Two colleagues from Solar Communications, one of Restless Development’s corporate partners, recently visited our projects in Tanzania. Inspired by the change young women and girls are making to empower others and make change in their communities, Zaithwa Lumbe and Ceara Moloney wrote about their experiences.
Visiting Restless Development in Tanzania was an experience I will never forget. The group of staff we met in the Dar es Salaam office were amazing, warm and welcoming. Their passion and their determination are evident in everything that they do.
Though we only saw a fraction of the projects that the Restless team works on, we were left inspired and proud that Solar Communications is supporting a charity that is very much alive and making its presence felt in the lives of so many people in various communities in Tanzania.
Over the course of the week we saw four different projects: two in Dar es Salaam and two in Iringa. My only regret is that we couldn’t see more!
It made me realise how lazy and ungrateful I am living in a country filled with an almost endless pool of opportunities, yet I take that for granted. I saw young people working together in solidarity to bring about change in themselves and in their society.
Of all the projects, there was one project which inspired me the most Mwanamke Tunu –Women are Jewels – in Dar es Salaam.
The group is made up of young girls and is led by an inspirational young girl, Naima. Naima is one of the many national youth leaders trained by Restless Development who helps girls and women in the community to tackle the difficult issues they face daily such as gender-based violence and their sexual rights.
Many of the young girls told us how the project has empowered them as young women and how they can now make informed sexual health decisions.
The girls gather together and educate one another through plays and storytelling, which really bring their issues alive to the audience and help them find a voice. Their communities are still heavily influenced by tradition and patriarchy.
I was left very excited by what I saw at the youth inclusion project in Iringa. The group set up a village Saving and Loan Association which is run completely by young people in the community. Everyone pools their money together into a bank, they then continue to invest in the shares and the more they invest the more they can take out at the end of the year. The impact this new fund is having collectively on the community only multiplies this.
In the project we met a girl called Shanny, she secured a loan from the village saving and loan association and started her own shop which has proved to be so successful that she was able to pay back the loan earlier than the due date and now she is self-sufficient.
The group is filled with young, passionate women. I really hope they will go out in the world with optimism and a sense of purpose that tells them that nothing is impossible.
My wish is that these girls realise their dreams. I hope to go back one day and see that the group is even bigger and better.
Being given the opportunity to go to Tanzania with Restless Development was something I will always remember and be so grateful for. A lot of the issues faced by Restless and the young people they support I was not aware of, or at least not fully aware of the extent of the problems before this trip. Researching for my application genuinely made me emotional and so motivated to get involved with Restless.
We visited two projects in Dar es Salaam, one being Mwanamke Tunu – Women are Jewels. This is where we met Fatima, the group’s youth leader.
She supports the group of girls and boys in raising awareness in the community on family planning and gender-based violence. We also met Maria, a young girl who had been able to set up her own jewelry business with the support of Restless. This enabled her to support herself financially which is a big part of the struggle for the women that we met.
We then travelled down to Iringa where we visited the East Africa Youth Inclusion and Girls, Let’s Be Leaders projects. I was so impressed by the East Africa Youth Inclusion group. They each had their individual businesses and had also worked together to build a bean farm on some land borrowed from the Chairman’s brother.
Girls, Let’s Be Leaders project was the most inspiring to me. It was the project I was most excited about before the trip so it was amazing to be able to meet the girls. Rebecca, the youth leader of the project, supports the girls and helps improve their knowledge on sexual health, gender-based violence and leadership skills.
These young women had started their own business preparing fish caught from a nearby lake and taking them to the market to sell.
Giving young people the knowledge on their sexual rights, empowering them to start their own businesses and have their own independence was the thing that really stood out as a main priority with Restless.
After meeting the people involved in the work being carried out in Tanzania, I believe it is so important that we support them so that they can help as many young people as they can – not only in Tanzania but around the world.