First Wells of 2017

          

The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived and it was a glorious day. We were able to open 2 new solar powered water wells at the schools in Kizomla and Kizapala in Mukaranga. We strategically place the water wells on school campuses because of the impact that schools have on the community. Most villages are centered around schools therefore it is truly a central location for everyone. Thanks to generous contributors from the United States, more than 9,000 people in 2 villages will have access to clean drinking water. This is the first time these villages have had clean and sustainable water sources. Because of a lack of resources, many people use any container they can to collect water, some which have mold or toxic chemicals in the plastic. Recognizing this as a problem, we were also able to provide each school child with a brand new clean 3.5 liter water can. Each child has access to the water wells during the school day and they are responsible for taking home 3.5 liters of water everyday for home use. Everyone has access to the water wells after school hours. The ARF team as well as the District Commissioner stressed to the villagers the importance of maintaining their new water wells and preserving them so the systems are long-lasting. It was such an honor and privilege to be able to provide clean water to people who have never had a drink of clean water, something that billions of people take for granted.

In the spirit of celebration, we were also able to give them women groups goats and school children chickens. ARF will be providing tools and guidance so they can breed these animals and create sustainable farming. Each woman is also responsible for providing the school with a bucket of manure each month from their goat so the schools can use the manure for farming. The systems we are creating are allowing the people of Mkuranga to create sustainable and lucrative lives for not only themselves, but for their communities. We look forward to coming back to check on the people of Kizapala and Kizomla very soon.

Farming Sustainability

Despite the rain delays, we arrived to the 2 school campuses, Kizomla Primary School and Kizapala Primary School where we would be opening the new solar wells the next day. We drew names to provide 20 students from each school to receive a chicken. The aim in giving chickens is for each child to multiply the number of chickens with them all sharing one rooster. This will help promote responsibility among the children charged with taking care of the chickens as well as leadership. Ultimately, the chickens will bring the village together as a community and demonstrate the importance of sharing and sustainability. The selected children were delighted about the chickens as they were not expecting to receive them.

 

We also met with 2 women groups which were formed amongst the women in these villages. We spoke with the women about empowering each other and working together to harvest crops to sale. Most of the women were already experienced farmers so they understand the basics. If they become experts at micr0-financing, they can create a better living for their families and village. Along with the cultivation of crops, through generous donors in the United States we were able to give female goats to the women’s groups as well. The women will all be responsible for caring for the goats and mating the female goats with the billy goat we also provided. The average goat gives birth to twin goats twice a year. This means every year one goat gives birth to 4 kids. Although it can be tricky introducing this system, we have seen positive results with the goat projects. Goats provide milk and the manure produced by the goats is beneficial to the women for farming.

GO after you GOALS

Here at Village Heart with education being our main focus, we see the importance of children having a well-rounded school experience. We are continuously raising awareness of the disparities in which children in underdeveloped countries are faced with. Despite their hardships, the children in Mkuranga District share a major common interest with the rest of the world, their love for sports. Through funds raised by Drilling for Hope, The Village Heart was able to accompany Karen Flewelling to deliver soccer uniforms and balls to the teams from Tumahini Primary School, Kitomondo Primary School, and Magoza Primary School. The students were very delighted as they were presented with their new uniforms in front of all of their peers. Sports are a healthy outlet for children to release the daily pressures they feel and also promotes the idea of teamwork and leadership. The boys promised us they would continue to train and improve their soccer skills. Later in the week we will be delivering soccer uniforms to more schools along with other items.

 

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you”- Arnold Palmer

Day One: Mkuranga

My first full day in Tanzania was great. The team traveled an hour and a half from the center of Dar Es Salaam to Mkamba Kizapara School in Mkuranga District. As stated in a previous post, the flushing of the well was completed a few days ago. Although it was a Saturday, the men were hard at work installing the solar panels on the new well. The lead engineer explained it takes roughly 1 1/2 weeks to install a solar well so they were right on schedule for completion. While there we ran into a couple of school teachers who lived nearby. Coincidentally they were on their way to collect water so we followed them to their current water source. Along the walk the women were explaining to us that even though they trek through the bushes to get to the shallow well, there is no guarantee that there will be water inside of the well to collect. They make the journey to the shallow well a couple times a day. After about 20 minutes of walking we reached the well. They showed us how to use the bucket to lower into the well to fetch the water. Although the water in the well was quite scarce, they were able to collect a bucket. The two women expressed their gratitude to African Reflections Foundation-The Village Heart, and Drilling for Hope for the new water well in the village. They never thought the village would receive such an amazing gift which will open up many opportunities. As teachers, they can directly see the impact the easy access to clean water will have on the students of Mkamba as well as everyone in the village. We will be returning to Mkuranga in a couple of days to open the well with everyone in the village. It will be an amazing celebration!!

