Teen Pregnancy in Tanzania

Education Programs Director Yoeza Mbonea Mnzava has been involved in working on a solution to the on-going and critical issue of “early childhood pregnancy” in the Same District. Out of the five districts in the Kilimanjaro Region, Same (where Empower Tanzania is based) ranks first in childhood pregnancies for girls in primary and secondary schools based on data collected in 2017. Currently, government officials and local partners (like Empower Tanzania) are working together to seek solutions. One solution is to provide education to both parents and students.

Same District (pronounce sah-may) is highlighted in red. The Empower Tanzania office is based in Same and it is where we conduct most of our programming.

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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

Health Programs Update: Tackling a Taboo

Empower Tanzania works to build safe environments for young women to flourish. This includes allowing them the access to resources they need to be successful. Due to a generous donation from the Des Moines-based group named Half the Sky, we have been able to expand our programs in meaningful, exciting, and synergetic ways!


In Tanzania, it is taboo to discuss menstruation, urinary tract health, and menstrual hygiene. When a girl begins puberty, she often don’t understand what is happening to her body and is unsure of how to handle it properly. Disposable menstrual pads are expensive and, because of the expense, household rags are commonly used instead. These rags are ineffective and often lead to leakage and embarrassment. Frequent school absences and high dropout rates among girls often follow. In hopes of remedying this problem, Empower Tanzania has partnered with Days for Girls, an organization working in 100 countries that provides training on the production of reusable menstrual pads. This is an effective and inexpensive alternative to the more commonly used rags, leaves, moss, or disposable pads. Continue reading

Improving Women’s Health Project

Malaria, infectious and parasitic diarrhea, malnutrition and other preventable illnesses kill many Tanzanians, especially children.  Tanzanian women are in a position to greatly impact the health of themselves and their families because of their central roles in cooking, child rearing, cleaning and farming. Studies show that educating women on public health topics is an efficient way to improve the overall health of a community. 

Change the mother, and you change the whole community.

This concept is what inspired Dr. Jeff Carithers and ETI President Phil Latessa to design the Improving Women’s Health Program that launched in November, 2012.  

Volunteers in the IWHP project watch a demo of the videos that will be used in training to give their feedback as we develop the project.

This public health program uses 26 community educators throughout the Same District and short videos on a variety of subjects to teach women about safe water, hand washing, malaria prevention, nutrition and a variety of other topics.  (Two volunteers in the picture above are watching one of the videos.)  Health statistics for the 250,000 residents of the district will be monitored over time to evaluate the impact of the program.

The impact of this program will be multiplied many times when we are able to reach mothers and daughters.

Nanny Project Stories: Mackline

18-year old Mackline Mcharo, and her mother

In 2010, eighteen year old Mackline Mcharo of Hedaru finished secondary school.  Like most girls in Tanzania, she could not continue her education, so she began to wonder what would happen to her.  How does a girl without a trade or a college education support herself in a rural village in Tanzania?  Typically, she gets married, and begins the cycle of farming and raising children and barely surviving that will consume the rest of her life as a subsistence farmer.  She knows her odds of contracting HIV from her husband will be high, and she knows that her future is set in stone.  That’s what it is to be a young girl in rural Tanzania.

The story, however, was destined to be different.  Mackline’s mother had been chosen to receive two pregnant goats through ETI’s new Nanny Project, and she did something any mother would understand.  She gave her youngest daughter the Goat Milk t-shirt she had been given, symbolically giving her daughter her place in the program, and in reality, giving her a future.

In January of 2011, Mackline and 14 other farmers from Hedaru (most old enough to be her parents) went to Arusha and attended two weeks of training at Tengeru Agriculture College.  Their training covered animal husbandry, and extensive education in the care and breeding of high quality dairy goats.  They also learned about a process called “Integrated Farming”, which is a kind of ecologically intelligent farming, emphasizing wise use of resources and water, and maximum food production on minimal land.

The Nanny Project farmers, home from training and excited!

For this group of farmers, it was a life-changing experience, and opened their eyes to the benefits of modern farming practices, and good stewardship of their land and resources in a way that they had never seen before.  To say they were excited when they got home would be an understatement!  Iowa project manager, Sheri Krumm of ETI’s board of directors visited in April, to find an amazing amount of hope and excitement brewing!

Since that time, Mackline has received her two pregnant goats, has had 3 kids, one of which died, and is happily looking forward to watching her budding little her grow and blossom over the next few years.

What is her dream?

Mackline wants to use the money she makes from her farming to go back to school and get more education, and she wants to use her experience to help other young girls in the village to find choices of their own.  She may be young, but she is strong, independent, and on a mission to do something with her life!