Population: 12 million
Languages: French, Susu, Fulani, Mandingo
Area: 94,926 mi²
Life expectancy: Male 58.2, female 59.8
Median age: 19 years
Literacy: 30.4% (total) 22.8% (women)
School life expectancy: 8 years for girls, 10 years for boys
Population below poverty line: 40.9% on less than $1.25 a day.
Top religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Summary: Located on the coast of west Africa, Guinea is formally known as The Republic of Guinea. This tiny nation has substantial mineral deposits, which generate a significant portion of the nation’s wealth. However, Guinea still has one of the poorest populations in west Africa. Regional instability has limited economic growth, and contributed to religious and ethnic tensions. Guinea also struggles with an overwhelming refugee population from Liberia and Sierra Leone. (1)
The recent Ebola virus had a significant impact on the Republic of Guinea. 11,000 died and 28,000 were infected. Before the outbreak in 2014, Guinea had severely underdeveloped health resources. There were high levels of maternal and infant mortality. On average it spent 9$ per capital on health, and there were fewer than 3 health workers per 20,000. This is partly why the disease spread unchecked for several months before it was detected. Another reason the disease could spread freely was because health workers were so rare, rural populations actually distrusted and avoided them. During the beginning of the outbreak, some people believed that health workers were spreading the disease. Health workers who won past this distrust created local clinics in tents near affected villages. This encouraged transparency and trust. Even so, a military presence was required to ensure quarantine compliance and health workers’ safety. (1, 5,6,7,8,9)
The outbreak strained available health resources beyond their capacity, and the Guinean Ministry of Health is still trying to repair their health system. A silver lining, perhaps, is that the intervention of foreign health care workers helped identify specific areas of improvement for the Guinean healthcare system. President Conde also mobilized hundreds of newly graduated medical students to work with Ebola patients. These young health workers now have a stake in building their health care system to prevent a similar outbreak occurring again. The process of fighting Ebola- setting up hospitals, clinics, clinical trials, marshalling and training health care workers, etc. is believed to have laid the groundwork for additional development of the Guinean healthcare system. The long-term sustainability of this groundwork remains to be seen, as donations and funding have fallen dramatically since the end of the outbreak. (1, 5,6,7,8,9)
Colonized by the French in 1891, they secured independence in 1958. The first President, Ahmed Sekou Toure remains in power until his death in 1984, when he is replaced by President Lansana Conte. In 1990, a new constitution is adopted which permits civilian leaders. 1993 ushers in the first multiparty election, in which Conte is the victor. Despite insurrections, violence, and protests, Conte remains in power until his death in 2008, whereupon the military seized control of the government. These decades of violence had crippled the economy, healthcare system, and other national infrastructure. After the assassination of the military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, there’s a gradual return to civillan rule. A contentious election in 2010 (which had to be run twice due to no clear victor) saw the eventual instatement of President Alpha Conde. Opposition supporters clashed with security forces and accused the president of rigging the presidential election and the parliamentary election. President Conde blamed the military government for emptying the nation’s treasury. In 2014 the international pandemic Ebola strikes, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. US President Barak Obama sent 3,000 military personel to build health facilities and train health workers. In 2015 President Conde wins a second term, despite accusations of irregularities. (1, 2) Ebola-related travel restrictions were lifted in 2016. (3)
Educational attainment and access to education has fluctuated over the past few decades. In general, due to high levels of poverty, and insufficient school facilities, educational resources, and low teacher-to-student ratios, Guinea has low national educational attainment. The recent ebola crisis had further destabilized fragile infastucre. Primary education is mandatory in Guinea, a policy which has increased primary school enrollment and attendance, however poverty still creates obstacles for higher education, and girls have a lower rate of primary school completion than boys. (10,11, 12, 13, 14)
A year past the ebola crisis, Guinea is still rebuilding their educational infrastructure, and it remains to be seen what post-ebola enrollment and graduation rates average out at. Before the ebole crisis, in 2012, 55% of girls and 68% of boys completed primary school. 32% of girls and 41% of boys advanced to secondary education. (10) On average, girls will spend 8 years in school, and boys will spend 10. (14)
Given the critical necessity of building their healthcare infrastructure and training the next generation of healthcare workers, experts hope that these needs will be reflected in increased resources being directed into education.
