Thursday, December 11, 2014


This week the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winners accepted their prizes. One, 17 years old and female, and the other, 60 and male, champion the same cause: the human right of children to an education.

In Malala's words: 
“(The Nobel Prize) is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change... I'm here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice... It is not time to pity them. It is not time to pity them. It is time to take action, so it becomes the last time ... that we see a child deprived of education."

In Mr. Satyarthi's words:  
“I have come here to share the voices and dreams of our children, because they are all our children... We live in an age of rapid globalization... We are connected through high-speed Internet. We exchange goods and services in one single global market. Thousands of flights every day connect us to every corner of the globe.  But there is one serious disconnect. It is the lack of compassion...Let us globalize compassion.”

EdPowerment's Directors are often asked to explain - or defend - why we serve those in Tanzania, rather than the U.S.  The answer is what Mr. Satyarthi called global compassion: 
  • The youth we serve have been excluded from public education at the age of 13.  There is no school for them to attend.
  • The youth we serve live without running water, heat, electricity and sometimes food.  They cannot study at night and they cannot do anything productive during the day.
  • The youth we serve have no toilets, beds, closets, or other basics of advanced societies.
  • The youth we serve cannot get a job to help themselves- not even a low paying restaurant or retail job. They have no work opportunities.
  • The youth we serve cannot go to a public library to read a book or access a computer.  Most have never touched a computer.  Most attended primary schools with few or no teachers to teach basic reading and math.

This is global compassion.  This is why we work with discarded teens in one set of villages in Tanzania.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Year-end is the usual time for taking stock.  And so it is for EdPowerment. This year, in addition to focusing on our students and our work for the intellectually disabled, we also want to consider and share our collateral impact.

EdPowerment supports a staff of 7 full or part time Tanzanians at the Kilimahewa Educational Centre.  The salaries of each of these individuals have exponential meaning to them, their families (often extended) and even their communities.

  • Both female staff members (our head mistress and our cook) shoulder the responsibility of their children.  Their incomes provide food, childcare and schooling where there would otherwise be hunger and dejection. Instead of depending on other family members to help them get by, they support themselves and even help others.  Our headmistress, for example, has taken responsibility for one of our sponsored students for several years now.  
    Rebecca learning how to use teaching aids from Kerri and Jillian
    Rebecca teaching English
             Mama Asha (Neema) at our outdoor kitchen (jiko)
    Students enjoying her makande
  • Our chicken project and crop production manager is actually the father of one of our sponsored students.  For many years he ran a vegetable and sundries stand at a well located corner outside of Moshi.  A capricious government order earlier this year determined to clean up these stalls - although his stall was always well maintained.  In a sweep, his stall was destroyed and all its inventory taken.  He was crushed.  He now can once again provide for his family with dignity.  He is a real asset to Kilimahewa because of his loyalty and work ethic.
  • Our water project guard, who struggles with his own destructive habits and his wife's mental illness, now contributes in a positive way to his family.
  • Two of Kilimahewa's other teachers are exceptional young men.  One, who also works at a nearby private school, has been able to achieve real financial security for his family because of his extra income.  He also offers our students the perspective of an experienced teacher who knows how to coach a class on test-taking, study habits and critical thinking.  Our science teacher has an enthusiasm and willingness to learn that is contagious in his classrooms. In a country of unemployed college students, EdPowerment is offering a promising future to this promising young man.
    Godlisten in the foreground demonstrating how to solve a problem to our students.
In addition to these valued staff members, EdPowerment employs our older sponsored students during breaks between secondary school, high school and university studies.  Instead of continuing as dependents on families who cannot feed and clothe them, these young adults make a small salary and begin to learn how to use - and how to save money, a skill mostly lacking in Tanzania.  While teaching their younger counterparts, our sponsored student leaders learn how to organize and present themselves as professionals.

