Lightness’s Women’s Projects

in Lake Eyasi, Tanzania

Imagine yourself climbing out of a van after a long ride across the rural countryside of Tanzania… you are greeted by a deep, resonating, drum beat and dancing women.  The women excitedly shower you in confetti made of small leaves that smell of fresh herbs and embrace you, twice.  This is the greeting you will get each morning when you arrive to work with the women.  The women and children dance with you as you file out of the van, hold your hands, and smile.  Their joy is contagious.

These are the same women you will pain and plant with and sit with outside their shops in the shade after your morning worktime.  Here you will enjoy chai and mandazi (local donuts) as the children laugh and play with you.  You can enjoy watching the seamstresses sew beautiful brightly colored orange skirts for the school children and watch the area villagers come to fetch their water from the well the women manage.

In February 2020 a group of us spent almost 2 weeks with Lightness, helping her with her projects.  We painted two new homes, planted many fruit trees, listened to their stories, and enjoyed many celebrations of the new well and newly open shops.  The homes replaced mud huts and the fruit trees will now grow with the water from the well and provide nutritious food for the children.  In the afternoons we returned to the vocational school and medical center.  At the school we worked with the girls on computer skills, their English, learned our Swahili, and played netball outside (their preferred sport of the girls).  We helped during a free clinic at the medical center, which provides access to medical care for thousands of people in the rural countryside that have not seen doctors for many years.  We watched as the kindergarten students played on the swing set, slide, and monkey bars we helped to dig holes for and cement in place.  The kindergarten students filled each and every person with pure joy as they played, giggled, and loved to be held as well as to see their own faces in the “selfies” we took with them.

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 vocational school, started a honey business run by young women, began a micro loan project, worked to bring computers and internet to the school, opened a kindergarten for local children to have a safe place to spend their days, helped to organize and open three shops for the local women to have an income source, and coordinated a well to provide clean and safe water for the village of women and surrounding area. In 2019 Lightness also completed a beautiful lodge with bathrooms containing hot showers in each room and beautiful porches to look out at the rim of the crater on the horizon.  We were lucky enough to sleep and eat our meals at the Sonyari lodge as well as touched by the amazing local staff that took exquisite care of us.  Journey of Solutions has been involved in raising funds for and helping hands on with Lightness’s projects over the years.  Another group of us are traveling to Lake Eyasi in February, 2021 to work with women to further these efforts.  If you would like to be a 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

Housebuilding

Housebuilding

The goal in 2021 is to build one house and one outhouse.  The home will have 4 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 will be helping to paint and furnish the home when we visit in February 2021.

For a $100 donation, the name of your choice will be placed on the outside wall of the home and you will be emailed a photo.  This is a fantastic way to share solidarity with the women on the other side of the world.  For a donation of $1,000 or more we will put just your name on one wall of the home.

There is no electricity or light in the village.  At night it becomes very dark and the women cannot see in their homes.  At the equator it is dark for 12-hours a day year around.  In 2021 we hope to install solar powered lights on all the houses, the total cost is $5,000.

Total 2021 goal: $15,500

School

School

In 2020 many changes are occurring at the vocational school.  Lightness has built, added, and staffed a kindergarten to create a safe place for area children to get an early education while their parents are working.  We have sourced and delivered computers for all the girls at the vocational school, internet is installed and operational for a pilot distance education opportunity, and a projector was purchased.

Scholarships

We have a fund to sponsor and help subsidize education for the girls attending the vocational school Lightness started.  Due to lack of funds the number of girls attending the school has been decreasing.  It is critical to continue to sponsor the education of girls to maintain what is built.  There are many success stories of young women, who came from complete poverty and unsafe home environments and have become successful business owners after completing their 2-year education here.  It is $2,000 per year to sponsor a girl. (This includes all costs of education, boarding, and food).

