From the Field: A Report from Chief Kiboko

We love sharing reports from our program managers, participants, and stakeholders in Tanzania. What follows is from Chief Kiboko (pictured below), a Maasai chief, longtime partner, and advocate for social good. We have worked closely with Chief Koboko over the years as we have established and implemented the Community-Hospital Alliance Program. Below is an exciting glimpse of his most recent report from the field:

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Cell Phones In Tanzania

IF THEY’RE SO POOR, WHY DO THEY HAVE CELL PHONES?

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with incomes averaging about $2 per day. Poverty is ever present with a population that has electricity in only 10% of homes, with over 40% of children so malnourished that they are stunted physically and mentally, and with only 40% of homes able to access to safe water. Millions of dollars in aid go to Tanzania from governments, non- governmental organizations, and private donations.

Yet when you visit and observe, it seems as though everyone is using a cell phone. Isn’t this an unnecessary luxury in such a poor country? This is a question we get asked a lot. Our response? In a word, no.

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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

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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How do we empower women?

We’re currently in the midst of a Mother’s Day campaign in which we’re working hard to raise $3,000 for our women’s empowerment programming through the sale of some pretty beautiful jewelry made in Tanzania. Because of our generous business sponsor, Onion Grove Mercantile, we’re offering supporters the chance to donate $30, receive a pair of earrings, and be assured that their money will go toward the women of rural Tanzania. Continue reading

Notes from the field…

Note: We often ask our volunteers and supporters who travel to Tanzania and observe the work we do to share a bit about their experience. This reflection comes from Frances Murray Taylor who traveled to Tanzania as part of a small cohort in March of 2017.

I observed the training sessions for the women of the Improving Women’s Health Program. It was uplifting to see the more than 30 women who came, some with young children, to attend the training sessions. As each woman was introduced to the group of us representing Empower Tanzania, she gave us a snapshot version of the progress made in her community. The areas mentioned included family planning, money management, improved health, and enabling programs in the schools. I was told that two years ago, about half of the women were involved in community organizations but today more than three quarters raised their hands when asked how many were ward councilors in their communities. Because of this effort, almost 700,000 people had attended the training sessions they conducted using the information that they had learned. Malaria has dropped, more babies are being vaccinated, and hand washing has become a priority. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes with ETI

Empower Tanzania has long been employing technology to deliver vital health information to those living in rural Tanzania. This month, staff and volunteers are hard at work on five new videos to be released next month in Same District and Kagera Region. The reach of these videos is wide — each will serve 630,000 people by using 141 trained Community Health Educators who will present each video 12 times per month! Here are a few behind-the-scenes highlights of our most recent video shoot:

THE WRITER: ETI Program Director Dr. Jeff Carithers wrote the scripts for five new videos being created in a new partnership with World Vision Tanzania to provide public health education focusing on pregnant women and children under two-years-old in northern Tanzania. Scripts are translated into Swahili and delivered by our actors.

THE VIDEOGRAPHER: Mark Burnham, videographer for Unity Point Health, shot the videos. We are grateful to Unity Point and Iowa Methodist Medical Center for allowing Empower Tanzania to use Mark and his studio for filming!

Mark Burnham films as the actors run through the scene prompted with a script shown on an iPad, which serves as telepromptor.

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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!

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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

YouTube as a Training Tool and Healthcare Equalizer

YouTube may be better known for its host of viral cat videos, but Empower Tanzania uses it for more. In fact, YouTube houses an extensive collection of videos that we use to empower our community health workers in rural Tanzania.

With a team of volunteers and experts, we’ve translated dozens of health videos into Swahili and shared them with the 30 Maasai women providing community health worker services in Tanzania. These women provide public health education and basic healthcare to their fellow villagers in 21 rural Maasai villages and are educated, in part, through videos uploaded to their iPads. The Maasai community health workers have learned a great deal and the videos have been of great value to the Community Hospital Alliance Program (CHAP).

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#TBT (Throwback Thursday) to where it all began…

Ever wonder about the origins of Empower Tanzania? This video is a fantastic reminder of where we began. Produced by ETI volunteer Paul Casella, it captures the work we did with PEPFAR and the model of aid we continue to use. We listen, we listen again, we listen a third time and then we offer to collaborate on a plan that leads to a sustainable solution and local EMPOWERMENT. Watch the video for a sense of our work, as well as a glimpse into the beautiful country of Tanzania!

Paul Casella is a writer, teacher, editor and producer. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Since 1993, Paul has worked with health professionals to improve the clarity and effectiveness of their manuscripts for publication, formal presentations, slides, posters, videos, and other media for scientific purposes. We at Empower Tanzania are so lucky to have him on our team!

Part V: Buy a Band-Aid, Change a Life

This blog post is the final part of a series that takes a closer look at our Community-Hospital Alliance Program (CHAP). In case you missed Part I, Part II, Part III, or Part IV, click on the links to learn about the program’s process and impact. We are currently raising funds for the medical supplies our CHWs and clinics need to operate. Please consider a donation to help sustain this important program.

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