Tourism is undeniably powerful: it moves people, money and ideas around the world, and in increasingly greater numbers. It has the potential to encourage economic development in far flung places and encourage mutual, positive understanding between people who would never otherwise meet. However, it also has the potential to waste or destroy natural resources, and the wealth gap between locals and visitors in some places might accidentally create exploitative situations. (7,9,10)
Fortunately, a vibrant community of international tourism organizations and travel agencies strives for an ethical balance of the diverse needs in this growing, global industry.
In fact, every fall, World Responsible Tourism Day celebrates over a decade of advocacy for beneficial and regulated tourism around the world. This year, the theme is sustainable development. In the past, it has focused on eco-tourism and poverty reduction. This year’s theme of sustainable development, focuses on both ecological sustainability and economic sustainability- encouraging initiatives that don’t strain the environment and have a good chance at continued economic success after an initial support period. (1,2,3,7)
Advocates for ethical and responsible tourism tend to focus on areas with sensitive ecosystems or significant poverty. Yet tourism can bring benefits and challenges to any environment. Take Paris, France for an example. A wealthy city in a first-world country which is regularly flooded with tourists (some well-mannered, some not) who contribute to the city's severe congestion and other infrastructure strains. 2017 might even be a record-breaking year for tourists pouring into the city, despite concerns about terrorism. Even though tourism presents diverse challenges for the city’s infrastructure, resources and security, it remains a leading economic force, creating significant employment and business opportunities.(4)
These and other strains are also felt by newly invigorated tourism industries in developing countries and rural regions, but these areas often lack the experience, resources and existing infrastructure to meet sudden increases in demand if a location suddenly surges in popularity. Tourists' interests can be seasonal and fad-driven, creating an unreliable or volatile source of income. (5,10)
Therefore, every year, international tourist organizations gather to celebrate successes and discuss areas which need improvement or protection. Governmental agencies also focus on tourism, especially harnessing the revenue provided by tourism to fuel ecological projects and infrastructure development. The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE), organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), convened recently to review how the expansion of the tourism sector could help support and promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and fuel nation-specific economic goals. (SDG are internationally promoted goals to encourage specific kinds of growth in developing regions.) (11) An example of harnessing tourism for the greater good can be found in can be found in Tanzania, where the Responsible Tourism Tanzania (RTT) organization focuses on the nation’s unique cultural, social and economic needs. (5,8)
One such recent success story is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA)’s recent nomination for registration as a Global Geopark of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). Dr. Freddy Manongi, director general of NCAA, stated that the area would soon get its registration as a 'Unesco Geopark.' (6)
Unesco Global Geoparks' are unified geographical spaces where sites and landscapes of international significance are holistically managed to protect, educate and sustainably develop the area. There are currently 127 Unesco Global Geoparks in 35 countries. (6)
UNESCO Global Geoparks empower local communities with opportunity to develop the common goal of promoting the area's geological interests, historical trends connected to geology, or natural beauty. These geoparks are built with a grass roots prosses, involving all regional stakeholders. Dr. Manongi reported that the area gets approximately 600,000 visitors annually, about half of those local. This official registration is a chance to further local and national pride in the region and attract more international tourists. In many ways, the registration serves to validate an area, certifying it’s natural, historical and sustainable merits, so international visitors get an extra ‘feel-good’ boost for supporting a good cause and giving back to the local area. More pragmatically, the registration also provides greater international exposure. (6) Dr. Manongi and other regional leaders are hopeful that the new registration will
Shedrack began attending Saving Grace in 2014, shortly after the school opened. When he began, he suffered from rickets, a softening of the bone caused by malnutrition, and had knock-knee as a result. He was also missing many teeth, and kept his mouth closed in embarrassment.
