We have been working in Tanzania since 2001 to promote education, mentor girls, develop leaders, and transform communities.
We know that educated girls have better lives and seek positive changes in society, yet only 39% of girls in Tanzania go to secondary school, and only 3% go on to tertiary education.
In partnership with GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative), AfricAid works to address the issue of poor educational outcomes for adolescent girls at two key stages of their development. We work with younger girls to help them stay in school and complete lower secondary school, and take the next step on their personal journey. We work with older adolescent girls who have already gone part of the way to succeeding in their educational endeavors. With this cohort, our focus is on building leadership skills, as well as personal qualities like confidence and resilience, and supporting them to succeed well beyond secondary school.
Through extensive research on best practices and successful models throughout East Africa, the AfricAid team developed a leadership and life skills training curriculum – the Kisa Curriculum – and identified a number of essential programs and activities. The Kisa Project is implemented by our sister organization, GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative), a Tanzanian NGO.
Over the years we’ve honed the Kisa Curriculum, built an exceptional mentoring program, and seen Kisa Scholars thrive far beyond secondary school. 97% of Kisa Scholars have gone on to further study, including university; several have been accepted into leadership training programs overseas. During this time the Kisa Project has expanded to over 25 secondary schools in Arusha and Kilimanjaro Regions in Tanzania and impacted thousands of young women.
Due to the remarkable success of the Kisa Project, in 2016 AfricAid conducted a participatory needs assessment in the Kilimanjaro Region to determine the key barriers preventing girls from completing secondary school. After the participatory needs assessment, AfricAid customized a new program to address key obstacles faced by adolescent girls, including gender discrimination, early marriage, poverty, and lack of self-confidence. The program is called Binti Shupavu, which means Courageous Daughters in Swahili.
In January 2017, we launched the pilot for Binti Shupavu in 9 Partner Schools, recruiting 810 girls to join. As of 2020, Binti Shupavu is active in 22 partner schools, with more than 4,500 Scholars currently enrolled.
Binti Shupavu is also implemented by our sister organization, GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative), a Tanzanian nonprofit.
In 2001, 16 year old Ashley Shuyler founded AfricAid, following a life-changing trip to Tanzania five years earlier. During that trip, she met many children her age who did not have the opportunity to go to school. She learned that girls, in particular, face significant challenges in trying to obtain an education. Realizing that this leads to a cycle of poverty – and recognizing just how powerful girls’ education can be in changing the futures of individuals and communities – she established AfricAid to help transform the landscape of opportunity for young women in Tanzania.
In its early years, AfricAid focused on providing scholarships and direct support to Tanzanian schools. In 2010, AfricAid adopted a more strategic approach to girls’ education to more holistically address the structural barriers facing even the most academically accomplished young women. Our new approach reflected the belief that young women, in particular those who have achieved entrance to upper secondary school, have incredible potential to become future leaders and catalysts for change in their communities. These young women, however, need additional skills, knowledge and confidence to reach their potential. It was from this knowledge that AfricAid’s flagship program, the Kisa Project, was born.
AfricAid, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado. In 2010, AfricAid Tanzania (TZ) was founded with the launch of the Kisa Project. In 2020, AfricAid Tanzania became GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative), a registered Tanzanian nonprofit. The two organizations work in tandem: AfricAid, Inc. and the US Board have a strong focus on fundraising and on sharing collective learnings to advance mentorship opportunities for girls; and GLAMI and the GLAMI Board focuses on program design, operation, implementation and measurement.
OTHER PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS
Losinoni Primary School
Losinoni is a rural Maasai village that AfricAid has partnered with since 2004. Over time, AfricAid has provided funding for the construction of several classrooms and a much-needed school latrine facility. Most recently, AfricAid helped fund the installation of a solar power project, giving students and teachers electricity at the school for the very first time.
AfricAid also funds and oversees the innovative lunch program at the school. Many of Losinoni’s 557 students walk several miles to and from school each day, while subsisting on only one meal of “ugali,” or corn porridge, in the evening. As a result, it can be difficult for the students to focus on their studies, and many decide to skip school. Since the introduction of the school lunch program at Losinoni, school attendance has increased dramatically, student concentration levels have increased, and there is more active classroom participation. In 2004, when AfricAid commenced working with Losinoni, only 23% of Losinoni students passed the final primary exam; in 2014 this number was 87%.
Achieve in Africa
In 2017, Brendan Callahan joined our Board of Directors. Brendan and his wife Alyssa co-founded Achieve in Africa (AIA) in 2009 to support education in Tanzania. Read more about their projects below.
Constructing Olasiti Secondary School
Without a secondary school nearby or any formal bus system, students above grade 7 in the rural village of Olasiti, Tanzania, had to rely on riding in the back of supply trucks en route to neighboring villages to attend school. Students were easily injured on these supply trucks and some female students were subjected to having relations with the drivers in exchange for paying for the rides. As a result, some female students became pregnant and had to drop out of school entirely.
The residents of the village and local government had minimal funds to contribute to build a secondary school. AIA constructed Olasiti Secondary School over several years, and the school now serves over 1,200 students each academic school year.
Renovating Olasiti Primary School
When Achieve in Africa first began working with Olasiti village, two of the classrooms in Olasiti Primary School were crumbling and unusable. AIA helped the school by tearing down the old classrooms and constructing new classrooms in their place. On a trip to Tanzania in 2011, AIA volunteers also helped to improve the school by repairing cracked floors, painting classrooms, and creating barriers around classrooms to route rainwater away from the school.
Other Achieve in Africa projects included providing school supplies and books, coordinating a pen pal program, installing solar panels to equip classrooms with electricity, and constructing a community learning center in the rural village of Ulolela in southern Tanzania.
AfricAid is currently poised for significant strategic growth. Our aim is to increase the recognition and importance of mentorship and development of soft skills in girls’ education and empowerment programs. We are also focused on increasing the body of knowledge and support for girls’ life skills and leadership education.
As we have grown over the last two decades, we have demonstrated that relatively simple, low-cost interventions during secondary school can have a significant impact on girls, creating a positive ripple effect across all of Tanzania. As we continue to support GLAMI in taking Binti Shupavu to scale, we will reach thousands of vulnerable adolescent girls throughout Tanzania. Simultaneously, we plan to continue supporting GLAMI in adding more Partner Schools for the Kisa Project, while expanding the resources provided to the growing number of Kisa Alumnae. Our shared long-term goal is to provide the benefit of robust mentoring programs to as many secondary school girls as we possibly can.