EdPowerment's impact transcends its direct educational programs, long-term sponsorships and workshops for special needs populations.  WE OFFER CRITICAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES TO HARD-WORKING INDIVIDUALS IN A COUNTRY MARKED BY UNEMPLOYMENT AND WASTED TALENT. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


EdPowerment is all about girls’ rights to education and employment.  However, the reality is that acceptance of young women as equal citizens requires the education – and re-education – of young men. Women and men must move forward in society together.

EdPowerment sponsors girls and boys to a local vocational school.

Today in the Kilimanjaro area where EdPowerment operates, Secondary School options for girls can outnumber the options for boys. (High School options for both are lacking)  This situation is disastrous for a progressive society.  And this is why EdPowerment supports boys struggling to become productive men, as well as girls struggling to determine their own futures. 

Male and female teenagers join together in our life-skills workshops

Boys need to be motivated to succeed as human beings, as income-producers and as models for their children.  In agricultural areas, too many follow the paths of their fathers, resorting to local brew and truancy to fill days absent of ambition.  EdPowerment deplores this situation. Where we sense ambition and capability in a young man who has been relegated to the sidelines when he should be in the game, we offer a path of learning.  We work with him, guide him… and re-educate him about what is possible in life. 

Today, Tom, Ally, Florian, and Deus lead our sponsored boys while Innocent, Jackson and Deo lead our Kilimahewa students.  One day in the not too distant future, all of them will demonstrate a better way to be a man, worker, community leader and father.

No longer at home.  Ally will one day serve his community as a health provider.

Donations to EdPowerment are a direct way to enable the education and employment of a young man or woman.  Email us to ask for any further information or clarification or to direct a donation toward your specific interest.

Monday, November 3, 2014


This fall Rotary International awarded the Rotary Club of Moshi a $53,000 Global Grant to develop a skills program under EdPowerment’s supervision at the Kilimahewa Educational Centre.   Today, the program’s first stages are underway! Under the guidance of EdPowerment Director, Kerri Elliott, a pairing of Internet and farming best practice instruction in going to change lives in the villages of Kilimahewa.

Kerri joins community representatives attending the Rotary Club of Moshi meeting
What does the Global/Local Skills Program entail? 

The Kiimahewa Centre’s talented staff will continue to teach a core of academic subjects to local teens shut out of government schools. But now, Internet access, powered by an upgraded and solar powered electrical grid, will allow so much more.  Students can attend intensive English and math fundamentals classes – and then tap free learning sites after learning how to use, communicate and seek opportunities on the web. 

Village adults can join their children in the learning process through special adult education classes.  The world beyond Kilimahewa will be within their reach.  These “peasants” can begin to overcome the isolation that takes away their ambition and robs them of a belief that they can improve the lives of their children.

There’s more…  

The Global Grant is just not about bringing in the outside world.  It also expands Kilimahewa’s existing chicken project in order to teach skills that will help area farmers build real, sustainable businesses. Today, too many local mamas fend for their families by tending to a few “local” chickens and carrying meager baskets of vegetables to sell at corners.  Teens will learn how to move beyond this existence by raising healthy chickens and crops, monitoring costs, seeking markets and sustaining production.

The Global/Local Skills project is ambitious.  It is an innovative, practical way to serve this population – and it includes the community in its planning.  Every month a community group made up of parents, teachers, and village leaders meets to discuss the programs, their progress and the best way to move forward and reach their own society.

EdPowerment Country Director and Kilimahewa Coordinator, Grace Lyimo, and community representatives share thoughts at the Rotary Club Meeting

The ability to attend quality courses locally is invaluable to villagers with only their feet for transport.  As teens and adults join classes and use an Internet facility within walking distance of their soil and cement homes, the Centre strives to become more independently sustainable. 

EdPowerment is excited to share this news!  We are energized to guide this transition as we continue to fund the staff and operational costs of an educational haven for those the world has left behind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


This is what was stamped on the loan application denial recently received by the newest member of EdPowerment’s Tomorrow Scholar-Leader Sponsorship Program.  I want to share a little of her history.

