Posts tagged ‘Achieve in Africa’

July 9, 2012

Our New Website Has Launched!

Lots of exciting things are happening at Achieve In Africa these days! Along with the many other exciting developments we have blogged about, we are pleased to announce that AIA’s new website has launched!

You can check it out here!  On the website you can find out about our projects, how you can get involved, and tons of other info about AIA.  We look forward to seeing you there!



– Haley Aubuchon

July 7, 2012

More Updates from Olasiti!

We are pleased to announce that in addition to the 100 desks we blogged about last week, Achieve In Africa is undertaking even more expansion on Olasiti Secondary School in the form of two new classrooms.  With funds sent from AIA the team on the ground is very excited and hard at work on this new development.  Olasiti Secondary School will now be able to accommodate many more children and provide them with life changing education.  Check out our pictures of the concrete being mixed, and the foundation being dug and poured:





 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.

– Haley Aubuchon

June 28, 2012

Update from Olasiti

In our last field update we reported that our first batch of locally-produced desks and chairs had been completed and delivered to Olasiti Secondary School.  These desks allowed students to have their own space to learn and do schoolwork and meant that they no longer have to sit on old paint buckets and bricks in class.  However that first batch of desks and chairs was only the beginning.


We are happy to announce that our second batch of desks has been completed.  The 100 desks produced in the village have been brought to the school and now provide two additional classrooms with seating and workspace.


At the cost of $44 each desk allows a child to have their own space to complete their work and develop as a student. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project and Achieve in Africa.  Please consider donating or connecting with AIA to help us furnish the rest of the five existing classrooms and the additional classrooms that we plan to build in the future. 


– Haley Aubuchon

June 22, 2012

The Importance of Education Across the Globe

Here are some of AIA team member Katrina’s reflections on the importance of education all over the world.
I was recently asked to sign a petition to increase the number of charter schools in the United States.  This reminded me of some documentaries I have seen about the NYC charter schools system. These documentaries follow underprivileged families who are counting on education “lotteries” to pull their children from a future of poverty and violence. However, due to high demand and limited open seats, many are turned down and forced to attended their designated public school. As expected, the prosperous schools exist in the affluent neighborhoods, and their poor counterparts must face high dropout rates, strained resources, and crumbling facilities.
Good education is a resource that every child-in all countries and from all demographics-should have access to. And it’s sad that even in America, in one of the most successful countries in the world, that a family should have to fight for or roll the dice on a quality education.
– Katrina Schweithelm
What are your thoughts on access to education in America? Leave a comment below!
June 18, 2012

Why Africa?

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am very interested in and involved with issues and initiatives in Africa.  I have participated in a number of other projects and organizations that have fueled my passion for and informed me about Africa and this background is what led me to want to work with AIA.  Here are three reasons why I became and continue be passionate about Africa and its people.

 1. Because we are neighbors.

One question that I hear over and over again asks why I am interested in Africa when there is plenty of volunteer and activism work to be done closer to where I live.  My honest answer is that I don’t think of it that way.  Kindness, respect, and interest in each other does not stop at borderlines or continents.  Speaking up for, listening to, working with and helping others can and should cross oceans and transcend boundaries.

2. The people.

The people that I have worked with on African issues, like the AIA staff, students at my university, and the Africans that I have connected with along the way have been talented and inspiring.  Their spirit has always galvanized me to continue learning about Africa and to become more and more involved.

 3. The amazing things already happening


One of the amazing things happening in Tanzania: students learning in an Olasiti Primary School classroom built by AIA

Although Africa struggles (as all continents struggle) with issues like poverty, AIDS, and conflict there are many accomplishments and triumphs happening there every day that the Western world often misses out on hearing about.  Rwanda has the highest level of female representation in its national parliament of any country in the world.  The rivers of the Democratic Republic of Congo are estimated to be able to provide hydro-electric power for the entire continent.  And according to the UN the rate of new HIV infections in 15-49 year old South Africans decreased from 2.35% in 2001 to 1.49% in 2009.

-Haley Aubuchon

If you too are interested in Africa leave a comment or tweet us @achieveinafrica with your reasons why.

June 7, 2012

How Can Preschool Change the World?

When you were four or five-years-old did you attend preschool?  Chances are that you probably did, since according to the World Bank 69% of Americans attended preschool as of 2010.

