Monday, November 25, 2013


Congratulations to EdPowerment’s first sponsored student university graduate!

February 2009:  Thomas meets Moira Madonia, a U.S. volunteer at the Kilimahewa Educational Center.  He serves as her interpreter for English classes for one month.  Tom has graduated from High School “A” levels, Form 6.  However, having attended a rural school with few resources, he did not pass the National Exam.  He does not qualify for university studies.  His family lives in soil huts and has one cow, 4 goats and 2 chickens.  His father uses a hoe to cultivate an acre on which a few banana trees grow. Tom has no way to attend further studies or gain employment. But he walks several miles each day to teach math to the teenagers at the community school with no pay. He also assists international volunteers who come to teach English.

Tom's mother giving thanks in 2009 for his sponsorship
Tom with his parents in 2010

November 26, 2013:  Thomas  proudly receives his Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Tumaini University, Moshi.

Sponsorship enabled Tom to re-enter higher education through a Certificate of Computer Science program at the Institute of Accountancy Arusha.  His own efforts yielded grades that gained him acceptance into a degree program at the Stefano Moshi Memorial University College (Tumaini).  Three years later, he can seek a professional IT job, degree in hand.

Hongera (Congratulations), Tom.  EdPowerment is so proud of you, your perseverance, and your dedication to serve others.  Thank you for continuing to teach math during all your breaks to our teens and thank you for leading our Kilimahewa Computer Training while you waited for your official degree papers.  We wish you many blessings as you forge your path ahead. 

The University graduate being introduced to the students at Kilimahewa  Community Center.
Students offer their congratulations.

Mama Grace, Rebecca, our head teacher, lead the party with a very special cake! 

Tom, you are a model to local youth who face similar obstacles.  You are why EdPowerment exists in Moshi, Tanzania.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013


If you had a child born with an intellectual disability that made him or her an outcast or pariah in society’s eyes, what would you do?  If there were no activism such as Autism Speaks, no differentiated special education, no early intervention, nothing, 
where would you turn?

This is the void that EdPowerment seeks to fill. These are the individuals whom we are trying to acknowledge, educate, encourage and strengthen.

On November 16th, ACT hosted its annual fall workshop – its 10th special needs event – at the Gabriella Children’s Rehabilitative Centre.  Over 80 teachers and parents overcame blistering heat to seek guidance and share experiences. Coming from a host of villages – Old Moshi, Sanya Ju, Marangu, Manyara, Mto Wa Mbu, Same, Mwanga and even Arusha, they demonstrated EdPowerment’s widening reach.

Beginning at 9:30, the meeting did not break up until 4:30. Facilitators from KCMC (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center), BCC (Building a Caring Community) and Muccobs Ushirika University led discussions on the emotional and societal pressures of caring for youth with autism and other disabilities.  Speakers explained the concept and importance of parental or caregiver support groups. They offered advice on how to organize these vital sources of sustenance.

Participants also sought help with how to mobilize support or intervention from local governments and authorities for hostility that often confronts disabled youth, including sexual abuse.  Speakers suggested strategies to work for rights in civil structures that themselves often ignore, or worse, abuse the disabled.

As hosts, Grace Lyimo, Brenda Shuma and Anthony Ephraim, wrapped up the meeting, attendees mobilized to carry out what they learned about forming support groups when they return to their villages.  Everyone agreed on follow-up procedures and eagerly suggested topics, speakers and guests for the Spring 2014 workshop.

Mama Grace and Brenda Shuma field questions at ACT's Workshop
Last Saturday, November 16, was another momentous day for EdPowerment’s work in Tanzania.  As increasingly occurs, things were happening on more than one front.  While we were channeling help for the disabled in one place, our first sponsored student was receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in another .  Our next post will share that joyous occasion.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


This Saturday, roughly 30 primary school (Standard 7) graduates came to Kilimahewa to complete the essay portion of their application for an EdPowerment Discovery Sponsorship.  This is the third year that EdPowerment has offered two scholarships to one female and one male outstanding primary school graduate with no financial – and often no parental – support.   This year we asked the students to write about the importance of water to their family, community and country.  They write two essays, one in Kiswahili and one in English.  This process helps us to evaluate their thinking and their command of English.

Every student last Saturday was dreaming about a Discovery Scholarship. EdPowerment commits not just to secondary school, but to sponsorship as far as the student can progress educationally – until he or she is ready to begin a career.  We know that a simple secondary school sponsorship for the poorest of students means little unless they can continue to A level, vocational or university studies.  This commitment can last 9 years: Secondary School (O levels or Form 1 – 4), High School (A levels or Form 5 – 6), and university studies up to 3 years.  The total cost of such as commitment can range from $5,000 for secondary boarding school alone to $20,000 for an entire ride through university.

Look at these young people as they struggle to write about water - and then think of them as businesspeople, computer specialists, teachers, lawyers and other professionals. This is the dream that an EdPowerment sponsorship transforms into a reality.

Monday, November 4, 2013


For EdPowerment’s Form 4 students – and all Tanzanian Form 4 students – today and the next two weeks will largely determine their future educational and career possibilities.  Today begins Form 4 National Exams, tests that culminate Secondary “O Level” School and provide the basis for placement in any further higher learning programs.
EdPowerment's Notre Dame graduates

EdPowerment's Mrike Secondary School graduates
Interestingly, this is also the week that many U.S. students submit their applications for early action and early admission to colleges.  Consider, if you will, the differences between the Tanzanian and American experience.  In America, the college application process has become an increasingly demanding and nerve-wracking one.  School records, extra-curricular activities, leadership potential, essays, recommendations and of course, standardized tests, all weigh into the eventual college acceptance or rejection.  While this college chase has become more onerous in an increasingly competitive environment, I don’t think anyone would trade it for the reality that confronts the Tanzanian Form 4 student.

In Tanzania, there is no application to individual colleges.  There is only one series of tests on a combination of subjects.  Make or break. All or nothing. One and done. One shot.  Next spring, students will go online (for our students this means a trip to the local internet cafe) where they will learn their score…. and a month or so later, they will learn to which school they are posted – if they passed the test with a satisfactory score. This past year, over 60% of Tanzanian Form 4 students failed the test, leading to a "re-grading" several weeks later.

So today, we send our best wishes, our prayers, “light and love” to all those who have struggled to learn in an educational system fraught with obstacles.  May they be able to summon their knowledge and skills and maintain their composure in order to produce scores that will allow them to continue on a path to independent lives of fulfillment and dignity.