Lightness’s Women’s Projects

in Lake Eyasi, Tanzania

Imagine yourself dancing alongside local tribal women to a deep, resonating drumbeat until sweat is pouring off you. These are the same women you have sat with on the tarp to pick out pieces of rice, stirred porridge over the fire, held their babies and sat in their smoky mud and wattle houses. The women encourage you to jump alongside with them in the dance steps. Finally, you need to sit down.

In February 2019 9 of us spent almost 2 weeks with Lightness and her projects. We painted the walls and dug foundations for 2 houses, 8 outhouses and one shop to replace the fallen, mud hut, these single women of 4 to 6 children live in. It is not really possible I think to understand what these houses mean to these mom’s.

Lightness Women's Project

Lightness

Lightness

The lead point of contact in the dusty, remote area of Tanzania is Lightness, a dedicated woman who came from a fatherless home in this region. Her husband is Mr. Bayo, the founder of Tumaini Primary school, which JOS has supported for years.

Lightness’s heart ached to assist her people, so she started a vocational training center for these young mothers. Unemployment can exceed 70% for women in this area. They knit and sew school uniforms for the community as a way to support themselves. Earning income is a powerful way to get control of their lives. It is for these women that we will be building homes. Lightness is a longtime friend of JOS and is a woman of great vision. Providing housing for these women will improve their life and livelihood, bringing sustenance and safety into their lives.

As often happens, once you get involved in a community, you see need everywhere. As such, Lightness has built a medical clinic in addition to the school, started a honey business run by young women, began a micro loan project, and worked to bring computers to the students. We are involved in many of these projects. A group of us are traveling to Lake Eyasi in May, 2018 to work with the women to further the efforts. If you would like to be part of this amazing experience in the future, please contact board member Rick French at info@packpaddleski.com.

Here are the projects we currently need your help to support:

How You Can Help

Well Drilling

Well Drilling-Water is Life!

We are drilling a well to supply water to the village.  This will not only supply water for drinking but will enable the people there to use water for a garden to grow food, maybe enough to sell.  We tried a water tank in 2018 for a supply line. That water dried up. It is a 45 min walk one way to water. The well is literally life giving. Water is used for construction for example. At the moment it has to be bought and brought in a on 3 wheel motorcycle from 5 miles away.  Expensive and challenging. The survey was completed in February 2019 while we there there and we met with the drillers. The well may need to be 450 feet deep. With a tower, holding tank and pump the estimate is about $35,000. Steep but necessary. This is our big push as the need is so huge in 2020.  

Housebuilding

Housebuilding

The goal is to build one house and outhouse in 2020. Each house will have 3 small rooms. The total cost is $10,500. It is an expensive area to build in as most of the supplies have to be transported to the site, which is a high cost in Tanzania. We’ll be helping to build when we visit in February.

For a $100 donation, the name of your choice will be placed on a brick in the wall of the home and you will be emailed a photo of that wall. It is a fantastic way to share solidarity with the women on the other side of the ocean.$1000 or more donation and we can put a name for you on an entire wall.

School

School

We have a fund to sponsor and help subsidize the girls in a private school Lightness started.  The numbers have been decreasing due to lack of funds. This is a critical need to maintain what has already started.  One example is Mary. We met Mary in 2016, in her mom’s mud hut, dirty, one set of clothing…She attended the sewing program for 2 years, sponsored by a Mary who met her in 2016.  When we showed up in 2019, we went to the village to visit Mary who had a shop of her own, was wearing a beautiful dress and made one for her sponsor. Amazing example of how education broke the poverty cycle in this case.

The needs continues for support of the school. Sponsorship is $2,000 per year per student.  In addition we are establishing and ongoing subsidy for girls who are not sponsored.

Micro Loan

MICRO LOANS

In 2018 when we were in Lake Eyasi we started a micro loan project.  $2000 was given to a group of 10 women. They used it to fund farming onions.  It will pay them all wages for the farming, plus a small profit. It will be the first time they are in control of their own economics.  It is given as a one time grant to cover the cost it takes to farm the onions which is about $1500 per acre including water, tractor, seedlings….

The women have 2 more teams waiting for funding.  The picked some beautiful names for their teams such as “Hope” and a word that means “The rising”  We are hoping to raise the next $4000 that will fund these teams.

Of this $2,000 in 2018, 10 loans were given. With interest the return of the loans 6 months later returned, about $2,250. There is a training team in place to train the women in business skills. We are increasing the capital available in 2020.

Duka

Duka – To Help Sustain Women

A Duka is a shop in Swahili.

Here is how it will help in Lightness’s own words.

“We supported these women by building their homes on their land. They are abandoned widows that have been living together with their children for a long time. They didn’t have any way to help themselves because of lack of money. After we built them their homes to provide them with a safe place to live, they asked for some kind of support to find a source of income, so they could continue their lives together. With this, they could not only sustain themselves, but also support their children and find them an education.

These requests have come from the 9 women we built houses for. 3 of them have requested to have one shop together, and the other 3 have requested a small local hotel. I believe these 2 businesses will help the entire community of this village, since there are no shops in the entire village. When villagers need to buy an item, they must walk 7km (one way) to another village to buy an item, and then 7km back to return home. These new shops would also unlock huge potential since the village is close to the main road, where people and students who are passing by will buy items like tea and other foods in the shop and hotel. This could provide a lasting business for the village and improve their quality of life.” – Lightness

So in 2019, we built a Duka so these ladies can support themselves.It has 3 shops, a tea shop, sewing shop and a store. It gives 9 women jobs. In 2020 we will continue to support this project.  We will then evaluate the success of this business before trying to assist with a hotel. (Hotel there means small room, outhouses, not a Holiday Inn)

Medical Center

Medical Center

In December 2017 the medical center opened. It provides basic medical care for the local people.  We have provided it with a variety of funds. In addition we have done remote clinics with it. It has a staff of about 10 round the clock.  We even had one of participant spend a night there. The support because of the expense is a challenge. We have created a fund to provide free medical care.  When we are there, we round up the women and children in the village and transport them. Part of the challenge is the local people don’t have the funds, $2.50 one way on a motorcycle to get there.   Leaving funds for basic supplies helps both the clinic and the local village. There is a need for a xray and ultra sound machine.

Latest Updates

Lightness Women’s Homes In Africa April 2017 Update

Imagine yourself dancing alongside local tribal women to a deep, resonating drumbeat until sweat is pouring off you. These are the same women you have sat with on the tarp to pick out pieces of rice, stirred porridge over the fire, held their babies and sat in their smoky mud and wattle houses. The women encourage you to jump alongside with them in the dance steps. Finally, you need to sit down. In February 8 of us spent almost 2 weeks with Lightness and her projects. We painted the walls and dug foundations for 3 houses to replace the fallen, mud hut, these single women of 4 to 6 children live in. It is not really possible I think to understand what these houses mean to these mom’s.

Lightness Women's Homes Update December '16

There was huge excitement 2 weeks ago in the small village near Lake Eyasi, Tanzania.  Several trucks loaded with bricks arrived and the first of hopefully many houses had their foundation laid. In February, 2017,  a group of 7 volunteers…