Lifting Lives and Building Futures in rural Tanzania for 10 years

Lifting Lives and Building Futures in rural Tanzania for 10 years

Amber Robinson, media lab intern, Boston University 2015

After 10 years of diligent efforts and partnership with the community, the Tanzanian Children’s Fund (TCF) is now home to over 100 children at the Rift Valley Children’s Village (RVCV). But that’s only part of the success story – over the past decade TCF has also become the managing partner of the #1 primary school in the district, provided free medical care to 8,000 local residents, and created a microfinance program that services 400 clients. To celebrate TCF “Lifting Lives and Building Futures” for 10 years, the organization held a cocktail reception on October 10th, 2013, outside of Boston. This past week I sat down with Amber Oberc, U.S. Managing Director, and Madeline Gordon, Manager of U.S. Operations, to hear about the reception, their reflections on the past 10 years, and their hopes for the next 10.

The reception ran from 6pm to 9pm at Stonehurst in Waltham and included TCF employees, volunteers, board members, donors, as well as the founder, India Howell. During the reception people mingled and reflected on how far the organization had come since its humble beginnings and how much had been achieved over the past 10 years.

A picture slideshow of the RVCV children played on a wall in the background and complemented the evening by reminding everyone of the lives they are helping to change in rural Tanzania.

Gordon said she believes in what Howell and the RVCV team is doing and sees “lasting, meaningful change” coming from it.

When I sat down with the U.S. employees supporting the Children’s Village from afar, Oberc and Gordon were also able to share some of what they find most rewarding in their work.

“It always hits me when I see or hear stories about how well kids are doing, and I know that what I’m doing is making a positive difference in their lives,” Oberc said.

Gordon explained how gratifying it is when she goes to Tanzania and is able to see the programs she helped to plan put into place.

When TCF started 10 years ago, one of the organization’s goals was to bring quality and affordable education to the district, and that is exactly what happened. In 2011, Tanzania’s Gyetighi Primary School became number one in its district, and is currently in the top 5% of schools nationwide. This caused the parents of students enrolled at Gyetighi to see the potential their children had, which in turn resulted in more parents keeping their children in school for longer, rather than resigning them to work on the coffee plantations to make money.

Looking forward at the next 10 years, TCF has launched a new campaign called “The Next Ten Fund” that will support the final phase of community development that TCF has introduced to the Oldeani Ward of Tanzania.

Howell unveiled “The Next Ten Fund” at the 10th Anniversary Celebration. The fund’s purpose is to support the partnership with Oldeani Secondary School, the local government high school. TCF believes this new partnership is necessary because currently there aren’t any secondary schools that can adequately meet the needs of Gyetighi’s graduating students. After 10 years of improving the education system at the primary level, TCF sees improvements at the secondary level as a crucial next step.

“If the next 10 years are anywhere near as successful as the past 10, we would be above and beyond excited,” Gordon said.