Because his knees bowed in, it was difficult for him to walk, run, and play like the rest of the children. His mother saved up to get him surgery to straighten his legs, which took him out of school for many months while they healed.
When Shedrack was finally able to return to school, he was behind his classmates in numerous capacities: motor skills, social skills, and academics. Shedrack kept to himself more than ever, and often didn’t participate in the lessons. He was still missing many teeth, and continued to be embarrassed by their absence.
As more funding became available, BTF began providing funds for school lunches in addition to the student’s daily porridge. This meant that students began receiving the proper nutrition they needed, with fruits, vegetables, and meats added to their diets. For many students, the school became the best source of nutrition available.
Being aware of Shedrack’s situation, Grace began keeping him after school to make sure he received a well-balanced dinner. In addition, she started giving him one-on-one lessons to get him up to speed with his classmates.
A few months ago, Shedrack began playing with the other students again. He is running, playing soccer, and rough-housing. This has enabled him to make some very close friendships with a few other students.
During the last exam period, Shedrack received an average grade of a B. For the first time, he is excelling in his studies.
The cherry on top came a few weeks ago, when Grace sent a photo of Shedrack smiling. His front teeth have finally come in after more than two years. He is strong and happy like a little boy should be.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Tiffany. I live in Minnesota, I’m married, and I have two little boys. They’re both attending a Spanish immersion school that is very culturally aware and we are actively involved in our church.
Who do you sponsor, and what can you tell me about them?
I sponsor 4 people… Queen, Samwell, Naomi, and Rasul. I don’t have a lot of information on any of them except Queen because I have been sponsoring her the longest, and I have more than one letter from her. Queen likes school, her favorite color is pink, and she’s a really good artist! And they are all so cute! I love their handwriting – they all have such good handwriting! And like, you can tell that it really matters to them, they don’t take their education for granted. Kids here don’t care about their handwriting and they take their education for granted, but these kids work really hard at it.
How long have you been sponsoring?
I think it’s been a year and a half… We started in April of last year. We were sponsoring two students the first year.
Your sponsorship funds come from your church. Tell me a little bit about that.
My church is Trinity Lutheran in Lindstrom, Minnesota. My kids both go to Sunday school there and I volunteer there. As part of that I was allowed to fill out an application for an outreach endowment. Last year they got a really big donation from a lady who passed away; since it wasn’t earmarked, half of it had to go to the endowment. So I filled out the application and got approved last year for two sponsorships and this year for four. I was hoping there would be some sort of a committee or group or something to be actively involved in it, but no. And that’s how I got involved.
How has sponsoring affected you and your children?
For my children, its affected them because they see the challenges that other kids face and it teaches them how important it is to help other people. They’ve written back and forth with the kids and that’s been really fun for them to write letters to kids so far away and get letters back from kids so far away.
For me, the money isn’t coming out of my pocket… but it still feels good to be helping people and it feels good to be teaching my kids it’s important to help people.
What do you like most about being a sponsor?
This is going to sound really dumb but getting mail from the kids, and seeing how they’re doing in school! I just love their handwriting; its super cute. I have one letter that just says, “I know math.”
What would you tell other people considering sponsoring a student?
I would say that they should absolutely do it – its worth their time and money to be helping kids, and it’s rewarding for you and the kids.
Michelle Dunphy is the current Development Director for Brighter Tanzania Foundation. She’s a mom of two young boys who keep her very busy. She enjoys running (slowly!), politics, reading, board games, gardening and learning to play the ukulele. When she’s not doing Brighter Tanzania work, she’s probably geeking out over a new flower she wants to plant, playing a board game with her kids, or trying to finally get the hang of singing and playing uke at the same time.
How did you get involved with Brighter Tanzania?
