WTWT NEWSLETTER July 2017
Dear Loyal Supporters
I had a lovely visit to Tanzania this June, timed around Mbario and Isaak’s wedding. Mbario is Ponja’s youngest sister and we have known her since she was a girl, back in 2006, when we first started working with Ponja.
Mbario is the first girl in the family to complete secondary education and is now training to be a doctor. She has been invaluable as a volunteer in the village health centres in her holidays promoting family planning.
Isaak completed secondary education and a forestry course at Wildlife College and is now working in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. He volunteers in the community on health and employment initiatives, supported by Karen and Ben from America, who I was able to meet on this visit. We are now collaborating with some of our community support projects.
Isaak and Mbario met when they were at school. I felt privileged to be invited to their wedding and it was a joy to see them together.
The children at Irmelili preschool are doing well and able to attend regularly since we have been funding a maize porridge meal for them each day. We found on our last visit that the children were often too hungry to come to school. We are grateful to Whitegates Children’s Trust for meeting the costs of this for 2017 from their Emergency Fund during the drought earlier this year, which badly affected the area.
The new teacher has been glad to receive a salary from us, as the community were not managing to pay her. Huge thanks to one of our donors giving specifically for this purpose when we were low on funds. The government do not currently fund preschools and request the community to do this themselves with any outside support they can get.
We visited the preschool in Loresho that WTWT have funded, which is now complete and just awaiting the furniture ready for the children to start in September. This is the first school serving the two villages of Loresho Juu and Loresho Chini. The children from these villages will now be able to attend school without the danger of long walks, past buffalo, to neighbouring villages. To date very few children from these villages have attended school due to these difficulties.
Community Health Education Programme (CHEP)
This is continuing in small informal gatherings in people’s extended family homesteads (bomas) and run by our female staff, due to the sensitive nature of the current subjects. They are discussing gender equality, girls’ education, child marriage and the effects of Female Genital Cutting (FGC). FGC has been an important tradition amongst Maasai communities for centuries. Together with a complex ceremony, FGC is the rite of passage through which a girl gains adult respect in the community and passes into womanhood and marriageability.
WTWT ran workshops in December 2013 discussing HIV/AIDS and the harmful effects of FGC on girls’ health and childbearing. The sessions were run by Maasai people, from areas where they have stopped FGC. At that time FGC was the norm in the villages where we work.
After the workshops all those attending from our villages, men and women of all age groups, wanted to abandon FGC whilst keeping the rest of the important ceremony to progress to womanhood. They discussed ways of achieving this across the wider community in the light of the cultural importance and sense of identity which comes through this long standing tradition.
They asked for support from WTWT to run a Community Health Education Programme (CHEP) covering these issues within a wider health framework. Our staff in Tanzania did a baseline study to see if there would be community interest for this and what they would like covered. They were very enthusiastic and so a three year curriculum was developed using their responses and our CHEP classes started in October 2015.
Since the start of the programme and working with the doctor and medical staff there have been dramatic health improvements. These have resulted from an increase in uptake of antenatal care, immunisation and family planning services. It has taken until now to reach the subject of FGC.
CHEP has been established long enough for people to trust our staff, who are all from the local community and all trained in teaching about FGC. We admire our team who are prepared to broach the culturally sensitive subjects of FGC and child marriage because they know how harmful these practices are to their girls.
Loans for women
On this visit I attended a VICOBA (Village Community Bank) loan group meeting. The members of the group all put in a weekly contribution which covered the first loans. WTWT then lent enough money to enable all of the women to have a loan.
The group has had training from our staff in Tanzania. I was very impressed the way the group was run. Everyone was quiet apart from the person calling the names. Each woman got up in turn and first paid her weekly contribution and then her loan repayment. The amounts were written in their record books and the book stamped.
Their money was counted and put in the tin box, which is sprayed gold. After all the repayments were made, most of the money was taken out and loaned to women who had not yet had a loan. The money is always put to work.
The women smiled a lot and gave me beautiful necklaces which they had made. I was very moved. Their business successes are enabling them to have enough for their families to eat and their children to go to school. They are also finding that they are receiving greater respect from their husbands and reduced violence. I asked each what their business was. The first and second were maize, the next rice, then cooking oil, tea, sugar and beads. They are proud of their achievements, which are making a huge difference to their lives and those of their families.
Peesoi, one of our members of staff, with the community bank box
We are hugely grateful for all your financial support and your encouragement of our work. Without you we could not do any of this.
As always, our flights, expenses and administration are paid by ourselves, so all of your donations go directly to the community projects.
With much love and thanks
Rachel and WTWT trustees here in the UK and staff in Tanzania:
Rachel, David and Daniel Blackmore, Michael Hasler, Ruth Cornish, Suchita Raja, Viv Pangalos, Helen Williams, Ponja Tayai, Laangakwa Twati, Embapa Oloishiro, Esupat Oloulu and Peesoi Runguna
If any more of you would like to make a donation or set up a standing order, we would be extremely grateful, as would the people in Ngorongoro.
Our bank account is: ‘Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania’ at Lloyds TSB, account number: 00087400, sort code 30-90-38. Cheques can be made payable to ‘WTWT’ and posted to our address.
Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania (WTWT)
Registered UK charity No: 1125141
Registered office: Old Crown, West End, Weston Turville, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 5TT
Phone: +441296 614751 (land line) or +447792 475094 (mobile)