Archive for December, 2011

December 21, 2011

Looking to give back this holiday season?

As we take part in this season of giving – running around to overcrowded shopping malls, making lists of presents we hope to give and receive, wrapping boxes, searching for that perfect Secret Santa present – it’s easy to get caught up in the superficial aspects of the season.  This holiday season we encourage you to reflect on what’s important to you and to think about what you want to take precedence in your life.

At Achieve in Africa, we value education. We value building relationships and utilizing those relationships to help others recognize their potential and build better futures for themselves.

If these are things that you value as well, then we encourage you to consider using this holiday season to make a difference in someone else’s life.

In that spirit, we’d like to remind you of ways that you can engage with the work of Achieve in Africa…

You can become an AIA Ambassador! As an ambassador you can fundraise with your classmates, group of friends, club, or on behalf of your town. No previous fundraising experience is necessary, just an interest in Achieve in Africa’s mission. To receive the AIA Ambassador Manual to help get you started, please email with your name, the city and state where you plan on fundraising, and any additional information you care to share to introduce yourself.

You can spread the word! Send a message to a friend, shop for AIA, or make a donation in someone else’s name. For ideas on how to educate others about AIA check out our page:

You can make a donation! It’s as easy as clicking a button (check out the sidebar).  We have enough stuff in our lives,  ignore the appeal of holiday sales and consider giving the gift of education on behalf of a loved one.


We appreciate your continued support.  Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

December 16, 2011

Higher Education in Africa

While primary education is an essential step forward,  the importance of higher education should not be neglected.

According to a UNESCO report on education in Africa, enrollment rates in higher education in sub-Saharan Africa are by far the lowest in the world.

The report brings to light the importance of higher education in our changing world:

“Higher education continues to play a vital role, which is likely to increase further, in the new knowledge-based and globalizing economy. Thus, beyond the question of the fundamental right to education of all levels, acquiring knowledge to navigate the complexities of this world is a necessity for everyone especially the groups that have been hitherto marginalized.

Women compose one of those marginalized groups.

In developing countries, especially in Africa, there are still historical, cultural, and economic factors that have been hindering women’s chances for access to and benefits from formal education, especially at the tertiary level.

Looking specifically at Tanzania, data from the Basic Education Statistics in Tanzania (BEST), shows that in both government and non-governmental higher learning institutions (of which there are currently 32), the percentage of female students has been rising from 31.4 percent  in 2007/2008 – or 16,358 students – to 37.1 percent (51,860 students) in 2010/2011. The total to both gender is 45,501 in 2007/2008 and 139,638 in 2010/2011.

Increasing tertiary education opportunities for women can make a big difference in Tanzania.  In the country today there is the saying ‘ukimwelimisha mwanamke umeelimisha jamii’.  In English this means: “If you educate a woman, you educate a family.”  This statement captures the profound effect that women can have on the overall well-being of society.  By gaining access to higher education, women who aspire for knowledge  can supplement the communal struggle to eliminate poverty.

Associate Prof Marit Tjomsland of University of Bergen, Tunisia, insists that ” women’s higher education stands as a highly efficient way of shaping more gender-equitable societies and thus as a major vehicle for general development.”

Providing women in Africa with access to higher education opportunities can have a huge impact.  Increasing education can help to break down cultural barriers, remove gender stereotypes, and strengthen development efforts.

December 7, 2011

Updates from Ulolela

One of Achieve in Africa’s most recent projects is the construction of a Community Learning Center in Ulolela village in southern Tanzania.  The learning center is used to promote after-school learning for students from surrounding schools.  In addition to after-school tutoring, the CLC will soon offer self empowerment courses for women, business fundamentals training for entrepreneurs, agriculture education for farmers, and HIV/AIDS awareness for teenagers and adults.  The Center is powered by solar panels on the roof, and is the only structure in the village of Ulolela and surrounding villages with electricity.  Students can use the CLC to study without needing to burn an expensive oil lantern.