I came on board with BTF back in January right before moving back home to Wisconsin. I was looking for something that would challenge me and an organization where I could make an impact. Brighter Tanzania definitely fit the bill! It has been nice spending my time dedicated to this cause. Being a smaller organization definitely has its frustrations, but these kids are just too adorable and they deserve a great start in life via education. I sponsor one of our students, Shedrack, who was recently featured in our Foundations for the Future video and learning what attending Saving Grace school has done for him brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. We can do so much there, even as a small organization. Think of what we can do as we continue to grow!
What is the most difficult or challenging part of your job?
I think the hardest part so far has been being a small organization. We are able to make a huge impact with so little, but it’d be nice to have more donor and sponsor engagement. If there is something you’d like to see us doing, let me know. We are definitely open to donor suggestions!
What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about poverty?
I think we have a moral obligation as one of the wealthiest nations in the world to help out those in need. It’s what my mother taught me - if you’re lucky enough to be able to help, then do it. And help doesn’t mean you have to be one of the wealthiest in this wealthy nation of ours. Doing something as simple as skipping a night out for dinner or your drive through Starbucks and instead donating that money to an organization such as Brighter Tanzania--think of the changes we could make if we all did that! $5 here in the US means a lot more back in Tanzania. Your coffee could be books and supplies for a few students or your dinner could be the utility bills for the month.
What is your greatest accomplishment at BTF?
Well, I’ve only been here for a little while, but I am proud of the virtual Cheetah Challenge 5k and am really looking forward to hearing about everyone’s runs! We had such great event prize donors and the energy we’ve received from our participants has been fantastic. I love that it has really helped to open people’s eyes to the struggles of children in Tanzania.
What sort of projects have you worked on in the past?
My non-profit past project is fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I have run two RunDisney challenges (19.3 miles in one weekend) for Team AFSP and fundraised over $5,000. I’ve done all sorts of things to fundraise including an eBay auction of autographed merchandise from voice actors, a virtual 5k (sound familiar?), a voice mail from voice actors raffle, etc. When I lived in Los Angeles and Seattle, I used to be a voice actor so I have lots of wonderful talented friends who donated their time to my fundraising for AFSP.
What’s one major accomplishment you’d like to see BTF achieve in the next year?
I’ve been so impressed with what the team has been able to accomplish in just three years, to go from a handful of students to over 70! I would like to see us reach our goal with “Foundations for the Future.” I cannot wait until we get our own acreage and building up so we can help even more. We are changing lives. These children now have a future that was previously unattainable. The teachers are employed. The supplies and money we spend is spent in the community, furthering the positive impact the school is making to all. I really hope you’ll join me in supporting the Foundations for the Future campaign over on Razoo. We have the power to change lives with just a few clicks. Let’s do it.
Officially known as the Republic of Rwanda, this African nation the size of Maryland has worked to overcome a tumultuous history. Most westerners will be familiar with Rwanda from the film Hotel Rwanda, a film about the Rwandan Genocide. This genocide was a government sponsored atrocity, where for 100 days the ruling ethnic Hutu massacred the Tutsis, an ethnic minority. Two decades later, the nation is still struggling to heal, as those born from mass rape come of age. (1, 3, 6)
The Rwandan Coat of Arms, from Wikimedia Commons
Rwanda has a long history of ethnic tension. In recent history, ethnic tensions were exacerbated by Belgium colonists. Hutu and Tutsi were required to carry cards identifying their ethnicity. The Belgians also supported Tutsi dominance, offering quality education and government jobs. The Hutu were typically delegated to labor roles. Near the end of their rule, the Belgians attempted to set up tribal power sharing. In 1960 a civil war drove out many of the Tutsi, who fled to Uganda. In 1962, Rwanda achieved independence under a Hutu government. The current President, Paul Kagame, fled Rwanda as a child during this war. In 1990, Tutsi rebels, based in Uganda, tried and failed to overthrow the Hutu dominated government. A peace treaty was signed, but conflicted continued to build. In 1994, the Hutu government planned and led a genocide targeting Tusti citizens. No international aid was made available during the conflict. The UN felt unequipped to address the violence and withdrew its peacekeeping forces. The genocide was ended when the Tutsi army, led by current day president Paul Kagame, overthrew the Hutu government. Despite the end of the genocide, periodic massacres were committed and gorilla warfare waged by Hutu forces who hid with refugees fleeing to Zaire (now the Congo). The Congo's leadership had issues with their own Tutsi minority, which contributed to a conflict between the Congo and Rwanda for the next four years. (Some consider this time period to be one war, others refer to it as the Fist and Second Congo wars, due to power and alliance shifts halfway through.) (4, 1, 5, 6)
