Dear Friends (A Letter from Tanzania)

Dear Friends,

Today I have decided to share with you some few stories and experiences about our beloved students in the Same Learning Center (SLC).

We have been working with our students for about two months. I have learned a lot from them. The fact is that these children are from very vulnerable families and have a long history for their short lifetime. I have used a lot of my time to get to know them individually and try to understand the details of their life. Continue reading

Meet Four of the Most Empowered Women in Tanzania

If you’ve followed Empower Tanzania for long, you know that we provide  tremendous opportunities to advance the rights of women across the globe. Why? Because we believe it’s important to empower women and to lift one another up. Projects that benefit women are crucial and we’re grateful to our staff, program managers, and donors who are exceedingly generous with their time and resources. We’ve spent nearly a decade educating and empowering women across the Same District of rural Tanzania. Allow us to introduce you to four of the most empowered!


Nietiwe is a successful farmer in our Integrated Farming Program. Her training, skills, and hard work pays for her four children’s school fees, healthy food for her family, and even a motorcycle to use to gather fresh grass for her livestock!

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It’s official! The Msindo Children’s Club is open!

We are thrilled to report the launch of our second Most Vulnerable Children’s Club, which opened in Msindo last week. This kids’ club will provide supplemental education, two nutritious meals, and support for 50 children identified by their community as in great need of assistance. The program also provides the children with their uniforms for primary school, enabling them to attend classes during the week. We’ve seen tremendous success at our original kids’ club in Mramba and are overjoyed to open a second location!


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A different twist on skin tone

There are numerous superstitions in East Africa about albinism, a genetic deficiency of pigment of the skin, hair and eyes.   Many East Africans believe people with albinism lack souls, are possessed by the devil or have mental retardation.  There are also beliefs that their body parts have magical properties and can make one rich, treat disease or prevent HIV/AIDS.  This leads to murder and dismemberment of people with albinism and mystical usage or sale of their body parts by witch doctors or other sorcerers.

children with Albinism must protect themselves from the sun

children with albinism must protect themselves from the sun

This cultural belief system is particularly prominent in Tanzania where over 70 people have been murdered in the past 14 years because of their skin color.  This is aggravated by the fact that, for unknown reasons, the incidence of albinism in East Africa is more that 12 times that of the rest of the world.

Fatima Ali is a 22 year-old woman with albinism who loves to wear red scarves over her white hair.  Her skin is already severely sun damaged at her young age because of the lack of protective pigment from the African sun.

Her village is small enough that everyone knows her and, even though she is often discriminated against, she generally feels safe.  When she was a student, however, she was at a public boarding school in a larger town and feared she would be attacked and chopped up at night in her dormitory as others have been.

albino2Empower Tanzania’s Improving Women’s Health Program provides public health education presentations to over 12,000 people per month to the 269,000 people of Same District in Tanzania.  Albinism has been the topic for the month of February and the 33 community health educators in this program are teaching the truths of albinism to counter the commonly held myths and superstitions about the condition.  They are also identifying people like Fatima so they can be educated about sun protection measures and reduce the high risk of skin cancer.

Be a part of this cultural change and support the Improving Women’s Health Program and other programs operated by Empower Tanzania.


Most Vulnerable Children’s Club

Education…a right, or a privilege?  For the most vulnerable children of Tanzania, it is merely a dream.  These children come from the poorest families, sometimes with dying parents, sometimes with no parents.


They cannot afford even the uniforms required to attend school, and are often malnourished, and failing to learn the social and practical skills needed to survive in the their own culture, because HIV has taken away all the adults responsible to teach them.

The ETI Most Vulnerable Children’s Club in Mramba, initially sponsored but a grant from Rotary International and supported by St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines has found a simple, but highly effective answer!

The MVC Club uses the local school building, trained a few teachers who volunteer their time, and provides Saturday School for 50 children, chosen as most vulnerable by the village leaders.

These children learn life skills, such as nutrition and sanitation and how to plant and grow a vegetable garden (yes, they get to keep their vegetables!) and they are fed two meals.  They are given uniforms, which has allowed them to go to school during the week, and by pulling them out of the community and spending special time with them, leaders find situations like Mack, an 11 year old girl who has lost both parents and is raising her younger brothers and sisters alone, and can find ways to address these issues as a community and help.


Kid’s Club for Orphans

Empower Tanzania is partnered with the Des Moines Rotary Club  to provide an educational program for vulnerable children in the villlage of Mramba, Tanzania.  The $3,000 budget established a weekly program of education in life skills for 50 children in the village, and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines provides continuing funding to maintain the program.