I attended preschool as a child and most of my memories include waiting impatiently for the school bus, singing songs, and playing with blocks and beads more than actual learning.  It doesn’t seem all that important, but singing the ABCs is what will teach a child to read, circle time and learning to share will show a little boy or girl respect and kindness toward others that will stay with him or her forever.  Learning before primary school is the foundation for all the years of education to come.

Olasiti primary school classroom.

A recent study conducted by the World Bank on a Save the Children preschool program in rural Mozambique agrees.  The results reported stated that children who attended preprimary school were 24% more likely to enroll in primary school and were far better off when they reached primary school.  In addition to having more knowledge, the children in the program were more interested in learning math and writing than those who were not and had more respect for other children. Preschool also had positive effects on students’ families as parents of children in school were more likely to work and their older siblings were also more able to attend school.  The best part? This program that set kids on an excellent path for future learning only cost $2.47 per month per child. The worst part? In Tanzania, where Achieve In Africa is currently working on several education initiatives only 33.2% of children attended preprimary school in 2010 according to the World Bank.

Studies and programs like these show how important and impactful education programs can be.  If preschool is so important then imagine the significance of primary and secondary education.  Primary and secondary school is where many students learn how to read and write, speak other languages, craft arguments, understand calculus, or perform chemistry experiments.

Support preprimary education.   Support education.  Support Achieve in Africa.  See how it changes the world.

March 15, 2012

Facts and Stats on Education in Africa (Part 2)

I can’t believe it was three yeas ago that I posted the first post of interesting facts I’ve come across on education in Africa. Brought back by popular demand, here are some more interesting facts and stats on education in Africa. Special thanks to Kristin for compiling most of these 🙂

Facts on Girls’ Education in Africa

  • A girl who finishes basic education is 3 times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS. (USAID)
  • If all women in sub-Saharan Africa finished secondary education, 1.8 million lives could be saved annually. (USAID)
  • Nearly half (47%) of primary school aged girls are not attending school. (Nation Master)
  • For every year that a girl remains in school beyond 4th grade, their wages increase 20%. (USAID)
  • Between 2004 and 2010, pregnancy among Tanzanian girls aged 15 to 19 years fell by about 12%. Still, more than 40% of young women begin having children by age 18, and the country has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world. (UNICEF)
  • In 2010, a survey showed that at least 93% of girls from the wealthiest households completed primary education, as compared to only 54% from the poorest families. (The Citizen)
  • Girls in urban areas of Tanzania were eight times more likely to finish secondary education than girls in rural areas. (The Citizen)
  • In Tanzania, 49% of girls among the wealthiest households compared with only 9% from the poorest families complete secondary education. (The Citizen)

School Enrollment in Africa

  • Globally, 69 million school-age children are not currently attending school. (The New York Times)
  • Currently, Tanzanian children are expected to receive 5.3 years of schooling in their lifetimes. (UN)
  • About 58% of 5-to- 6-year-olds in Tanzania do not attend pre-primary schools, which serves as a foundation for better educational outcomes. (The Citizen)
  • There are 604,378 primary-school aged children who do not currently attend school. (Nation Master)
  • Only 72% of students complete primary school. (Nation Master)
  • The student-teacher ratio in Tanzanian primary schools is 55.86 students per teacher. (Nation Master)
  • Two thirds of Tanzanian children do not go on to secondary school. (UNICEF)
  • Only 0.7% of students enroll in tertiary education. (Nation Master)

Poverty and Education

  • Many of the 7.6 million young Tanzanian children today are living in poverty.  (The Citizen)
  • Typically, poor countries devote budgets for education disproportionately to universities and higher education, because urban, middle-class students and their families have political clout. Consequently, primary schools in rural areas and urban slums are widely neglected. (The New York Times)
  • 88% of Tanzania schoolchildren in urban areas were attending primary school, as compared with 78% in rural schools. (The Citizen)
  • For each year of school completed, an individual’s earnings increase by 10%. (USAID)
  • On average, Tanzanian adults have had 5.1 years of schooling. (UN)

Literacy in Africa

  • Less than three-quarters (73%) of Tanzanian adults are literate. (World Bank)
  • Among Tanzanians aged 15 to 24 years, 79% of males and 76% or females are literate. (World Bank)
January 30, 2012

My Labor of Love: Building Schools in Africa (Part 2)

Hi there,

Check out Part 2 of my post on the MSL Conversations Blog about AIA’s trip to Tanzania this past summer. If you haven’t yet, check out my first post about our time rebuilding classrooms in Olasiti village.