The Learning in a Village Project (LEVI), AIA’s partner in the CLC, recently sent an update to its constituents about AIA’s recent visit to the village:

In August, the Fourth-Annual Weeks of Sports and Learning descended upon Ulolela, bringing together villagers of all ages, government leaders and volunteers from the United States. For two weeks, the parties conducted stakeholders meetings, performed communal labor, and took part in reading, writing and athletic competitions.

Volunteers included Brendan Callahan, founder and president of Achieve in Africa; Alyssa Snow, co-founder and vice president Achieve in Africa; Michael Wurth, Jenny Le and Ethan Bockenstette, from United Students for Africa. The volunteers were greeted with a special ngoma, a traditional drum ceremony.

Alyssa Snow (right), vice president of Achieve in Africa, and Jenny Le,a volunteer from United Students for Africa, dancing at the ngoma.

At a village meeting to announce the opening of the CLC, Fokas Nchimbi, AIA’s Learning Center Program Manager and founder of LEVI, noted that Achieve in Africa was especially important, as we funded the construction of the CLC, as well as the solar panels on its roof.

Electrician installing a solar panel at the Ulolela Community Learning Center

Fokas Nchimbi also stressed the importance of HIV/AIDS education and prevention, as lack of knowledge about the disease is one of the current challenges facing Ulolela.  At the meeting, Brendan Callahan, AIA’s president, introduced new learning program curricula (Self-Empowerment for Women, Business Education, HIV/AIDS Education and Internship Training) that will be implemented at the Ulolela Community Learning Center.

Great progress is being made in Ulolela and we are excited to see the Learning Center and the programs implemented serve as valuable educational resources for the community.

If you would like to learn more about the Learning Center and how you can help support the project, please visit our website.

December 2, 2011

‘Beginning of the End of AIDS’…remembering World AIDS Day

It’s World AIDS Day!  Today it is important that we remember those who have been affected by AIDS, but it is equally imperative that we use this day as an opportunity to look towards the future.  In the 30 years since the disease emerged, more than 30 million people have died and twice as many have been infected with HIV.  Despite these startling numbers, progress is being made.  While around 50,000 people in the sub-Saharan region had access to treatment in 2002, there are now 4.7 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine in the region and 6.6 million people worldwide.

Progress has been made. If we want to end this global epidemic, however, that progress must continue.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal today, former President George W. Bush  stated that “the promise of progress against the disease has never been more vivid—or more fragile.”  The US has dedicated tremendous funds and brainpower to fighting this disease, but the battle is not won yet and it is important that we keep focused on our goal.  President Bush made that point clear in his message:  “At the same time that a renewed commitment on AIDS is needed, there is a risk it could be weakened. America and Europe face fiscal constraints. During moments of economic hardship, there is a temptation for Americans to disengage from the world. But isolationism is always shortsighted and too often leads to greater hardship and despair in places that need our help…In the U.S., foreign humanitarian assistance, including AIDS relief, represents less than 1% of our federal budget. It is not the cause of our fiscal problems. Reducing our commitment would only succeed in increasing the sum of suffering.”

There have been many commemorative  events today — one of which brought together three presidents of the United States.  President Obama, along with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as Alicia Keys, Bono, and other notable AIDS activists, joined in a discussion this afternoon about the future of AIDS eradication.  In his address, Obama emphasized that we are at the “beginning of the end of AIDS”.  Obama announced $50 million in new money for domestic treatment plans as well as insisted on the importance of international support: “it’s important to keep in mind that this is a global fight, one that America must continue to lead.” (If you would like to view the entire presentation, click here)

Education is a crucial tool in this battle.  Commit yourself to the cause and EDUCATE yourself on this issue – so that you can more effectively share that information with others and serve as a powerful agent for change.

As Obama stated earlier today, “We just have to keep at it, steady, persistent, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero…that has to be our promise to each other — because we have come so far; we have saved so many lives. We might as well finish the fight.”