Posts tagged ‘helping Africa’

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?


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

June 18, 2011

Countdown to Africa… So Much to Do!

Hi readers!

I’m so excited to share that I am going to Africa for the first time this summer! Brendan and I are leading a group to our two project sites in the villages of Olasiti and Ulolela in Tanzania. (It’s going to be a lot of travel- check out the map on our homepage.)

I would normally be more nervous about traveling so far for the first time, but luckily for me, Brendan has been to Tanzania twice before, in 2007 and 2009. So, he’s my guinea pig for all my questions (What do I pack? What will the weather be like? Can I do laundry? What will the food be like? etc. etc.)

So, as my departure date is almost a month away, here’s what I’ve taken care of so far:

  • Immunizations (very important not to wait for the last minute on this one, because some are pills you need to take before you go and should be in your system at least 2 weeks before you leave.)
  • Travel visa (everything’s in order to get it during our travel. You can get it before leaving, but separating from my passport goes against everything my dad’s instilled in me.)
  • Travel arrangements (from flights to lodging)
  • Telling my parents (they are as excited as they can be, but I’m pretty sure my mom will lose a lot of sleep while I’m gone. Worrying is genetic.)
  • Getting approval from work

Still on the list:

  • Getting new Africa clothes (Even if it’s just casual clothes that will likely be ruined during painting and building, shopping for a new wardrobe is always exciting. Especially because, unlike another pencil skirt, I really NEED these :))
  • Going to REI (travel backpack, loads of bug spray and sunscreen, and other outdoorsy supplies that I do not have.)
  • Spray aforementioned clothes with aforementioned bug spray.
  • Get wine shipping bags for any liquids that will go in checked bags to avoid spilling. (Great tip from a member of our Board)
  • Pack.
  • Decide whether to get international phone.
  • Buy books and stack iPod with lots of music for long trips (The flight has 3 stops each way, and we’ll be traveling on buses for a few days during the trip.)

Do any of you travel veterans have suggestions?? Am I forgetting anything? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks always for your support,


April 17, 2011

Students Looking to Make a Difference? You’ve come to the right place.

As a non-profit, we’re always looking to find students to get involved. It’s a powerful thing- students working together to help other students across the world. I first got into non-profit work through volunteering and working at fundraisers at my high school that I did to add to my college resume. And it became seeded in my head that if I’m going to work hard at a job for most of my life, then I want it to help people. But it’s not easy to go from wanting to make a difference to actually doing it.

So, we created the AIA Ambassador Program to help students who want to help us. When a student (of any age) wants to become an AIA Ambassador and organizing a fundraiser (or many) to support education in Africa, we give them tools, ideas and tips to help them through the process of fundraising. AIA Ambassadors receive a packet including:

  •     Welcome letter
  •     Sample flier and brochure
  •     Ideas for fundraisers
  •     Tips for promoting their fundraisers

This toolkit makes it easier for middle school, high school and college students to successfully fundraise for Achieve in Africa by getting insight into what has worked well in the past.

For more information on the AIA Ambassador program or if you would like to get directly involved, please contact



April 5, 2011

Achieve in Africa Announces New Project in Tanzania (and other news)

We are excited to tell you that our next project will be constructing the first secondary school in Olasiti village in northern Tanzania.

As you might recall, we completed construction on two new classrooms for the overcrowded Olasiti Primary School in 2010. Olasiti Village’s most immediate need is now a secondary school.

We plan to build Olasiti Secondary School one two-classroom building at a time.  The cost of a classroom is $5,000 USD.  After construction, we will also provide desks and other necessary supplies. For more information about Operation Olasiti or how to help, please click here.

For more updates, check out our Spring 2011 newsletter.

Asanteni! (Swahili for “thank you all!”)


March 23, 2011

Why I Intern for Achieve in Africa

My name is Yejide Olutosin. I am junior African Studies major and French minor at Howard University. My name is Yoruba, from Nigeria – where my father is from. My mother is from St. Thomas, USVI. I am originally from Atlanta, GA.Yejide Olutosin Achieve in Africa intern

I came to DC because I am interested in pursuing a career in foreign diplomacy and international relations. My long-term career goals are to become a Foreign Service Officer and eventually an Ambassador to an African francophone country. I am interested in AIA’s mission because I wholeheartedly believe that education is paramount in Africa’s development. AIA is an organization that truly believes in helping Africa, by providing the tools necessary for the people in Tanzania to reach their full potential.

As an intern, I hope to gain further knowledge about Achieve in Africa, Inc. as well as learn about how international non-profits are run. Furthermore, I hope to gain educational work experience which will allow me to relate what I am learning as an African Studies major to the real world. This hands-on internship will give me the understanding and experience that is necessary for me to achieve my own personal career goals and thrive in my future endeavors.

– Yejide

March 12, 2011

Time to Re-energize the AIA Blog

After taking a hiatus from the AIA Blog (read: got a new job and got overwhelmed), I think it’s time to bring the blog back to life. Thankfully, I have a wonderful intern, Yejide, to help me keep it up-to-date and add her great insights and experiences.

Even though I haven’t been updating the blog, the progress with AIA is moving along remarkably.  We have completed the Olasiti Primary School classrooms, are almost finished with the Community Learning Center in southern Tanzania, and are now fundraising for the first-ever Secondary School in Olasiti Village in norhtern Tanzania. We also have launched a new website and video.

Keep on the look out for Yejide’s first post, where she’ll tell you about her background and what she hopes to get out of working with AIA.

April 15, 2009

Facts on Education in Africa

In research for AIA, I’ve been finding some really powerful statistics about Africa, and it seems to mean that it all leads back to primary education. That’s why I believe in our cause so much- because I think education is the key to helping poverty and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Read on…

• Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased in the past 25 years.
• 32 of the world’s 38 heavily indebted poor countries are in Africa.
• Half the population of Africa lives on less than US $1 a day.
Slums are home to 72% of urban Africa’s citizens.
• Primary school enrollment in African countries is among the lowest in the world.
33 million primary school-aged children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not go to school. 18 million of these children are girls.
• In Sub-Saharan Africa, only two-thirds of children who start primary school reach the final grade.
• Although literacy rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate.
• There is an average of 40 pupils per teacher in sub-Saharan Africa, but the situation varies considerably from country to country. In many countries, it is more than 60 to one.
• Africa loses an estimated 20,000 skilled personnel a year to developed countries.
• Average life expectancy in Africa is only 46 years.
• There are an estimated 5,500 AIDS deaths a day in Africa.
• AIDS decreases in villages where there are primary schools.
• In Uganda, a child who quits attending school is three times more likely to be HIV positive later on in life than a child who completes basic education.
• HIV/AIDS is likely to claim the lives of 10% of teachers within the coming five years, and 20% of school-age children will be AIDS orphans.

facts of education in Africa AIDS orphans in Africa

Children in Africa line up for buses to go back to their orphanages after school.

What do you think after hearing this? Is education the solution? I want to hear your reactions/thoughts!