Mary’s story resembles that of many of Tanzania’s discarded youth. Her father left her family while she was young and her mother provides for the family by selling vegetables in the local market.  They live in a small, dark, concrete rented room.  Mary, however, stood out from her peers in her ability, seriousness and motivation.

Noting her special character, another small educationally oriented NGO, the Rau Foundation, paid for Mary to attend an excellent private boarding secondary school in her village.  Mary’s score on the National Form 4 exam (given at the end of secondary school) qualified her for a government posting to an “A” level school, Forms 5 and 6, sometimes referred to as high school. Rau’s founder once again funded Mary’s education.  This year, Mary not only graduated from A level studies, but she scored an impressive Division II on the Tanzanian Form 6 National Exam - a score that earned her a University posting!

BUT NOW WHAT?  Mary has no way to pay for college.  Further, there is such a dearth of employment for young people in Tanzania that the idea of working one’s way through college is a myth.  So the only recourse for Mary – and all of Tanzania’s poorest but talented youth – is to obtain a government loan and somehow scrape together the rest.

Without going into the complex, muddled, and frustrating loan system, the bottom line is that Mary received her response a few weeks ago from Tanzania's Higher Education Students Loan Board:  DENIED:  BUDGET EXHAUSTED. 

How can such a hard-working, capable and promising young woman be returned to her mother’s cement room with little or no hope of further advancement after achieving such fine results from Form 1 through Form 6?

EdPowerment welcomes Mary into our sponsored student family.  For the next 3 years, we commit to providing all necessary tuition, fees and personal support so that she can become a professional (she is taking a degree in accountancy) … and build a productive life for herself, her family and her community.  

Donor support of EdPowerment’s Sponsorship Programs allows our students to GO ALL THE WAY.  Otherwise, secondary and high school degrees can be disheartening, and tragic dead ends – for the student, the community and the country. 

Pictured here are some of our students working with a Kilimahewa teacher during their break in between semesters... And some of the supplies we send off with our students each semester - just the basics, but everything they need to succeed.

Friday, August 29, 2014


We are limited.

Because EdPowerment’s Tomorrow’s Scholar-Leader sponsorships commit to funding students from Form 1 through the highest level of education that they can achieve, we are limited in how many students we can accept. 

Our sponsorship family now totals 35: 18 Secondary School (Form 1 – 4) students; 7 High School (Form 5 – 6) students, 3 University Certificate students; 5 Vocational students; 1 University Law student and 1 University Medical student.  Because of the rising costs of university studies and the problematic government higher-education loan process, EdPowerment  now must say “No”  more than ever to so many deserving young people.  Our Discovery Sponsorship Contest that accepts one new female and male Form 1 student each year is being suspended for two years.

But sometimes, we have to say “Yes.”

This summer two students wrote compelling letters (shown here with edits for length and privacy) and came in person to plead for our help – not to begin secondary school – but to be able to continue secondary and higher education, having already proven their motivation and academic strength.

The first student, Joseph, was being turned away from his school because his parents could no longer pay fees.  This is the norm in many Tanzanian schools - private and public.  In Joseph's case, despite a disadvantaged primary education, his high grades had earned him a strong ranking in his class - still he would not be able to continue.  His recourse?  To go back home.  SEE PART OF HIS LETTER ABOVE.

The second student, Deus, scored highly on the Form 4 National Exam at the end of Secondary School, earning him a posting to a reputable High School.  But he couldn't go.  He too no longer had financial means – government high schools are not free in Tanzania.  His recourse? To go back home.

Both young men learned of EdPowerment through fellow students.  Both brought letters to us, followed up with phone calls, and one even showed up at our Enrichment Camp to demonstrate first-hand what he could do.  This initiative, along with their stories (which we fully vetted by visiting their homes and checking with school authorities) was overwhelming.

And so our EdPowerment sponsored student family now totals 37!

Please try to enlarge your viewing screen if necessary to read their letters - the best we could do !