International Women's Day - Focus on Maasai Women in Tanzania

Thursday, March 8 is International Women's Day and FoTZC would like to congratulate women all over the world for continuing to make great strides forward.  And congratulations to you, our donors, for supporting COCOBA, the economic development program that provides women with the skills and confidence to start and run their own businesses. 
You have invested in women who have received little prior education, who now see themselves as entrepreneurs and valuable members of their communities. This is powerful, as these women have had few opportunities for employment and have not seen themselves as having much impact in a patriarchal society.  Many of these COCOBA women now speak up and participate in decision-making,  especially on issues related to basic social needs.

The program is based on the principles of COmmunity COnservation BAnking, a microfinance method centered on conservation-minded businesses. The profits the women make are reinvested in the program and are used as loans for other women. These lending groups also have community health care funds and social funds to take care of those in extreme financial need.

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Because of you:

  • 234 Maasai women now manage their own environmentally-friendly businesses, up from only five before our COCOBA program started two years ago.
  • In the four initial groups started in 2016, the women have increased their group financial pools by more than 400%.
  • The women spend their profits on school fees, school uniforms, textbooks and supplies, food and medical care.
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On International Women’s Day, you can be proud of how you’ve contributed to changing the lives of these women. And as a member of our FoTZC family, please join us in celebrating the successes of these Maasai women and women worldwide.

Click here to support Focus on Tanzanian Communities.

We Did It!

At the beginning of the summer we set out to raise $50,000, a sum that would be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous donor. This money was targeted to help fulfill a promise that FoTZC made to the people of Oloipiri Ward -- five new boreholes, to provide water to 3,000 community members. It is with the utmost gratitude that we thank all of our donors who helped keep this promise to our friends in Oloipiri Ward. Over the course of three months, donations poured in from across the U.S., as well as Tanzania! In total, we raised over $131,000!

District Medical Officer, Dr. Omari Sukari, discusses the need for clean water in rural Tanzania.

Your dollars are already hard at work! We recently piped water from the Sukenya Medical Dispensary to Sukenya Primary School, and we're in the process of drilling two additional boreholes in Sukenya, and a third in Mondorosi.

On behalf of our friends in Oloipiri Ward, asante sana for your part in providing these boreholes for much needed water.

Our Boots on the Ground

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Have you ever wondered how Focus on Tanzanian Communities monitors and supports all of the projects and contractors that we work with in Tanzania? Well, let us introduce you to our boots on the ground, Elizabeth Mwakajila. 

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Elizabeth joined the FoTZC in 2016 and serves as the organization's eyes and ears in Tanzania. Fluent in both English and Swahili, Elizabeth is as a conduit between the FoTZC board of directors and local contractors, village elders, and elected officials. As Projects Administrator, Elizabeth ensures that construction projects and programs stay on track, and through monitoring and evaluations, that our donors' dollars are spent responsibly. 

Born in Iringa, Tanzania, and educated at Mzumbe University, Elizabeth is a lifelong resident of the country. She has a background in marketing, community development, with a focus on supporting women's entrepreneurship, and is very interested in economic development and training for her fellow Tanzanians. Given our work in these areas, she couldn't be a better fit for the position. Elizabeth brings a unique perspective to our work and we are incredibly lucky to have her on our team. 

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The Ripple Effect of Clean Water

Reposted with thanks to Thomson Safaris

Maasai women collect water at FoTZC funded borehole

Maasai women collect water at FoTZC funded borehole

Twenty years. There’s a weight to that number that’s hard to ignore.

It feels like just yesterday that Judi Wineland and a group of Thomson Safaris travelers came together to see how they could give back to Tanzania. But the group that became Thomson’s sister philanthropy arm, Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC), has now been around for fully two decades.

Judi Wineland in Tanzania circa 1980

Judi Wineland in Tanzania circa 1980

In honor of that anniversary, FoTZC wants to refocus on fundamentals. And whether you’re talking about health outcomes, education, or women’s empowerment, there’s nothing more fundamental than clean water.

In remote northern areas of Tanzania, the only water source might be miles away, and ridden with dangerous diseases like cholera or dysentery.

Waterborne disease is so common in the region, in fact, that the Sukenya Medical Dispensary (completed by FoTZC in 2015), reports that 4/10 of the most common illnesses they see result directly from tainted water: diarrhea, dysentery, eye infections, and typhoid fever.

Even without the obvious dangers of disease, the trek for water itself is fraught. Women and children often walk up to eight hours round-trip for water, meaning they’re unable to pursue an education or participate in the workforce. And the trip is often undertaken alone, through sparsely inhabited regions. Sexual assault is an ever-present threat.

To FoTZC, the need for better access to clean water was clearly the core issue.
…actually, make that the “bore” issue.

Over the next three years, FoTZC has committed to drilling five new boreholes, which will serve over 3,000 individuals.

A completed borehole near Sukenya Primary School is a perfect case study. Since clean water has been made available, absenteeism at the school—most often due to illness or students being forced to trek long distances for water—has plummeted by almost two-thirds.

The benefits are expected to spread to the entire community. Freed from the need to travel long distances for water, women can focus on creating and maintaining their own small businesses with the aid of FoTZC’s COCOBA (Community Conservation Banking) microfinance program.

And future projects will benefit, too. Currently, construction workers haul water hundreds of miles through rugged terrain. When water is available on site, however, this huge expense is eliminated, meaning every donated dollar goes further towards the kind of education, healthcare, and community empowerment projects FoTZC has been undertaking for 20 years.

What better way to celebrate the two-decade milestone than by ensuring that communities can rely on one of the most fundamental resources around, one that has the possibility of rippling down into more and more positive outcomes: clean, safe, accessible water.

Thanks to a generous matching campaign, every dollar donated to FoTZC, up to $50,000, will be fully matched through September 30, 2017.

Double your impact by giving today!