Field Update!

We are excited to share some photo updates from the field as we finish two more classrooms! As you will see in the photos below, the workers have added the roofs and will be finishing the floors, plastering the walls, adding the windows, the doors, and painting. We are looking forward to sharing additional updates as they become available. As always, none of this is possible without our supporters and we sincerely appreciate your commitment to education and helping change lives in rural Africa!

30 Days of New Classrooms Campaign Successful!!

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We’re happy to share some great news. Our 30-day campaign raised a total of $28,107 – enough for 2 classrooms and 122 desks (well beyond our initial goal of $18,000)! We are grateful for your support, whether you donated or shared our cause with others so that more knew about our campaign. We could not have done this without you!

In 2014, we’ll continue working with the local Tanzanian government to expand Olasiti Secondary School, which is the first secondary school in the village. We opened the school in 2012, and it has grown each year to accommodate more students. In January, the school will serve over 1,200 students.

We will be posting updates on construction here, and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we post frequently about all the going’s-on with Achieve in Africa. We are looking forward to making an even greater impact in 2014!

Best,
The Achieve in Africa Team

Achieve In Africa Receives $5,000 Grant from Amgen

 

 

 

Each year, the biopharmaceutical company Amgen selects a handful of its most selfless and dedicated employees to receive their Excellence in Volunteering Award. The award grants $5,000 to the organization featured in the winning employee’s application. AIA’s own Board Member, Bill Callahan, a Senior Scientist at Amgen, was chosen as one of eleven recipients for 2013. “I am very grateful to Amgen for providing this generous recognition,” said Bill, “and am pleased that my company has been so supportive of nonprofit organizations.”

Bill is no stranger to grant applications and was able to provide some insight via a written interview as to what helped AIA stand out from the impressive applicant pool. “The fact that there are many charities speaks to the generosity and concern of many Americans,” he stated. “In a grant application, knowing that potential donations are not diluted by excess administrative expenses is desirable. Since we [AIA] have extremely low administrative expenses, most of the money goes directly to the areas in Africa in which we operate. In addition, having established relationships with local village representatives whom we trust insures that the organization’s money is not frivolously spent.”  In fact, AIA ensures that at least 95% of its donations go directly towards its projects in Tanzania (building classrooms and desks), with no more than 5% reserved for administrative expenses.

In addition to AIA’s financial structure, Bill also stressed the importance of the organization’s concrete results. “Seeing firsthand the building of schools and supplying desks for children in need provide tangible evidence of the benefit of AIA,” he said. He also made note that through AIA’s recent construction of a secondary school, children in Olasiti Village will have the ability to “attend school…to the high school level and prepare themselves for a future in which jobs are becoming increasingly sophisticated.”

 

Some have questioned why global volunteer work such as that done by AIA is so important, given the fact that many Americans face pressing issues in their daily lives. “We are not islands unto ourselves,” Bill explained. “Having seen the conditions outside of our country, you realize how fortunate we are to live here.” He explains that due to an excessively high birthrate, Africans have to survive with highly limited resources. “It has been shown that education, and having access to education, results in an improved standard of living and less drain of resources,” states Callahan. “The more that countries such as Tanzania can be encouraged to help and sustain themselves, the greater is the benefit to all of us, including the United States. This can only happen if volunteerism on a global scale takes place.”

The AIA team as a whole extends their thanks and gratitude to Amgen for their generosity and to Bill Callahan for his diligence in pursuing ways to continue moving our mission forward.

PAMOJA, TUTAFAULU.
(“Together, we will achieve.”)

Our Response to Bombing in Tanzania

Yesterday, we learned of a tragic event that occurred on Sunday in Olasiti village, Tanzania, a village that Achieve in Africa has worked with very closely for nearly five years. Yesterday, at around 10:30 am, a bomb exploded at the entrance of a Roman Catholic Church that was opening for the first time and was being visited by the Vatican’s Ambassador to Tanzania. Incidents like this in Tanzania are rare, and officials believe the attack was aimed at the Ambassador, who was not hurt in the explosion. We are deeply saddened by this attack, which killed two and injured up to 60 other villagers.

The church is located next to Olasiti Primary School, where Achieve in Africa has built and renovated multiple classrooms. Achieve in Africa’s current project is building Olasiti village’s first secondary school, which is located just several hundred yards from the church. At this time, we do not yet know if any of our students were injured, but the entire village is in our thoughts and prayers as the community is recovering from this tragedy.

Classrooms built by AIA at Olasiti Primary School, next door to the church that was bombed on Sunday.