The project includes:

  • Training for three people in the village in child develpment skills
  • Saturday morning programs in life skills for 50 vulnerable children
  • Games and educational programs on hygiene, care of animals and nutrition
  • Breakfast and lunch are served


This seems like such a simple agenda, and yet, the recent visit to Tanzania by ETI Board Members, including Project Chair Carol Fisher showed that the impact is ANYTHING but simple.  In fact, the word “amazing” comes to mind!


In one short year, this pilot program has taken 50 children who were hungry, struggling to survive, not going to school, and in most cases dealing with the death or eminent death of one or both parents from HIV/AIDS….to a place of HOPE!

Children in Mramba's Kids' Club, Tanzania

The children have uniforms, allowing them to go to school.  They are gardening, eating the “fruits of their labor”, so to speak, in their own homes and at school.  They are getting support in learning those life skills that mean survival in this harsh environment, and best of all, they are outgrowing their clothes!  We can’t think of a better measure of success than that!

A big thanks goes out to the Rotary Club of Des Moines for the initial investment, the people of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines for their willingness to open their hearts AND pocketbooks to sponsor the children and purchase school uniforms, the Pare Diocese of the Evengelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania for their ongoing support of the program, and of course, the teachers and people of Mramba who are doing to “heavy lifting” every week to raise up these children.  None of this is possible unless a lot of people get together and decide to make it possible.

Children at Kids' Club in Mramba

The vision of this project is to begin sponsoring some of these vulnerable children in their formal education, and increase the size of the program to include five more locations in 2012.  If you belong to an organization that might want to sponsor a new Kid’s Club in 2012, contact project manager Carol Fisher at

Your financial support will help!  Please give generously!

Education for AIDS Orphans

Education provides a brighter future!  No one knows this better than the millions of HIV/AIDS orphans in Tanzania.  When parents die of HIV/AIDS, the children’s futures are bleak.  Education allows them to rise above their circumstances and gives them hope, which inspired the Mwanga Lutheran Parish, and Peace Lutheran Church in Pella, Iowa, to begin an Orphan Education Project in 2002.

It began by providing uniforms and shoes to primary school students, and tuition to secondary and trade school students. They have helped an average of about 350 primary school students each year. The number of secondary and trade school students has increased from around 45 in 2002 to over 150 in 2008, which has prompted them to seek a partnership with Empower Tanzania to make this very successful program more sustainable.






The Orphan Education Project serves orphans in the Mwanga District of Tanzania.

– Uniforms and shoes are provided for area students in the program, as well as tuition.

– Local Tanzanian volunteers seek out orphans who are not enrolled in school to make sure they are aware of the program.

– The planning for the programs is carried out jointly between Mwanga Parish and Peace Lutheran Church.

-Mwanga Parish provides a detailed account to Peace Lutheran Church of what students have been helped and how much was spent for. No money is given directly to the students or their families, but is paid directly to the schools.

As the HIV/AIDs problem continues in Tanzania, more and more children need help with education.  Your support can help to keep this very successful program in place, taking these children all the way to trade school and college, and making them a viable part of the future development of Tanzania in the 21st century.

Kids’ Club: Mack’s Story

This is Mack (pronounced mock), and this is her story. 

She is 12 years old and lives in the village of Mramba, Tanzania. She comes from a very poor family and was selected as a “vulnerable child” by a village committee because her father is dead and her mother is ill. Mack wants to go to school but there is no money for that.

Mack is one of 50 vulnerable children selected for the Kids’ Club in Mramba. In this project developed by ETI with funding from the Des Moines Rotary Club, children from ages 7 to 12 meet every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a program of life skills training, projects and games. They are taught by three women from the village who attended a nearby college for a four-week program in child development. The kids eat breakfast and lunch at the school, which hosts the program.

For many of the kids, these are the only meals they will get that day.

The kids have two projects underway. The first is a large vegetable garden, and the second is an irrigation ditch to water the plants. Each week, they tend the garden by weeding and watering under the supervision of their teachers and volunteers from the village. At harvest time, they will divide the produce among their families.

They also practice singing, and Mack leads them in the traditional African call and response songs. She is a very bright girl and a natural leader.

After the initial Rotary funding of $2500 is spent, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa will continue to support the program.  In addition, the members of the congregation agreed to pay the costs for all 50 kids to attend school.  So, now Mach will be a student and will develop her natural gifts.

News of the Kid’s Club in Mramba spread quickly throughout the region and many villages want to begin a Club. ETI is collecting funds to establish more Kid’s Clubs. Please connect to the donations page of our website if you wish to make a contribution.

This is one example of where a small amount of money will make a big difference in the lives of these kids. Someday, Mack may be Prime Minister.  Anything is possible!