Map of Rwanda and surrounding region. Credit: BBC (3)
Politics and Gender:
The President, Paul Kagame, has controlled the Rwandan government since his rebel army ended the genocide and seized control of the capital. First as vice president, then as president for 3 terms (so far). His public image has shifted over time, from folk hero and liberator, to dictator. The press has limited freedom and most critical journalists are based overseas. (3)
So many men died during the genocide, the Rwandan government was forced to call upon women to fill the gaps. Now Rwanda’s parliament is half women, an amazing degree of gender inclusivity. Yet traditional gender roles haven’t changed. Unlike other countries that experienced a ‘feminist uprising’ that gradually forced inclusion, Rwanda never had a feminist movement. Women were asked to be patriotic and sacrifice for their country. Women’s political presence is not considered a right, but a privilege, and female parliamentary leaders are still expected to maintain their traditional roles of wife, mother, and caretaker. Young women today, chafe under this contradiction. The older generation who came of age before the massacre are largely unwilling to protest. They want national stability and security. The younger generation of women, were children during, or born after the genocide, are more willing to make tentative, yet bold gestures of independence. Such acts include pursuing higher education in greater numbers, starting businesses, and choosing to work after childbirth. Young men are becoming increasingly used to seeing women in the work place, and seemingly independent in public. The next generation will continue this shift of accepting "the new normal." However, Rwanda doesn't yet have a tradition of feminism, these ideas are just beginning to build. Widespread, but private, gender violence, gender differences in poverty rates, and stiff government control of the media and any criticism made sustainable change a slow process. (2,9)
Rwandan Flag, from Wikimedia Commons
At least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the Rwandan Genocide. Today the average life expectancy is 54 (men) and 57 (women). Agriculture is their strongest economic sector, as tea and coffee are the main exports. A majority of the population is employed in agriculture, or live in a rural environment. (3, 6)
A landlocked nation, with poor transportation infrastructure to neighboring countries, Rwanda hopes to attract investors and develop local business by setting up economic zones and developing the internet and communication infrastructure in these areas. (8)
Rwandan students, 2015, Randazzo. Photo Credit: UNICEF (7)
Ethnic conflict was extremely disruptive to the national education strategy through the 60’s to the 90’s. However, after the genocide, the government focused on building up human capital, including increasing funding for education. In 2009, the national literacy rate was roughly 75%. Rwanda has roughly equal gender enrollment in primary school. This is promising growth. Completion of primary education fluctuates, but is often around 60%. (5, 7)
Despite 6 years of mandatory, government funded schooling, the average Rwandan will only receive 3 years of education, due to insufficient facilities and other obstacles. Infrastructure challenges are compounded by teachers’ frustration with too few textbooks that are often old, damaged or of poor quality. The teachers are also typically inexperienced, with 3-5 years teaching experience on average. Additionally, many Rwandan teachers report feeling underpaid, and if they pursue additional training or education, it is usually in a field outside of education. (5, 7)
Rwanda’s national education strategy hopes to create the foundation for it to become a center for information and communication technology. For these goals to become a reality, issues of unequal access to learning materials and teacher training and pay must be addressed. (5, 8)
1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2017/06/11/rwandas-children-of-rape-are-coming-of-age-against-the-odds/?utm_term=.82200fda4c0d \
In 1974, the Afrikaans Medium Decree was signed into place by the South African Minister of Bantu Education and Development, MC Botha. This decree mandated that the Afrikaans language be used alongside English as the primary language of instruction in black schools from the last year of primary school until the end of high school. Although it faced resistance from the African Teachers Association, the law still passed.