Our Project Director, Alex Marti, who lives in Olasiti village, was at the scene during the time of the incident. Thankfully, he and his family were not hurt. He accounts that he saw a man throw what appeared to be a rock towards the crowd at the entrance of the church. There were approximately 300 people there at the time. The individual who threw the bomb was caught by the people in the crowd and is now at the Police Station. Alex and his family are appreciative of all of our prayers and thoughts. He also mentioned that many leaders from the main government are coming to the village and that the President of Tanzania is expected to visit today.

In light of these events, the Achieve in Africa team has reflected on our work that you have made possible. The schools we are supporting are made up of students from all backgrounds and faiths. By supporting education in this village, we have given students of all religions the opportunity to study, learn, play, and laugh with one another peacefully under one roof.

Those responsible for this incident wanted to scare people. Rather than take a step back, we want to take a step forward. This act makes our team more determined to provide this village its first Secondary School, as this attack reinforces the need to have children learning together under one roof.

We can do this through your support today by asking you for a donation.

Pass this along to friends and family, and please help us respond with an even greater purpose in supporting this village through education.

Thank you,
Brendan Callahan, Co-founder & President, Achieve in Africa

Pamoja, Tutafaulu – Together, We Will Achieve

Thoughts & Prayers after Tragic Bombing in Tanzania

This morning we learned of a tragic event that occurred yesterday in Olasiti village, Tanzania, a village that Achieve in Africa has worked with very closely for nearly five years. We are deeply saddened to hear that an explosion killed two people and injured 30 other villagers at the official opening of the new Roman Catholic Church in Olasiti village. The Vatican’s Ambassador to Tanzania was attending, but was not hurt. We have reached out to our Project Director who lives in the village, and are awaiting a response to verify his and his family’s safety. We keep all those injured and affected by this horrible act in our thoughts and prayers.

Children in Olasiti village learn in a classroom built by AIA just feet from the Church that was bombed.

Children in Olasiti village learn in a classroom built by AIA just feet from the Church that was bombed.

Alex Marti, Achieve in Africa's Olasiti Project Director, saw the bombing firsthand as he was standing outside of the Church.

Alex Marti, AIA’s Project Director, witnessed the bombing.

UPDATE: According to our Project Manager, Alex Marti, who lives in the village and oversees the construction of AIA’s projects in the village, the explosion occurred around 10:30 AM on Sunday. It occurred at the Church that is next to Olasiti Primary School. Alex was at the scene when a man threw what appeared to be a rock towards the crowd at the entrance of the church. There were approximately 300 people there at the time. The individual who threw the bomb was caught by people in the crowd and is now at the Police station. Alex and his family are unhurt, and they are appreciative of everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Many leaders from the main government are coming to the village, and the President of Tanzania is expected to visit tomorrow.

AIA: Champion for Education – Thoughts from AIA’s Treasurer, Ricardo Rivera

“…remember this, they can take everything from you, but the one thing they can’t take is your education…you keep that for life…”

As an undergraduate I attended a leadership conference with a focus on educational pursuits. One of the speakers spoke the above words which had a lasting effect on me. He spoke of the struggles and obstacles some of us face in our pursuits to attain education, be it financial hardships, family obligations, or societal constraints. He spoke of his struggles involved in breaking of the “glass ceiling” and the lessons he learned. Although, his heartfelt speech may not exactly mirror my own life story, the point and moral of the story resonated with me; and can resonate with almost everyone.
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When confronted with obstacles during my educational pursuits, I reminded myself of the words spoken by that speaker. And although, the quote may not have fit every obstacle or situation; it is the underlying meaning that the quote relays: that education is a powerful tool that empowers and provides a person with the capability to persevere through life challenges. The unemployed educated worker stands a better chance for future employment because of his education. The broke entrepreneur can apply his business education and “know-how” to make money. This motivated me to push forward and attain the undergraduate degree and now an expected graduate degree.

Everyone, I’m sure, must face obstacles when they decide to pursue an education, but some face obstacles that are more severe: the lack of a school building, the lack of teachers. I am grateful that there are organizations, like Achieve in Africa, that seek to facilitate the educational pursuits of others. They seek to reduce the hardships for learning. And even though AIA may not be able to remove ALL obstacles, they do provide critical stepping stones for students’ giant leaps into their future education.
I consider AIA, and other similar organizations, a sort of anti-obstacles organization – the Champions of Education. And it is an honor to contribute my skills to further AIA’s mission. And wish great success in those seeking or currently pursuing more education, because education opens doors for future success.

Sincerely,
Ricardo Rivera
AIA Treasurer

What’s Happening With Education in Africa Today?

