Astridah is working to create employment and vocational training opportunities for her local community and serves on the board to the sega girls school.
“Good morning mama, I have sent the project plan, I had to go to the internet café. Pole,” writes Astridah. She has just sent an email to Unite with a detailed proposal of her farm expansion. “Pole” means slowly in Swahili. Everything in Africa is “pole,” but there is nothing “pole” about Astridah. She graduated from the University of Zambia and has more than 34 years of teaching experience in Math and Geography. As a board member to the Secondary Education for Girls Advancement School (SEGA) she has experience in school management, budgeting, strategic planning, and student counseling. Though she has known success, Astridah has had her fair share of struggles. She currently resides on her 15 acre Ilondola Farm overlooking the Uluguru mountains. Ilondola farm is home to chickens, vegetables, bees, orange trees, and the list goes on. There is much work to be done and many places to improve. When her husband passed away, many of the plans he had to develop the land slowed down. To this day, Astirdah is fighting to retain ownership of the land since it legally belonged to her late husband. In Tanzania, women land ownership is rare and attaining land rights is a tricky process. However Astridah still remains one of strongest leaders in her community. With Unites support, Astridah has big plans for her farm. In her own words, “Ilondola Farm endeavors to become a model farm in empowering our local community in microfinance through various farming activities by using modern technology. Ilondola farm is set out to provide opportunities for economic and social development of the Mzumbe local community.” Her firsthand knowledge of her communities inform her realistic vision for vocational training, business education, and micro finance programs. Her work at the Sega Girls School, and before that Askofu Adrian Mkoba Secondary School, led her to create programs designed for disadvantaged girls (usually girls who dropped out or couldn't attend school because of pregnancy). Her vision and skill has empowered young girls all over Tanzania. Astridah is a powerful leader, incredible women, and a visionary. She is the definition of pamoja: together. Her emails are short yet her hope it palpable in every word as she concludes “my love and prayers to you, Astridah”
Sister Crispina is the founder of st. Joseph's orphanage. she takes care of 43 children of all ages, sending each one to private school. she also runs the heaven primary school for the younger children on site.
The mornings begin early at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. The roosters start crowing around five am and the morning bell rings not soon thereafter. At 5:30 the children enter the dining hall, pick up a prayer book, and the day commences with at least half an hour of praying. All prayers are done in Swahili and there is something mesmerizing about their unison. Sister Crispina Mnate, the energetic Whoopi-Goldberg-like nun who founded St. Joseph’s, leads the children in a half-chant, half-song through their morning ceremony, with a volume as if to wake God himself up. Around six am the prayers come to a close and the children eat and head off to school. Just another morning at the St. Josephs Orphange, home to 43 orphans all adopted and loved by Sister Crispina. It is hard to believe that just 15 years ago, Sister Crispina was given just three acres of land and the equivalent of $20 USD by a local pastor to found St. Joseph’s. With the money, she purchased concrete and began laying the foundation for the first dormitory. From there, Good Samaritans began bringing abandoned babies, and — by going door-to-door asking for help — support started to trickle in. Crispina’s joy for life is infectious, and her devotion and commitment to each and every one of her now 43 children is motivating and inspiring. Currently Crispina runs the Heaven school, an onsite preschool and is now making plans to build a primary school on site. Sister Crispina believes that the most important thing she can give these children is an education; therefore all of the children attend private schools made possible through Unite’s continuing student sponsorship program.
Margaret is a Maasai women with a teaching and education background. She is responsible for the direct sales of tanzania maasai women art (TMWA), a micro enterprise that is committed to creating a stable and sustainable income source for the rural maasai women.
“I love it when the women are happy… It is very rewarding to see that I can contribute to their life improvement. I am one of them,” writes Margaret. Indeed, she is one of the Maasai women, perhaps a bit more urban but nonetheless, the Maasai are her people. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic tribe known for their characteristic brightly colored dress and customs. Margaret grew up with her 9 brothers and sisters in Kibaya, helping her mother around the boma and caring for her family’s animals. After deciding that she did not enjoy learning about sewing and cooking at her village school, she asked her father to send her to a private secondary school in Babati. Margaret speaks very highly of her father who was able to send her to school by selling some of the families most important resources, animals. After several more years of education, ending her studies at a two-year teaching college, Margaret worked as a teacher for special needs children. However, when she heard of a position opening for Tanzania Maasai Women Art in 2007, she felt it was an opportunity to help improve the lives of the Maasai people that she knew and loved. For the first two years of her employment, she worked as a coordinator on the project until it became an independent non-profit organization that was fully self-sustainable. Currently, Margaret serves as the liason between the Maasai women and the company, and she runs the retail shop that has opened in Arusha, 250 kilometers from where she was born. She meets with the women groups out in the bush, and discusses and solves their problems and issues. Western business is very different then what they are used to and the majority of the women are illiterate. Her hope is “to see the women be able one day to become more independent and more organized in order to be able to manage several little projects by themselves and have the confidence to start new activities.”