Thursday, October 24, 2013


Almost everywhere you go in the villages around Kilimahewa, families have several chickens for their own use or to earn a few shillings.  Few villagers, however, have the wherewithal to build a sustainable business with these chickens.  First, theft is a widespread problem at night.  Second, the chicken-raising business, as Mama Grace knows first-hand from her years of experience, is not so simple.

This August, we decided to attack this situation and teach those students who want to advance from subsistence farmers into businessmen/women how to go about caring for and selling chickens.  The first batch of 400 “broiler” chicks was delivered in early August.  These chicks are nurtured for 6 to 8 weeks, after which they are sold.  [There are also layer chickens who produce eggs, but that is a more costly start-up and will be the second phase of our project next year].

Two weeks ago, the selling process began.  Here is a pictorial summary of our first batch. 


Yesterday, Mama Grace reported that only about 12 chicks remain.  Of the 400, only several died while being raised.  Unfortunately, however, one batch of about 35 did not fare well after being sold because they had not been properly cleaned out.  This is one of the many aspects of the chicken business that Mama Grace, along with a community member who has quite a successful business, are teaching both Aristede, Kilimahewa’s groundskeeper (and future instructor), and the students.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I'm on my way back to the States, but here's a quick look at why our fundraising means so much.

As happens often, I was strategically seated on the flight to Tanzania.  This time I found myself next to a Tanzanian female Lutheran pastor who runs a vocational boarding school for single moms and other young women shut out of government education.  This is exactly the population that EdPowerment serves, and looking ahead, it seems that the Angaza Women's Centre in Sanya Ju might be a good place for some of our young women to pursue practical skills that enable independence.

What follows is a "taste" of the tools that Angaza uses for culinary training.

A jiko wood burning oven 

Modern cooking conveniences

The Stove!

Places such as Angaza fill such a gap.  They give life back to young women who have no prospects and often suffer abuse and subjugation. But they do so with the barest of resources.  They struggle  to sustain themselves in a world where consumer markets thrive and the most basic of kitchens in the developed world never look like this.

Perhaps in the near future, EdPowerment can support Angaza by enrolling appropriate young women as paying students in their programs... and possibly purchase a piece of equipment!  Donations to EdPowerment allow us to channel support to places such as Angaza and to young women seeking employable skills in Tanzania.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


 Lessons on Microsoft Word for Kilimahewa’s older students started this week.

Our trio of young male teachers, Tom K, Tom M (our sponsored student who recently completed his B.S. in computer science) and Godlisten E, took on this challenge with teenagers who have not yet joined the digital age.  

Picture the scene:  Students (who have completed a Mavis Beacon keyboarding course) navigate the desktop to the icon (new word) “Word” where they open the screen to an entirely new language: “task bar,” “ribbon,” “status bar,” “font”!!! But wait – first we have to show them how to create a “folder” to hold their documents! Now we pull out visual aids – an actual folder in which we place papers.  They start to get it the overall concept.  Back to the document.  Type the sentence, “I am a Kilimahewa student.”  Now, look at the task bar and look at the Font section.  Bold – what’s that?  Italic?  Increase size, decrease size, highlight, and right click… right click… right click… you lost everything???  Ah, here’s the “undo” button – the most important button on the “taskbar.”

Are you getting the picture?  Take a look:

After mounds of patience and lots of repetition, trial and error, students begin to figure out how to format and change their writing.  One hour evaporates.  Now to explain, “Save as,” label your document, find your folder – SCROLL – what, you say???  Now that you’ve saved it,  find it…. and now, just “Save” – no more “Save as.” WHEW….

The first day.  A tortuous beginning.  But check back in three months.  
 Kilimahewa students will be joining the global conversation.  

Working on Buy-In

Working on Buy-In

My first meeting with the parents and guardians of the teenagers who attend the Kilimahewa Center took place over two years ago.  At the time, I wanted to tell the adults about the changes coming to this community school –professional Tanzanian teachers, a government curriculum and books, even individual desks.  I wanted to drum up awareness of and enthusiasm for these new learning opportunities. (Reminder- these are teens who can no longer access formal schooling).

Yesterday's meeting was a little more somber; a little more chastising; and a lot more focused, not on what EdPowerment offers, but on how they, as responsible adults, should direct and support their children.  What we’ve learned in almost four years of operating in a ward of marginalized and broken families is that there are some challenges that transcend geographical borders.   One of these universal challenges is convincing low-functioning parents, particularly fathers, that life can and should be better for their children – but only if their adolescents walk through the doors provided. And sometimes, what's required is a parental shove.

As the Swahili expression goes, Tutaona – we’ll see.  In the meantime, our teachers and the Center’s Director, Grace Lyimo, are putting together a full court press to prep the older students, who will be take the first Qualifying Test (that offers a road back to a secondary school degree) in 6 weeks, and to energize the younger 13 and 14 year olds to work on English, math, and computer skills that will open online learning.  I try to remember that many of these kids walk miles a day to and from school in the heat with little to no breakfast).

Despite rejection by a government system and society, a world of possibilities does exist for these teenagers because of EdPowerment.  But only they can grab the “golden ring” of education (sorry, just had to use a Catcher in the Rye allusion :).

Rebecca, our academic headmistress