Here just a few recent events happening concerning education in Africa (and around the world).

Several schools all over the world are starting sister school or fundraising programs with African schools. Students at Coral Creek Elementary School in Louisville held a Valentines Day themed “Share the Love” fundraiser for the Sega Girls School in Tanzania. One of the goals that the students have is to provide desks and chairs for students who have none (Daily Camera). Similarly, students at Byrchall High School in Ashton, UK are connecting with Smiling Valley Intermediate Farm School in South Africa. Both schools do activities together to work on becoming global citizens and teachers from the schools will participate in an exchange visit in the future. (Wigan Today) It is also possible to connect with African students through AIA! Check out our YouTube page to meet four Tanzanian students, hear about their dreams and goals, and write them a supportive message that they will get to read!

Students in Olasiti, Tanzania  receiving a new batch of desks from AIA.

Students in Olasiti, Tanzania receiving a new batch of desks from AIA.

The World Policy Analysis Research Center recently released a report finding that education friendly laws can go a long way in helping children around the world to develop and thrive. The lead author of the report referenced actions such as the increase in widespread free access to primary education as a huge step in improving children’s welfare, but encourages many countries to take this step for secondary education also. He cites the fact that more than 60% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa still charge for secondary education as something that needs to be changed by governments. (Voice of America)

Finally, on Thursday, February 14, the Fund for Girls’ Education in Mozambique was launched by the government of the UK. The fund has budgeted about $9.3 million “to assist about a million girls living in poverty to improve their lives through education”. The project will help with monetary support as well as raising awareness about the importance of girls attending school. Girls’ education is needed to help break cycles of poverty, empower young girls, and protect women’s health. (All Africa)

– Haley Aubuchon

Update From Olasiti – New Classrooms Under Construction!

Have a look at the new second grade classrooms being built at Olasiti Secondary School.  We are so happy to be accommodating more children’s learning.  The classrooms are looking great!

You can see more photos from Olasiti and find out about other projects in other blog posts.  Click here to learn about the garden that the secondary school students are cultivating and check out our last building update here.

Many thanks to everyone who has supported us and helped to make these classrooms a reality.  To see how AIAs mission can have an impact and how education changes lives check out some facts and stats.  If you are interested in getting involved please consider donating or connecting with AIA.

Giving Thanks, Election Day, and Tanzania – Thoughts from AIA’s Fundraising Director, Nathan Yee

November 22, 2012

November began with a flurry of excitement over the approaching Election Day. The culmination of all the campaign destinations, public speeches, and debates over a wide array of relevant political/social/economic issues, would finally reach its climatic end with a candidate selected to oversee the future of this nation for the next four years.  While the presidential election stole the spotlight this night, something very peculiar was brewing in the state of California; the majority of its citizens were voting “yes” on Proposition 30.  They were saying “yes” to higher taxes.  This appeared well outside of California’s M.O. and would be considered taboo for the majority of its citizens.  Now if one were to eliminate the political jargon, Proposition 30 would read as the institution of a $6 billion dollar tax increase on personal income intended to offset spending cuts that would have depleted annual budgets for schools and public safety.  Without getting too political here, let’s view this at a fundamental level…California’s fight to save education and its public safety institutions.

As a byproduct of California’s public university system, I’ve seen the impact of a rattlededucational infrastructure.  Tuition hikes, limited class availability, teacher strikes, prolonged graduation dates, and even the diminished hopes that some will finish are all symptomatic of budget cuts to our schools.  So how is this all relevant to Africa? How does this first world problem resemble anything close to the day to day struggle for Tanzanian children to reach their career aspirations? Although there are some parallels that can be drawn here, the main undercurrent is perspective.  How fortunate of us to have the opportunity to learn and to be able to act towards our dreams.  How fortunate of us to be selective with the choices that determine our future and equip ourselves with invaluable knowledge to carry with us throughout a lifetime.  We are no more deserving in this world than anyone else.

Be thankful for your education.   We view ourselves from a materialistic lens, and are privileged to do so. Strip possessions away, and you will still be left with it. Achieve In Africa recognizes this and our mission has never been stronger.  We continue to instigate change for communities in need and have been touched by the resounding response…7 classrooms renovated, 8 classrooms constructed, 280 desks provided, 3 education sites with electricity, and 2,350 students impacted annually.  And this number is still growing.  In Obama’s acceptance speech, he exclaimed that “we are greater than the sum of our independent parts”…Let us put this into perspective and continue to prove it to ourselves and those we seek to help day after day.

– Nathan Yee – AIA Fundraising Director