We are excited and grateful to announce that 4 extremely talented Connecticut College students have joined the Sasamani team for our virtual internship program this summer: Welcome Taeva Cohen, Jordyn Turin, Meera Narayanan-Pandit and Tihut Getabicha!
We would have loved for them to travel to Tanzania to meet our team, the students, the tailors and the Women Leading Change cohorts, and for them to experience life and culture in Bagamoyo. We hope to connect in-person in the future, and in the interim, are thrilled to welcome the interns on board in this capacity.
We have designed the Virtual Internship experience to be as interactive and intercultural as possible, including virtual interviews with Sasamani students, women of the Women Leading Change cohorts, experts in the NGO sector, as well as other organizations active in Tanzania and East Africa. The interns will also work closely with our Sasamani staff, including Tialda (Sasamani's Executive Director), Gladness (Education Director), and Elias (Managing Director). We look forward to their input and contributions to Sasamani!
Introducing Taeva, Jordyn, Meera, and Tihut:
With schools shut down, our 75 sponsored students are staying home with their families, many of whom are similarly losing essential income. In turn, parents and caregivers are limited in their capacity to put food on the table and to maintain good health.
Tialda, Denise, Gladness, and Elias have been working tirelessly to rapidly institute COVID-19 relief projects for our families. Our staff in the U.S. has been working with Gladness and Elias to identify the most urgent needs in Bagamoyo, and in turn, the team has developed strategies to meet those needs effectively and efficiently. We are currently mobilizing to implement four new initiatives to best support our Sasamani community:
Frolich-Rienstra has more than twelve years of experience in strategic brand consulting, marketing and project management globally, including in Africa and the Middle East. She has worked with a variety of organizations, from large multinationals to start-ups, in both the public and private sectors. Frolich-Rienstra brings a broad experience of growing brands in developing and developed countries. As an active member of Amnesty International for over twenty years, Frlich-Rienstra has been involved and responsible for several fundraising campaigns. Most recently, she worked as a consultant for the Women’s Opportunities Resource Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“We are so thrilled to have Tialda join Team Sasamani," said Erica Mohr, Board Vice Chair. "Her wealth of expertise in marketing, cultural savvy, and leadership presence will help us better communicate our purpose and impact so that we may ultimately serve more women and girls. At our heart, Sasamani is about breaking the cycle of poverty. The Board is confident that Tialda will effectively collaborate with our talented Tanzania and US teams to do just that."
Frlich-Rienstra received a BSc in International Business and Management from the NHL Stenden University (Netherlands) and a MA in Marketing Communication from Middlesex University Dubai (United Arab Emirates). She is a Dutch national who has worked and lived in Dubai from 2011 to 2018 and currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) since November 2018.
About The Sasamani Foundation
The Sasamani Foundation builds education and employment programs to stop the cycle of poverty in East African communities. All Sasamani Foundation activities have a focus on building capacity and addressing attitudes toward women's equality, so that women and girls have better choices and outcomes for their future. The Sasamani Foundation achieves its mission through four key initiatives:
The majority of our programs are implemented in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. To read more about The Sasamani Foundation, our impact, and learn how you can contribute to the foundation’s mission, click here.
On January 27th, 2020, the Matimbwa Secondary School second master presented Sasamani with an appreciation certificate for supporting students in the year 2019.
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!