Jackie is a Community Based Rehabilitation Field Officer. Together with Neema, the clinical officer, they travel from Kamanga Health Centre to the neighbouring villages of Kamanga on their trusted motor bikes. Watch the latest episode of their adventures!
Cedar Tanzania’s volunteer Dylan Parkin has been hard at work these last few months, investigating potential educational and entrepreneurial projects that could be implemented in the village of Kamanga. This May has seen Dylan venture out on his very first pilot entrepreneurial project called “Nguvu ya Binti” (Girl Power)! This has resulted in him putting into use, for the very first time, the Community Centre that Sengerema District Council, with whom we have a Public Private Partnership, kindly donated to Cedar Tanzania to support us in our community projects. In mid May Dylan together with Cedar Tanzania’s field officer Jackie held their first entrepreneurial meetings with seven young women between the ages of 18 -24 years old.
Dylan writes, “The aim of the project is to facilitate the setting up and running of a women-owned social enterprise that manufacture reusable cloth sanitary pads to help girls and women of Nyamatongo handle their periods safely, hygienically and inexpensively. The approach entails to train a group of girls on entrepreneurial skills, menstrual health and hygiene, and sewing classes to equip them with what is needed to be able to produce and sell the pads economically.
The pilot phase started on May 13th and is planned to be reviewed after 10 weeks. It is hoped however that the project will be able to continue until mid-September. The training has been divided into 3 parts: Training on entrepreneurship, sewing classes, education on menstrual hygiene.
The first day of training was light, mostly just introductions. On the second day, we started with the topic of how to find and generate business ideas. Although there are businesses which make and sell reusable cloth pads in Tanzania, we still do not know if this will be a viable business option in Kamanga. Therefore, if we later find that selling sanitary pads is not a viable option, then the girls will return to their knowledge of generating business ideas and find a new idea. We felt it was important to do things this way so the girls could get first-hand experience of doing the research and of taking ownership of the business they are developing.
After the topic of generating business ideas, we started on the topic of analyzing the idea's potential. Upon finishing this, the girls were sent into the village to do "market research." Through this, they have found that the women of Kamanga are indeed interested in reusable cloth sanitary pads.
Now the only research which remains is the cost analysis. We have recently covered the topic of costs and pricing. The girls will soon be going to shops in Mwanza to price the needed materials. This means that within the next week we should know if we will continue with the reusable cloth pads business idea, or if we need to go back to the drawing board and find a new business idea.”
Cedar Tanzania is excited to find out how these amazing young women will fare and we wish them, Dylan and Jackie the best of luck.
Vivian Nordquist gives us an update on the women empowerment project SASA!
“The Awareness Phase, the second of four phases in the SASA! methodology, was implemented from April 2017 until April 2019. After the Awareness phase monitoring and evaluation exercise in July 2018, it was decided to continue with the Awareness Phase until the indicated outcomes for this phase were achieved and enough data was collected to back up the transition into the Support Phase. During the Awareness Phase, Drama Group Members (DGM) were recruited and Terms Of Reference (TORs) stating the role and responsibilities of Community Activists (CAs), Drama Group Members and Field Officers were developed. Moreover, numerous training sessions for activists (refresher training in HIV/AIDS issues) as well as different stakeholders were facilitated. Additionally, several community events were held whereby hundreds of community members were reached. Highlights included a community event in September 2017, one in February 2018 to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism and the participation of DGMs and CAs in the World AIDS Day Fair at Kamanga Health Centre on December 1st 2018.The efforts of the Field Officers to support the Community Activists, monitor facilitations and collect data were intensified and monthly and quarterly data reports are now generated effectively.
Impact on the Community
For the majority of the community we have seen a change in knowledge and attitudes with regards to balance of power and Violence Against Women (VAW). More people break the silence and speak up about these important and pressing issues. This is due to the effort the CAs have been putting into their facilitations by encouraging the community to think critically about their own actions. The CAs are well respected members of the community and are directing victims of violence to the suited support provider. The establishment of a functioning referral system is to date the greatest challenge we face: partly, because the needed support providers are simply non-existent, partly because the local government authorities with which we always aim to cooperate are somewhat unreliable. For some community members it is difficult to grasp that the CAs are not supposed to give advice on how to handle a certain situation but that they are mainly there to consult on where to find support. Some of the community members therefore deem the CAs as ‘useless’. We encourage the CAs to keep doing this, however, as we believe their role is to be a facilitator and to spark critical thinking within the community by asking questions without judging and telling what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.
The community knows the different types of Violence Against Women and the negative consequences that come with it. They can link VAW to HIV/AIDS and understand that VAW is a cause as well as a consequence of HIV.
Women and men in the community agree that VAW is never acceptable and that balanced power between men and women is healthy, safe and beneficial for both. The community agrees that everyone has power and that women are not to be blamed for the violence that is directed towards them. Moreover, it is understood that VAW is an issue affecting the whole community and not merely a private matter.
It is such a great success to see that the community is much more outspoken when it comes to Violence Against Women than it was before the implementation of SASA!. This shows that the community understands the urgent need to act and speak out about the abuse of power which leads to Violence Against Women and girls.
The increase of almost 30% from the baseline to Awareness Assessment for this questions shows that Violence Against Women is increasingly seen as an issue that affects the whole community and is not just a private matter. This decreases the stigma surrounding VAW and reduces the shame women often feel when reporting abuses.
The SASA! project is slowly but surely changing attitudes in Kamanga about how violence against women and girls is an unacceptable act. Join us and help us continue to change lives!
