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!
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.
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 Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter,Tumblr, Google+, 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
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
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 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ 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!
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.
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.
“I started teaching because of something I felt inside of me at a very young age. When I was growing up, I saw so many children suffering, including myself, because of the lack of education in my area. I came from a poor family and my parents could not raise the funds for the various school fees. So reluctantly I stayed at home, until my parents could find the money to pay for our books and uniforms. I did not take my education for granted, so when I finished my O-Level education, I decided to join the College of Early Childhood Education and I worked as a housekeeper to put myself through school. After graduation, I began teaching and saw the same issues that I, and much of my community, faced growing up. Children from poor families couldn't attend "free" primary school because it wasn't actually free. Every student must have a uniform and textbooks, and many families could not afford those costs. Then I met Felicia and Nikki and I told them my idea of starting a school that was completely free for the students. We started with 2 students and now we have twelve! There was resistance at first from some of the elders in the community. They did not believe Saving Grace would work and be able to grow... but we proved them wrong. We didn't have electricity, water, desks or even walls. But thanks to Brighter Tanzania Foundation we now have a school, garden and room to grow! The community appreciates the education we are providing so much they are asking for further development of the school, possibly even start a secondary education program. Brighter Tanzania is helping the community by encouraging parents to send their children to school, and hopefully creating an educated workforce.”
*Grace’s message has been translated from Kiswahili
Here at Brighter Tanzania, we strive to maintain transparency, both financially and in our work itself. We hope this blog helps to meet that end, by letting our donors, followers, and supporters know exactly what is happening within the organization and at Saving Grace.
If you are interested in learning about our financials, please see our Financials page.
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