marginalized individuals, those who, in Tanzania, rarely receive an education. Slowly, it became apparent that not only could I help the people of the Tanzania, but it could be done sustainably by offering jobs and income to locals--it wasn’t necessary to find mzungu’s to do the job.

    I contacted Grace the day I made this decision and informed her I was ready to help. We got to work immediately, and I’ve never looked back.

    Since that day, my entire world has changed. I have put my heart and soul into this mission; I have met so many amazing people who care about educating the less fortunate as much as I do; and I have fallen in love again and again, with each and every student Grace introduces me to. I look forward to seeing those smiling faces every day when I open my new emails, and I can’t wait to see them face to face, to thank them for making my days brighter.

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

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