After leaving this school we traveled about an hour to another school. One of our solar panel wells was installed before but needed repairs so we checked on the progress. After greeting the workers, we peaked into some of the classrooms. There of course were no AC’s and no glass on the windows. Inside of the concrete structures, the classrooms were quite dark. There were dozens of desks lined up with wooden benches as chairs. The chalkboards were old and broken but still had the math class work written from the previous day. The students were learning geometry and pre-calculus. Despite the teachers hard efforts to deliver the best lessons to the students, this is hindered by the lack of resources available for the students and children. On one of the walls were posted the students marks. Out of 40 students, the student with the highest average in the class has a total score of 38% out of 100%. Without the distractions that are associated with the lack of water, children would be able to focus better and devout more time and energy into their studies thus advancing the generation.

   

Visiting Tanzania

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Hi guys! I am excited to share that I am just a few hours from leaving to Dar Es Salam from Dubai. It has been almost 2 years since my last time in Tanzania so needless to say I am quite excited. My plan is to land, rest a bit then hit the ground running with site visits. This trip will allow me the opportunity to see the impact The Village Heart has had on the rural communities in the past, the opening new projects, and planning for future opportunities to help. While in Tanzania I will also be meeting with one our major sponsors, Karen Flewelling from Albany, New York. Karen has already been in Dar Es Salam for a few days now and has had a very busy few days checking on projects.

There will be exciting new day-to-day content over the next couple of weeks. So be sure to stay updated!

Out with the old, In with the new

 

The Village Heart is proud to announce that we have just completed the 2nd phase of a well instillation for the Mkamba Kizapara Primary School. The second phase, also known as the flushing stage occurs after drilling. In order to provide a clean water source it is necessary to flush the “top” dirty water, which is unsuitable for consumption. In the past, according to the headmaster of Mkamba Kizapara, students and staff were traveling 1.5-2 kilometers for water. The water they were collecting was not clean. With the new solar well on school grounds, everyone in the school and community will greatly benefit. The headmaster also expressed his future plans to build a garden at the school with various vegetables. They are very grateful and excited for the new well and the possibilities that come along with clean water.  

Left Behind: The Children

 

Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa with a total population of over 52 million people. Out of that 52 million, more than 23 million (44.2%) of people do not have access to clean drinking water. Over 44% of Tanzania’s population are youth, under the age of 15. Because of the scarcity of water sources, women and children are forced to travel for hours in search of water, and are typically left with no choice but to collect water from unclean water sources. Children, particularly girls, are forced to drop out of school because their time is devoted to providing for their families. Women and young girls run the risk of rape when traveling long distances in search of water.

Those who are able to attend school have such a passion for education that they trek miles to receive an education. Once they reach school, they are forced to learn in over crowded classrooms, with 100-200 students to each classroom. The buildings are poorly built and dilapidated. With 5-6 children to each desk, it makes it very difficult for children to focus and pay attention to their lessons which causes them to fall behind in their coursework. Worst case scenario, teachers are left with no option but to teach children outside, under trees. As if the over-crowding of classrooms and the lack of learning resources such as books, paper, writing instruments, desks, and chairs was not enough of a challenge, many of these children do not receive food or water for the entire day until after they reach home.

Women are unable to generate income to sustain a thriving household because their time is spent traveling daily for water to make sure their families do not die. Millions of women are at high-risk of infection and in many cases death due to the poor sanitation standards of clinics while giving birth. Thousands of people in rural areas die due to water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and malaria. All of these diseases can easily be avoided. Quality of life seriously depreciates when people are denied one of the most basic necessities of life, water.

With all of this being said, The Village Heart, under the umbrella of African Reflections Foundation is devoted to eradicating the hardships associated with water deprivation by providing clean water systems and enhancing the quality of education for children. Stay tuned as we shed light to the challenges millions of people face and how with the aid of The Village Heart we are able to empower women and children to overcome these problems and create sustainable change for future generations.

 

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.

-John Holmes