– Alyssa

After a week in Olasiti village, our group traveled to Ulolela village in southeastern Tanzania. The trip took two days – a full day (15-hour) bus ride (on the African version of a Greyhound), followed by an equal-length car ride the next day. But it was worth it when we were met with a celebration of traditional African singing and dancing, which followed us for the last mile of our trip.

In Ulolela, we stayed with host families for five days and oversaw the final construction on our Community Learning Center. We held a village meeting to celebrate the opening of our Center, the only building in the village with electricity—I even flipped on the lights for the first time after they installed the solar panels! Classes in the CLC will begin soon, and will have curricula on self-empowerment, business fundamentals, and HIV/AIDS awareness, which we had translated into Swahili.

Ulolela village was the most remote location I’d ever been to – the closest city (i.e. had some electricity and plumbing) was an hour away. But the simplicity was beautiful. The village was in a valley surrounded by hills with patches of farming land. We went on hikes to neighboring villages and the highest peaks, and saw waterfalls, Lake Malawi, and a walking stick (!!). We played soccer with young villagers, who beat us without breaking a sweat, on the most picturesque field on Earth.

After saying goodbye to my host mother, who gave me a decorative, handmade axe that I somehow got back into the states, we had another two-day journey to Dar Es Salaam. Unfortunately, the closest I came to an actual safari was passing through a wildlife reservation, but I still saw monkeys, a far-off giraffe, and a zebra crossing the road.

But, in Swahili, “safari” actually means “journey.” So, from founding the organization with my fiancé, to managing our three projects, to our trip this summer, it’s been quite the safari. And thankfully, it’s just the beginning.

January 23, 2012

My Road to Building Schools in Africa

Hi all,

I recently posted on the MSL Conversations Blog about my trip to Tanzania, and I’m posting it below to share with you all. Part 2 is coming soon!

– Alyssa

Three and a half years ago, I was another college student at Boston University trying to map out a career path, but unsure where I wanted to go. I love to write and my first dream job was to be an author, rather than, say, an astronaut. This led me from journalism to public relations. Why write the news when I can make the news? But more than that, I wanted to use my skills to help others.

This inspired me to join my fiancee, Brendan Callahan, to co-found Achieve in Africa (AIA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is devoted to improving education in rural villages of Africa.

This past July, I got the opportunity to see what I’ve been working on for the first time when another organization expressed interest in sending a group of students to our project sites in Tanzania. Around this time, MSLGROUP Americas (Note: I work in the MSL Washington DC office) announced its Beyond Boundaries Experiential Awards designed to recognize and reward employees with learning and professional development opportunities that enhance their MSLGROUP Americas experience and deliver on agency values. One of the awards was a paid sabbatical to work on a cause program. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to win the sabbatical to pursue my volunteer work. When I received an email saying I won, I burst into tears of gratitude.

Along with Brendan and a group of volunteers, I was able to see our three projects: a classroom building in Olasiti Primary School outside of Arusha in northern Tanzania, a Community Learning Center in Ulolela village outside of Mbinga in southern Tanzania, and the site of Olasiti’s first secondary school (grades 7 and above), currently under construction.

While in Olasiti village, our group renovated seven classrooms by reinforcing the base of the walls with cement to avoid flooding, digging trenches to route rainwater away, and painting the outside of the classrooms. We also repaired a damaged classroom that was unusable by replacing the concrete floor, fixing cracked walls, and repainting the classroom inside and out. It sounds easy, but did I mention we mixed the cement by hand? And we painted with rollers stuck on the end of tree branches? It was a true lesson in what it means to be resourceful.

Olasiti village is unshakable — a community into which we were welcomed wholeheartedly. Olasiti Primary School’s headmistress taught me how to count in Swahili, how to carry a bucket of water on my head, and she gave me traditional handmade African cloth head wraps. I taught my “three African daughters” (who I wish I could’ve brought home with me) animal noises and ring-around-the-rosie, even though they were all under the age of five and didn’t understand any English. But aren’t they cute?


August 25, 2011

Achieve In Africa’s new Squidoo page is up!

Check out Achieve In Africa’s great new Squidoo lens where we will conveniently host all of our new media resources, a plethora of video updates, and our project locations in one, convenient place! Give our lens a “thumbs up” if you like it, and leave comments for future updates.