Wait... First go to your sink and pour a glass of fresh clean water to drink... then come back and watch this short video.
Wait... First go to your sink and pour a glass of fresh clean water to drink... then come back and watch this short video.

African Empowerment Project is committed to implementing and nurturing community run development projects focused on creating opportunities for income generation, achieving access to quality education, and improving health and wellbeing, in order to empower the people of Africa to build a sustainable life for themselves and future generations.

How YOU can help!

Please visit our website at www.africanempowermentproject.org to learn more about who we are and how we are empowering the people in the village of Mnang'ole, Tanzania to pull themselves out of poverty.

You can make clean, accessible water and safe, healthy lighting a reality for the people of Mnang'ole by clicking below:
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IRS EIN # 27-1519070

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Finishing up my work here..

After lantern distribution and education around solar energy and clean water practices, and the pilot composting program. My remaining goals were to get photo and video documentation of each person in the village and of the solar lanterns in use as well as more water collection video and photos. Because most families leave for the farm in the morning and return late afternoon my window of time to take photos was around 4 pm to 6 pm each day. Unfortunately this was the same time as the adult English class so it limited the number of times I could attend the class. So late afternoon we headed out to gather as many pictures as possible and early evening capture photos of how the lanterns were being used. I made the trek to the water source only 2 times but enough to gather more photos and video! In the end I was pleased with what we accomplished... And surprisingly the people were just as pleased... As it turns out they LOVE to have their pictures taken and even more... They love to view their picture.  This next realization took me by surprise and gave me an even deeper perspective into the lives of my people… You see most of these people do not own even a mirror so they have never seen themselves... Really… Such a foreign concept that took me a while to wrap my head around... This made the process of taking a photo and showing it to them through the tiny LCD screen on my camera... So gratifying for me! To see an 80 year old woman look at her clothes and then at the picture on the camera, and look back and forth a few times to be sure it was really her in the photo... honestly.... that was one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences ever!

Other fun experiences:
One day my team and I ventured to Luvu beach, an hour walk from Mnang'ole. We spent the day there enjoying the Indian Ocean. We purchased fish from a fisherman who had just brought in his catch of the day… and we asked a women in the village of Luvu to cook it for us... for 500 shillings... (or 35 cents) she cooked up lunch for us!!! Children gathered as we sat under a 'banda' (covered, self-contained little patio) eating our fish... so curious about the mzungu in their village... Most have never seen white skin other than last year when I made a visit to this relaxed ocean village... to swim...

Another day we walked an hour to Saidi's farm so that Jess and Rachel could see what they grow and experience the farms of Mnang'ole. We watched in awe as Zambda so methodically, and efficiently removed the pods from the beans and lentils. We asked to purchase some lentils and beans and kasava… But they insisted that it be a gift from them to us... that night we had a great dinner… fresh from the farm!

One of the last nights we were there, a man who was partially blind came to get his lantern, as he wasn't at the distribution a few weeks back. When I handed him his lantern, he joyfully began to dance around singing 'Dada Beth gave me a lantern!!! Thank God she came to our village... this is now her home...she is one of us… she us no longer mzungu!!!'  One of the highlights of my weeks in Mnang'ole!

The last day in Mnang'ole I learned that...Apparently a government auditor came to inspect and observe the school recently and found some issues with the way they are teaching so they have developed a plan of action to remedy the problems... I wish I knew more about this ... But there was no time to get the information.  Hope to learn more about this in the coming months.

Jess and Rachel and I began distributing some of our clothing and items we knew would be useful to the people in the village. The greatest moment was when I brought my sunglasses, to Rashidis's wife...as the sun bothers her eyes. I also gave her a pair of sandals... She was soooooo grateful!! Kissing my hand 100 times... She was telling her blind husband what I had given her and then put the sun glasses on him and told him how wonderfully handsome he looked in them!! They both enjoyed this moment so much... Laughing and thanking me over and over again! Then to top it off ... Early that evening Salim called to me to tell me I had a visitor. There I'm my back yard was Rashidi's wife... Dressed in her best clothes... Dancing around with joy, rocking her new sunglasses and sandals as if she had just come from a shopping spree on 5th Ave. What a heart warming and joyful moment for us both as I joined her in dance!

The last night we invited Saidi and his wives and families for a big feast of fish, rice, pasta, sauce and papaya... There were 19 of us all together... What a feast we had in the back yard! Bibi, his second wife's mama, was saving some of her food from her piled high plate... When asked if she would take her leftovers with her ... This tiny frail woman said.... "Of course...I will eat it when I wake up… I haven't ever had so much food… If I ate like this every day I wouldn't fit through that door." Pointing to the 3-foot opening in the back fence! What an amazing time of sharing food and laughter together! Following dinner we lounged around on the straw mats in the back yard enjoying the simple presence of each other... Good friends with lives, language and homes a world apart from each other! This scene replays in my memory, bringing a feeling of peace and hopefulness to my heart and mind!

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