The seasons are changing once again. Switzerland enjoyed a snow-rich winter that will hopefully help to refill our lakes after the last year’s dry and hot summer. The bare mountain cliff snow show wet patches of melting snow making its way down their long, rocky faces to the villages. You could almost imagine that the majestic formations are crying goodbye to the winter. While we pass into spring, nature is once again exploding, showing its full power of creation. Even though pollen is not my best friend, this time of year always reassures me that nature will regenerate itself. This shouldn’t be a comfortable excuse to carry on doing as we are, however – no, we must learn to do things even better, and to show more care and respect for our home and our future – but it’s reassuring to see this natural, green explosion, year after year.
The Friends of the Cedar Foundation Tanzania have asked me to support the preparations and fundraising for the Annual Gala in Zug. I have therefore become not only a story writer, but also a story teller. Whenever I meet family, friends or business colleagues, I tell them stories about what I have experienced in Kamanga, how Peruzi’s light shines, how Emanuel is walking into his own future and about the many people who dedicate their time to help others find a better tomorrow.
Who cares, wins
It’s still dark as the on-the-ground Cedar Foundation Tanzania team picks us up from our hotel in Mwanza. It’s been a short night after flying in from Switzerland, but we have been told that it’s worth catching the first ferry from Mwanza to Kamanga. While driving through the empty streets, I try to study the area to get a first impression of where we are. Now and then we pass someone on foot or a motorbike, loaded to the brim with goods or water. Life starts early in the morning in Tanzania. Moments later, I’m whisked into the organised chaos of the port. It’s fascinating, and at the same time epic, and I cannot imagine how anything works at all here. Large buses, puffing black smoke, push their way onto the old ferry. Women with small children tied to their backs, men with ready-to-sell food supplies and we five Swissies wriggle our way through the little space left on the boat for those on foot. The sun slowly rises as the ferry manoeuvres out of the harbour.
We visitors from Switzerland are not alone on the ferry - the Cedar Tanzania team is with us. Together with the Cedar team, we are the only Caucasians on the boat, and you can spot from far who has done this before. Standing there open-mouthed, clinging onto my cotton bag and camera, I’m fascinated, and at the same time worried that the ferry could sink. The chaos that could break out between the black-smoke-puffing buses is unimaginable. It truly is a different world. Feeling a little lost and overwhelmed, I find it best to stick to the group and do whatever they do.
Vivian, Claire, Adam and Dylan from the Cedar team are sitting on the back of Mark’s pickup. It seems like a good spot, a little higher up, with some space of my own. We sit together there in the morning and evening, peeling oranges and talking about life, how the team is experiencing Tanzania, their work and what really matters. While sticky orange juice runs down my arm, I can metaphorically see their adventure in front of me and, for a short while, be part of the journey. They are totally dedicated to their work and the journey they are on. They are full of life, and what they are doing is inspirational. I cannot help but wish that I could one day do the same. I look forward to repeating the ferry procedure with them the next day, and to hear more of their tales.
Arriving at the Kamanga Health Centre, we are given a tour of this tranquil place. They have made a great job of building the medical centre. After passing the gates, you enter a true oasis of peace and care. In a country that is not necessarily familiar with western medicine – in many areas, they work with traditional medicine, and we have to be aware that our way of living isn’t necessarily theirs – this is definitely a good basis on which to build trust. During the tour, we do see that there is definitely more we can do. In my last story about Emanuel’s walk, I talked about Lake Victoria and how the lake’s water is poisoning its surroundings. The Cedar Health Centre is on the lake, and depends on its water. Although water-purifying systems are doing their job, more is needed, and projects to filter the water in ponds are in progress. What amazes me is that the fish of Lake Victoria are moving with the water. The natural cleaning system seems to be a good spot for the fish, and this could maybe become an attractive side-line for the centre one day. Another problem we are made aware of is power. The hospital regularly experiences power-outages. Emergency generators can fill the gap, but this solution isn’t compatible with the aims of low costs and sustainability. Ideally, the centre should be powered by solar energy. I think this is a great project idea, and I truly hope it can be started sooner rather than later.
At the Health Centre, we get to know Sian and Colinda. They are very talented doctors from the UK and the Netherlands, and I don’t know what the centre would do without them. Our group is allowed to join their training session for local medical staff. I have never done anything like this before, and try my best to keep up with the medical terminology. I actually catch myself wishing I could stick around a little longer and support them in their everyday tasks. It’s really fun to learn and be part of the group. They do an amazing job with their teaching, making Cedar’s efforts more lasting, with a sustainable outlook. Day by day, the local medical staff can take over more and more of the centre’s tasks.
What impresses me most is how devoted and happy the Cedar team is. It’s such a great atmosphere and they all give the impression that they have found profound happiness in what they do. I’ve heard the term “who cares, wins” in a financial business context, but I feel this is also true in the case of the Cedar Tanzania team. If you ever get the chance to visit them, I can only motivate you to do so! My big thank-you goes out to the Cedar Tanzania team. Thank you so much for having me, for showing me your world, for inspiring me. You all do a great job! My third story is about you, because you are on my mind, and you did change my view for the better.
As much as I admire the passion, fearlessness and work of the volunteers on the ground, those back home also help immensely and show passion for good work. I can remember a speech by his holiness the Dalai Lama. He was talking about volunteering to help others. A guest told the Dalai Lama how it makes him feel bad to not be on the ground, helping those in need. He wanted to know if the Dalai Lama would suggest that he should give everything up and travel to a country in need of support. I feel this is a question that bothers many of us. The Dalai Lama reassured his guest by telling him that it would never work out if we were all to give up what we are doing and head out as volunteers. Two kinds of people are necessary in order to keep a healthy system running: those who provide the support on the ground and those who stay home and keep our world working. What is important is that we all do our best, be thoughtful and care, because, ‘who cares, wins’!
Katherine Anne Lee is a published author with her first novel "From dust to dust and a lifetime in between" receiving much public acclaim.