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.
Teresia’s children (a village woman we have supported through her challenges) were removed from their home because of her mental health and are now boarding at Tumaini Primary, a school in Karatu that we have been connected with for many years. Tuition and fees are $2,000/year foreach child. Total is $6,000/year for Paulo, Rehema, and Maria (sponsored).
We have also pledged scholarships for four girls at the Lake Eyasi Girls’ Vocational Training Center to help break the cycle of poverty for women. This is the school we helped to build and support through various projects. We wish to be able to sponsor more girls as this project is one of the most impactful on the lives of the people we are sponsoring. You can’t imagine the difference it makes – girls have been able to escape abuse, forced marriage, and a hopeless life of poverty. We have seen firsthand how the empowerment, confidence, and skills gained at school allow them to successfully support themselves and create a better life. $2,000 per student each year; students are in school for 2 years. The total for 2023 is $8,000.
We have committed to 2 more years of funding (in decreasing amounts) the teachers’ salaries at the girls’ vocational school in Lake Eyasi. At one point they had worked for three months without pay. No teachers mean no school, and if there is no school the girls stay in the cycle of poverty. This is very important as many students cannot pay or pay very little. Total for 2023: $13,400.
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, 2022 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 [email protected]
Here are the projects we currently need your help to support:
How You Can Help
Completed in ’22
The goal in 2022 is to build one house with solar and one outhouse. The home will have four small rooms. The total cost is $11,500. 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 2022.
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.
Total 2022 goal: $11,500
Completed in ’22
In 2022 many changes have occurred 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. A new classroom and kitchen were built. In addition, for ‘22 we need to continue the teacher’s salaries. This is very important to keep the teachers being paid and paid a reasonable salary. Head teachers only make $300/month as it is. We would like to add in salaries for two past students who need a job teaching now that they have graduated from college. In addition ideally we would like to sponsor 4 students at $2000 each.
Total ‘22 goal: $24,000
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).
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
Completed in ’21.
The new kitchen for preparing food for the school girls and the kindergarten kids has been completed. It replaced the old kitchen where food was cooked over a fire under a tin roof with no structure.
Completed in ’22
In ’22 we built a childcare center. This will allow children to be taken
care of so their parents can work. Without childcare the children often
are left alone to fend for themselves. It frees the parents to work for
much needed income.
Micro Loan Program
Medical Center & Access to Medical Care
Completed in ’21
The medical clinic was opened in December 2017. In ‘21 a new operating clinic was built. 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.
This was a very successful program in ‘21 resulting in greater and consistent care for the women. This included being able to send them out when they needed surgery. We would like to continue this care.
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.
In addition ‘21 saw mobile clinics as outreach. These clinics can see over 100 people a day that normally would not have care.
Total goal: $10,5000
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.