This assault on the native languages of many South African students did not sit well with very many people. Although the government's reasoning included an increase in efficiency, it did not take into account the values held by its citizens. During this time apartheid was still 17 years away from ending, and the legal segregation of black and white students was very much still a problem in South Africa. Seen as an attack on their culture, language, and race, between 10,000 and 20,000 students formed together to protest these changes during what would later be named the Soweto Uprising. Students from multiple high schools across Soweto joined together in protest, walking among the streets voicing their anger with chants and songs. After a clash between a police dog and the protesters, officers opened fire into the crowd, escalating not only the violence but the protest itself, ultimately leading to 23 deaths that first day. Not wanting the protests to continue any longer, 1,500 heavily armed police officers were deployed in armored vehicles to patrol the streets and forcibly end what had now turned into a riot against the brutality. Although no official death toll was given, estimates range from 176 to 700. The protests in total lasted approximately two weeks.
Every year since June 16th, 1991, the International Day of the African Child works to bring awareness to the students desire for equality and education. Created by the Organization of African Unity, the day honors those who took a stand against an oppressive government. Even though the past is worth remembering, the day does not stop there. It also raises awareness for the continued need for improvement for African students. Governments and organizations across the globe use this day to take part in discussions related to this goal, with a different theme every year. This year, the theme is “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity.” Events around the world aimed to discuss ways in which to promote this goal, leading to funding being given and plans being implemented helping to meet this goal. Every year, roughly 100 events in over 40 countries participate, showing that people across the world are dedicated to creating change. Some recent examples have been campaigns to end child marriage across Africa and freeing young children from armed groups in the Central African Republic. To put it simply, this event works to bring harmony to all Africans, not just children.
 Harrison, David (1987). The White Tribe of Africa
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Swaziland is one of the few modern-day nations ruled by an absolute monarchy. The capital is Mbabane. One of the smallest nations in Africa, it is populated by mostly ethnic Swazis, who speak Swati and English. The average age of their citizens is 21, and a third of their population is under 14. A landlocked country, it’s neighbored by South Africa and Mozambique. Swaziland has a small, fragile economy that is very dependent on South Africa’s economy. 3/4th of the population is employed in subsistence agriculture. While a geographically diverse and beautiful country, Swaziland struggles with health issues. Aids and tuberculosis are major causes of death. 1 in 3 adults have HIV. They have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, at 50 years. They have a critical shortage of doctors and medical infrastructure. They have a growing tourist industry that focuses on their wildlife parks and cultural events. (1,2,3)
Swaziland Flag. Credit: Wikimedia commons
An absolute monarchy is one where the monarchy controls the majority, if not all, of the government. Unlike a constitutional monarchy, an absolute monarchy’s power is not restricted by laws or other governing bodies. However, while the monarch appoints the prime minister, the senate and several seats in the house, there are elections every five years to determine some of the seats in the house of assembly. A former British colony, Swaziland gained independence in 1968. Popular protests in the 90’s gradually pressured the monarchy to introduce reforms, including a constitution in 2005. An economic crisis in 2011 enabled South Africa to pressure its neighbor to introduce additional political reforms, in return for a sizable loan. (1)
Swazi Students at Motshane Primary School, Mbabane. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/ IPS
Despite their other national challenges, Swaziland has a surprisingly high primary school enrollment rate, and strong gender parity. The enrollment and graduation rates of boys and girls is almost the same. Over 90% of children complete primary education. Education receives significant national focus. In 1976, adult literacy was just 55% and by 2015 it had grown to 87%, averaging 12% growth every year.(4,5,6)
Primary education is not mandatory, but it is supposed to be fully funded by the government, including meals, books, uniforms and all school supplies. (5) During the 2011 economic crisis, primary schools suffered from unreliable funding, especially the funding set aside for orphaned and vulnerable children. (7). Primary school includes seven years of schooling, after which children complete a test to determine their eligibility for additional education. (5,6)
Secondary school is not free, and is intended to be academically rigorous, in the hopes of preparing students for college. 80% of children who complete primary school do not continue their education and work to support their families. There are 3 primary reasons: 50% of Swazis live in poverty and can’t afford further education; despite high rates of primary school completion, Swazi children often test below their grade level; and there are very limited “seats” in secondary school. Of the 20% of students who attend secondary school, only 5% go to college or other higher education. (5,6)
Given the national focus education receives, Swaziland’s education statistics will likely continue to improve.
