Archive for July, 2011

July 29, 2011

When a dream becomes a reality…

As I think about our team that is currently visiting the project sites in Tanzania, I can only begin to imagine how meaningful this trip must be for them.   The leadership of Achieve in Africa displays tremendous dedication to the projects they support from overseas.  I’m sure it brings them a new kind of joy to see, in-person, the work that has come out of a dream conceived 4 years ago.

Contemplating their experiences, I am reminded of how I was fortunate enough to witness a dream become a reality during my five-month stay in South Africa.  While teaching at a small primary school, 23 international students, including myself, had the pleasure of getting to know a student body that displays an incredible amount of potential but faces a wide variety of obstacles to their education.  We were amazed at the resilience of our students and their ability to remain joyful in the face of challenges such as mental and physical disabilities and domestic issues.  We quickly fell in love with our students and were eager to dedicate much more of our time and resources to the school.  One of the needs we recognized was for a safe, defined space in which the students could play.  Out of this realization, Project Playground was born.  Through collaboration with the students, teachers and the school’s administration, we designed a playground that suited the needs and interests of the students and was realistic for the available space.  In order to get the word out about our project and raise the necessary funds, we sent out donation letters to family and friends, made commercials and videos about our project, and solicited help from local businesses.  Within three months we reached our goal of raising 3,000 USD.

The day before I flew home from South Africa, we hosted a celebration for the playground opening at the school.  The project came to its culmination for me when I was able to see the kids play on their playground for the very first time.  Even if I had not been able to see the playground constructed before I left, I would have felt satisfied knowing that we had raised the funds and the project would still be completed.  I am so grateful, however, that I did have the opportunity to see the physical manifestation of our work and to watch the children enjoy their new play space – to see them slip gleefully down the slide, to hear their laughter and excited chatter, and to witness them set aside their worries and simply enjoy being kids.  Now that I am back in the United States, it is the memories of that day that stay with me the most and motivate me to pursue work in international development.

I imagine that the stories and memories that our team gathers during their trip will stay with them, as well, and will renew in their passion for Achieve in Africa’s work.

– Kristin

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July 21, 2011

Tanzania Bound

After weeks of preparation, the time has finally arrived! Yesterday a group of Achieve in Africa’s board and staff members departed for Tanzania.  The group will remain in Tanzania until early August  and will use the time to visit Achieve in Africa’s various project sites.  The trip is partially sponsored by United Students for Africa and Achieve in Africa will travel with volunteers from the sponsoring organization to Olasiti village and Ulolela village.  Together, Achieve in Africa and the volunteers will work in the two villages to assist with the construction of the primary and secondary school buildings.  Additionally, the group will have the opportunity to meet with village leaders and provide cultural lessons to the local school children at the project sites.

Please be sure to continue to check out our blog – once the group has returned we will update the blog with pictures and stories from their exciting trip!

For more recent news and to learn about the progress that Achieve in Africa is making in Tanzania, please read our quarterly newsletter!

Thank you for your support,

Kristin

July 17, 2011

An Exciting New Partnership

Hello readers! My name is Kristin Todd and I am the Communications Intern this summer.  I am very excited to be working with Achieve in Africa, Inc. and to help get the word out about the organization’s projects.  I am a rising senior at George Washington University in Washington, DC and I am majoring in International Affairs with a regional concentration in Africa.  This past year I had the opportunity to study abroad for the entirety of my academic year.  In the fall I participated in a language immersion program in Barcelona, Spain.  This spring I studied in Stellenbosch, a small town just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, where I took classes that focused on community development and political and cultural transition in post-apartheid South Africa.

Throughout my time in college I have worked and volunteered in a variety of educational settings, both domestic and abroad.  My studies and experiences have taught me the importance of education in creating meaningful and sustainable change.  Education enables empowerment.  Education that is relevant to a community helps the members of that community to learn valuable skills that those individuals can use in their daily lives.  Additionally, education allows people to recognize their own potential.  They develop confidence in themselves and feel empowered to improve their own lives and the lives of the people around them.  Education has the ability to change lives.

During my time in South Africa, I taught once a week at a small primary school in a rural area called Lynedoch.  My work at Lynedoch revealed the value of education, not only for the children that attended school, but also for the local community.  In Lynedoch there exists a lack of financial education and entrepreneurial training within the community, as well as insufficient educational resources pertaining to prevalent health concerns such as HIV/AIDS.  Lynedoch is not a unique example of the need that exists for effective education.  Communities across Africa and other parts of the world hold substantial potential but lack the resources and knowledge to more effectively utilize the assets they already possess.  For this reason, organizations such as Achieve in Africa have the ability to help communities in significant ways.

When I learned about the various projects that Achieve in Africa has established and the resources that it has provided to communities in Tanzania, I was eager to find a way to get involved with the organization.  I was impressed by Achieve in Africa’s approach to development and its commitment to education.  I look forward to getting to know the organization better and helping to find new connections for Achieve in Africa in order to continue its valuable work.

July 10, 2011

What to Buy for a Trip to Africa – My Shopping List

As my trip to Africa gets closer, I’ve been busy shopping to get plenty of supplies. As part of our trip for the organization, we are traveling across Tanzania to our projects in Olasiti village (in the north) and Ulolela village and to Dar Es Salaam. So, some of these items are for our travel within the country, and aren’t necessarily important for all trips. Here’s my list so far:

– Africa appropriate clothing. I tried to get clothes that are conservative, but light and comfortable. I bought a bunch of light-weight shirts and Bermuda shorts from Target. Since our trip is during the summer in the US, it will be winter in Tanzania, so I’m going to bring a couple hoodies for night-time.

– A hiking backpack, for easily traveling around the country.

Permethrin bug spray for clothing (to be applied before you leave) and 100% deet bug spray for body

Safari hat (complete with dorky strap to keep it on our head)

– Sunglasses and strap (to keep them from flying off in the wind!)

– Flashlight

– First aid kit

– Wet wipes or baby wipes (with no or low alcohol to keep them from drying out)

– Ponchos (in case of rain)

– Suntan lotion

– Melatonin (to help with the jet lag)

– Unscented shampoo, conditioner and body wash

– Camera

– Extra batteries

– European outlet adapter

So, am I forgetting anything? Let me know!

– Alyssa