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Teacher Salaries

The salaries of the teachers have been a challenge to pay in 2019.  It is crucial that we keep paying the amazing staff at the school a livable wage.  By sponsoring the teachers salaries for 2-years they can focus on educating the current students and spending time reaching out to surrounding communities to help build the student population to a number that can sustain the schools budget.  The total expense to pay the 5 staff members is $16,000 per year.

Kitchen and Food

Currently the food for the school girls and the kindergarten kids is cooked over a fire under a tin roof with no structure.  This greatly limits what can be cooked, as there is also no place for any food storage.  In 2020 we will build a kitchen to store and cook healthy food for the girls who live and learn at the school. The kitchen cost is $10,000

Total school goal: $26,000 + scholarships

Micro Loan Program

MICRO LOANS

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….
 
More women are waiting for funding in 2021.  The $2,000 microloan will fund a group of women to start a farming project that will allow them to have income. There is a training team in place to train the women in business skills.
Total goal: $2,000

Medical Center & Access to Medical Care

Medical Center

The medical clinic was opened in December 2017.  The clinic is special as it provides low-cost and no-cost medical care to local people in an area of approximately 40,000 people.  The clinic is staffed by 2 doctors, 2 nurses, 2 lab technicians, and an accounting manager.  The clinic is open 24-hours a day and can provide testing, wound-care, labor & delivery services, birth-control, medications, and much more.  We have helped to raise the funds for many of the things needed to keep the clinic operational and add new services.

In 2020 during our visit we helped to offer two-days of “free clinic” and transportation to many patients in the surrounding rural area.  We transported over 30 women from the Lake Eyasi women’s village to the clinic.  There they saw doctors, had testing, and got medications.  This was a huge success in getting many women and children to access medical care and potentially saved lives.  The cost of the full medical care that day for the women of the village that day was $500.

During the clinic four of the women from the village were found to have cancer.  The cancer will be removed surgically in a bigger city.  But getting the women to the hospital over 2-hours away is a real challenge.  We have contracted a gynecologist from the city to travel to the village and treat the women each month for the next year.  The cost of this is $150/month.

It is anticipated that the full-medical care for the women and children of the Lake Eyasi women’s village will be $5,000 per year.  We are working to pay these costs and help assure access to doctors and medical treatment for the women and their children.

Total goal: $5,000

Well Drilling – Completed!

Well Drilling-Water is Life!

Thank you to everyone who donated and helped make this well a reality.  We are happy to report that the well is in and fully functional!

The well is supplying water clean water to the women of Lake Eyasi as well as at least 400 people in nearby villages.  The water is being used for drinking, cleaning, and watering the newly planted crops.

Duka – Completed!

Duka – To Help Sustain Women

A Duka is a shop in Swahili.

The shops are open for business!  The duka has benches out front, much needed shade, and is located next to the road and the water spigots from the new well.  The amount of traffic by foot, bike, motorbike, and car is significant.  The structure housing three shops was completed during the 2019 trip.  During the visit in 2020 we wer

e happy to see the 3-shops up and running.  The local women of the village manage, organize, and run the shops.  One shop offers small finger food and chai, the second shop operates as a local convenience shop selling small items of need and food, and the third is a sewing shop that sews clothes for local people as well as school uniforms (which are a requirement for all school children in Tanzania).  The women are keeping careful books and beginning to have a profit from their sales and hard work.

During our 2020 visit we also helped coordinate a pilot outdoor movie night at the duka.  This was a HUGE success bringing well over 100 people from the surrounding area, many excited children, popcorn, and business to the shops.  The first movie was “Jungle Book” translated into Swahili and the people loved it!  Hopefully they will continue this as a community building event and revenue stream for the shops.

Latest Updates

Lightness’s Women’s Projects, March Update

Updates from our February 2020 Visit  I wish each and every one of you could experience the joy we experienced over the last two weeks.  Our journey to Lake Eyasi in February 2020 was a very special one filled with much celebration. We…

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.