Like the world over, gender roles in East Africa are changing.
Traditionally, women keep house, bear children, grow food, carry water and are considered subservient to their husbands. Husbands are responsible for the material support and protection of their households. Sons typically inherit their fathers' property while daughters are married to a suitor her father approves of. These gender roles are reinforced by poverty, discriminatory social attitudes and violence against women.
This is an old pattern, one found throughout history and still common in many countries. Yet these restrictive gender roles are not sufficient to meet the demands of a modern, global society.
Due to changing economic pressures, and increased access to education, more and more women are starting businesses. They have a stabilizing effect on their local economy by providing employment, selling to residents and buying from local vendors. Women who contribute to or fully provide the family's income have more power at home, and are more likely to assert their political rights.
In Tanzania, family structure depends on the tribe, but is increasingly being affected by western ideas of family. Yet change comes slowly.
A man is always the head of a household in Tanzania. He earns the majority of the money, and makes the final decisions on issues of importance. A woman, on the other hand, earns respect by bearing children. Once a woman has children, she will often no longer be referred to by her first name; instead, she is identified as the mother of her eldest child, or in some instances, her eldest son. For example, our teacher Grace could also be called Mama Chris.
Children spend the majority of their time with their mother and other female relatives. It is not uncommon for older female siblings to help raise the children, in some cases even discontinuing their education to help out. In cases where a man has a daughter from a previous relationship, she is responsible for caring for her father’s new wife's children. In addition, families who can afford more help will often hire a young woman to raise their children. She will live with the family until her service is no longer needed.
Many of these traditions are beginning to diminish as urbanization and westernization become more prevalent. The nuclear family is becoming more common, and women are finding roles outside of the home. For example, our head teacher Grace, like other women in her community identified a need in her community and sought to meet that need. She worked with Felicia to build and lead a non-profit school. East African women are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial, and are beginning to build their own solutions to their problems, whether that means providing a community service or starting a business.
Happy Africa Day!
May 25th celebrates the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. This intergovernmental group aimed to establish peace and better the lives of Africans. In 2002, this organization was replaced with the African Union, and includes all African nations. This shift was partly due to a need to focus on economic, rather than political challenges. Defeating colonialism is no longer a unifying factor, and now many African nations are struggling with how to best approach inter-continental trade, appropriate tariffs, and free travel across borders. The African Union aims to address these and other challenges to create a unified, peaceful and prosperous Africa.
Africa Day often has a theme: last year it was unity, this year it’s youth. Or more specifically “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth.” Many African Nations, (And Tanzania is a good example of this) have very young populations, with a large percentage under 30. These young people have the potential to be a huge economic force, if provided good nutrition, healthcare, education, and economic opportunities.
Africa Day celebrations vary widely. Some African nations have declared it a public holiday, however it is celebrated across the continent with concerts, parades, and parties. Members of the African diaspora celebrate too. Celebrants often wear traditional dress, and prepare dishes from their nation of origin.
Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.
Phone: (608) 886-9160
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