The Employment initiative is one of many programs implemented by the Sasamani Foundation. Since 2013, it was known as Manufacturing Department but later on, it was changed to "Employment Initiative" as it offers employment to women in the society of the small and historic town of Bagamoyo located in the Coast Region of Tanzania.
The Amani Collection features a series of bags that are sold for the price of $40. This amount covers the bag as it is and it includes a uniform price that enables a student in Bagamoyo to benefit from a school uniform who could not otherwise afford it.
HOW WE RECRUITED UNIFORM BENEFICIARIES
The Sasamani Foundation can easily reach the registered students (56) but for the non-registered students, we need to request permission from the government to reach these students who come from vulnerable families and are in need of school uniforms.
We were able to locate these students in 3 secondary schools and 3 primary/grade schools.
65 Primary School Students benefited were from;
1. Pande Primary School
2. Miembesaba Primary School
3. Kidongochekundu Primary School
35 Secondary School Students benefited were from;
1. Kingani Secondary School
2. Kiromo Secondary School
3. Matimbwa Secondary School
Again this year 2019 we also had 100 bags sold therefore we had a second uniform project.
In this round, all the student beneficiaries were from Primary/grade schools.
We divided the uniforms into 4 Schools in Bagamoyo District for 25 students in each school.
Schools reached were;
1. Kerege Primary School
2. Mtambani Primary School
3. Kimele Primary School
4. Kiharaka Primary School
The students were so happy to have new school uniforms as it was not something they expected to receive that particular time.
This project was a success to both students and the tailors as it put smiles on their faces each one in their own ways. With an achievement like this, we see the department going forward to higher levels.
I became Executive Director of the Sasamani Foundation back in February, but it was just last week in early August that I had the privilege to visit our operation in Tanzania and see the work first hand. What an incredible experience it was!
Towards the end of the week, we engaged a photographer to take still shots and videos of members of our employment program. Sasamani employs nine local tailors to make unique bags that are sold overseas, and the entire program is managed by Elias, our Managing Director.
With my time in Tanzania having come to an end a few days ago now, I've had the chance to really reflect and process the experience, and am now able to truly appreciate how rewarding it was.
Going forward, it'll be useful for the team to all be accessing the same live versions of files so everyone can quite literally be on the same page. I created a sponsor and student information database that will be stored on the Team Drive and worked with Gladness and Elias to familiarize them with Google Drive and Google Suite.
In addition to the contributions I made, being with Sasamani did a lot for my understanding of the issues of poverty and economic development. The burning questions that have floated around the back of my mind most of my academic career revolve around how we can empower people to improve their economic situations. But I think that one thing my experience this summer has shown me is that, until now, I had a somewhat myopic view of how this can be achieved. I've learned that it's not as black and white as I once thought it to be. There are a million and one factors that combine to create the issue we know to be global poverty. Working with Gladness on the education initiatives cemented this idea in my mind. Understanding the realities that our sponsored students live every day has been so eye-opening.
I look out through the window to take a quick last glance of the beautiful Dar Es Saleem as the plane takes off from the Julies Nyerere Airport. The past few weeks in Tanzania flew by! I completely can’t fathom the fact that my time in TZ has come to an end. In my previous blog, I shared some of the things I have been working on at Sasamani. I took a look at my previous blog and I realized I haven't shared much about the fun weekends I spent in different parts of Tanzania. Like the beautiful trip Wes and I took to Zanzibar. I loved how kind and welcoming the people in Zanzibar were. Sun-set trips, delicious Tanzanian dishes, Bongo flavor music, beautiful view; Zanzibar had it all. For my last weekend in TZ, we took a 12 hours trip to Ifakara, a rural town in the south-central part of Tanzania, to visit the Udzungwa National Park. I complained for a bit when I realized tourists pay twenty times the price Tanzanian's pay, but I guess that's how the business world of tourism functions. Hiking 3kms to the base of the Udzungwa waterfall was tiresome, to say the least. The park consists of the peculiar waterfall, Sanje waterfall. The waterfall displays the map of Africa showing clear demarcation of boundaries as it appears on a piece of paper. It was mind blowing! The hike was totally worth it. On my last week, I went around to our three partner schools to have a session on Menstrual Hygiene Management. Although I had previous experience with training for Sanitation and Hygiene Management, I worked with Gladness to frame the session for the students in Bagamoyo. I prepared handouts, a few materials for demonstration and ice-breaker games because the students were a tad uncomfortable to get straight to the topic. After my first session 63 female students at the Kingani Secondary School, I decided it would be best to have a translator in the room because most students were more comfortable asking questions in Kiswahili. At Kingani, I stayed a bit late because it was my last day at the school. We sat down and talked with the students. They were kind enough to show me around their hostels and study rooms. The situation in public schools in Ethiopia is not that different from the public schools I have been to in Tanzania. We sat in circles and they were asking me about how I ended up studying in the States. We started talking about college applications and ended up talking about life in East Africa. Before I knew it, it was already 7 p.m, so I had to head home. Saying my goodbye to the students was quite emotional. "Madam Tihut, you are my role model," says Ester who is one of our Sasamani students. I held it in when I saw her tears as she hugs me. Once I got to the car to get back home, I just let it all out. As much as I loved our attachment, it made the goodbyes pretty hard for all of us.
