EVERY LITTLE HELPS

Tanzania 2015 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | FOCUS: PROJECT TEMBO

While a large number of charities operate across East Africa, TEMBO stands out in its mission to empower micro business owners and get more girls into school.

TEMBO, or the Tanzania Education and Micro-Business Opportunity, is a Canadian charity with a focus on getting more girls and women into education and business.

TEMBO was founded in the early 2000s following visits to Tanzania by founders Jo Marchant and Marian Roks, who had developed links to the country following the sponsorship of a young girl in Kimokouwa village in 1998, and subsequent visits to meet community leaders, teachers, and residents in Longido and Kimokouwa. TEMBO was, thus, the formalization of a commitment to the people there, with Project TEMBO then launched to raise money and provide sponsorship for girls and women to attend school and grow their micro business, and the TEMBO Trust established to carry out Project TEMBO's mandate.

But the charity goes beyond education, with money having been raised to fund microbusinesses in Longido. Projects so far have included raising goats, chickens, and selling eggs, as well as the production and marketing of handicrafts. Over in Kimokouwa, however, where there is a strong Maasai culture, the lack of marketplaces for buying and selling goods means funds have instead been used to help locals raise goats for milk and meat. Outside the formal sector, Project TEMBO has also committed funds for a community library in Longido, as well as the Longido Learning Centre, which is set to house the library and run other educational programs. Never at rest, TEMBO English Camp runs during school holidays to help schoolgirls with their language skills in preparation for success at school. Project TEMBO is run exclusively by volunteers and governed by a Board, also composed of volunteers.

And TEMBO's impact is palpable. Every January, a local Parents Committee considers requests made for sponsorship of girls living in Longido and Kimokouwa. In 2014, Canadian donors sponsored 69 girls across 10 secondary schools, with the majority of TEMBO girls attending government schools and a number attending private schools. There are a number of reasons why some girls must attend private schools, such as failing to pass the national exam and also due to pregnancy. In such instances, which can be common in the Maasai culture, TEMBO encourages these girls to return to school after childbirth. And as they must then attend private school, with fees sometimes as high as $1,000 per year, a helping hand from TEMBO can go a long way. And for those who, for various reasons, leave school at the primary or secondary level without graduating, TEMBO also runs a sponsorship program to send such girls to vocational schools, where they can study subjects ranging from hotel management to community development and tailoring. In 2014, four young women are also training to become teachers through TEMBO, with graduates in this area often finding work in rural areas.

And for the village women, TEMBO's support for microbusiness can be a godsend. In 2010, 70 women in Longido received second and third loans of $300 each, while another 30 received first loans of $150. Businesses include a canteen, the selling of local beverages, a pharmacy, chickens and eggs, vegetables, used clothes, and more. Over in Kimokouwa, however, the Maasai culture means microfinance is an alien concept. And so, TEMBO provides training instead, in areas such as bead making.

Despite having a small reach, TEMBO is the perfect example of how charity should be done. By empowering women and girls through education and business, it is offering up the opportunity for a brighter future.