I would be in a classroom for three to four hours with a translator taking questions from the students.
Tanzania really did feel like home in ways I didn’t expect, except the fact that I never rode the motorcycle at home. But, it was actually the to-go ride when I went to most of the schools in Bagamoyo. Although I was scared of being at the back of a motorcycle at first, it was one of the highlights of my stay in Bagamoyo.
For my last day in Dar, Dr. Mori took me to the University of Dar Es Salaam for the last time and I met with a couple of international students from Sweden, the States and China. I was curious about applications to study abroad at UDSM, so I went to the Office of Internationalization and Advancement to learn more about the process. Who knows, I might study abroad at UDSM! That actually sounds like a plan, if it's feasible. I have been on the Study Away Committee at Conn College, and I hope I could share a bit about how Study Abroad works at UDSM. Maybe Conn students (including myself) can study abroad at UDSM in our junior year.
This is probably my last blog, but I have a lot more to share about my time in Tanzania. For now, I would like to restate how grateful I am to have been a part of the Sasamani team. I look forward to contributing in all sorts of ways that I could possibly help with the amazing work of the team. It wasn't just working at the office, and filing paper works but I also spent family time with everyone I stayed with. I strongly hope I will visit sometime again. I have learned lessons and experienced the beautiful culture of Tanzania. Thank you for all the good lessons that will stay with me for a lifetime!
The day's events will include a debate, a spelling bee, sports and other games. We will be launching a fundraising campaign for the event this week, so look out on social media for a chance to make a contribution to what will likely be the first chance many of these students have ever had to interact in a setting like this!
High School students enrolled in forms 5 and 6 visited the Sasamani Office to collect their tuition fee pay slips, school books and toiletries in preparation for the start of classes on July 8th.
They offer mentoring and marketing workshops for tailors, which could be of great use for the ten local tailors we have in Sasamani’s employment initiative. I spoke to the SIDO staff manager for the Bagamoyo district, and we are scheduled to meet with the regional manager on Friday at our Sasamani Office in Bagamoyo to discuss corporate partnership between SIDO and Sasamani.
According to Dr. Mori, the program would have to go through the Ministry of Education and the Vocational Educational and Training Authority of Tanzania to be approved as an accredited program. I personally believe the idea is a great prospect for our long term goal to build a Bagamoyo Community Center. However, as of now, instead of launching a Vocational Skill Project we could certainly look into partnering with other local NGO’s working on vocational training and education.
Outside of class, I spend time getting to know the students. I teach them a few unordinary things about Ethiopia like the fact that we have 13 months, not 12. Their facial reactions when they hear this is priceless! Most of them ask me to write their names in Amharic (which is the national language in Ethiopia). In the process of getting to know them, I would like to think I have established a rapport with the students. Next week, I will be interviewing Sasamani students to check-in with them about their academic, financial and health status.
I can't believe my stay in Tanzania will come to an end in just a week. It's shocking! I have had an amazing experience in such a beautiful country. I continue to blame myself for not visiting Tanzania when it's only four hours away from Ethiopia. I'm trying to convince my parents to visit Zanzibar for their next anniversary! Look at me feeling like a blogger already when I have zero experience with blogging! Stay tuned for my next blog.
The Sasamani Foundation welcomes Tihut to Bagamoyo! We are thrilled to have you in Tanzania and working with you this summer.
Tihut teaching an Economic Integration course under the History and Civics department.