Greens Farms Academy in Westport, CT, hosted a “Harmony for the Homeless” this past winter, run by the school’s community service club. They raised funds that helped us to build out a computer lab at the Heaven English-Medium School in Tanzania. In the school library, Unite installed folding tables against the walls and purchased stools, six laptops and a projector & screen. The teachers are using the laptops to enhance their curriculums. We will share more news about the use of the computer lab in the coming weeks and months.
SUMMER IS COMING!!!
Unite The World With Africa Foundation has partnered with Swahili Coast Design to bring you a one-time offer of 10% off hand-crafted Maasai-beaded sandals and Kikoy beach wraps made in East Africa. This promotion will run through April 30th, 2019.
10% off coupon code: UNITE
50% of sales will be donated back to Unite to support our work to provide quality education, comprehensive care & leadership development programs to orphaned, impoverished and at-risk youth across Tanzania.
Swahili Coast is a North Carolina-based fair trade brand working in partnership with artisans in East Africa to handcraft sandals and accessories. Thier mission is to connect the incredible artistry and talents of East African Artisans to global markets using principles of fairness, dignity, and respect.
This month Unite engaged trainers from the Arusha-based NGO JobOrtunity to run a two-week-long customized life skills and personal development workshop at the St. Joseph's Orphans Center for seven of our secondary students and 10 of our university students who were home for holiday. The workshop included six modules taught mostly through experiential learning or "learning by doing." This was the first time any of these students have received any formal training of any kind, outside of the classroom. While many were a bit shy at first, eventually they stepped out of their comfort zones to seize this rare and unique opportunity to learn and grow. We are proud of them and will continue our work with JobOrtunity to provide our students with further trainings as possible over the months and years to come. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT.
On April 21, 2019, Darien High School then-junior Ellen Harnisch set up a table outside the school, hung her self-made signage, and asked her teammates and fellow students to donate new and lightly-used uniforms, balls, socks, jackets and more. With the support from the Darien Soccer Association and Darien High School soccer coaches Jon Bradley and Leigh Parsons, the response was tremendous. Ellen and her family organized the donated items into sizes and with Unite packed them into three barrels to be shipped with Amefricargo LLC from Connecticut to Tanzania. The barrels left the United States on a container ship in November 2018 and arrived in Dar Es Salaam and Arusha just last week. Thanks to Ellen (who will be attending and playing soccer for Emory University in the fall) and a handful of other donors, we have successfully delivered the following:
More than 35 deflated soccer balls, with pumps; 50 pairs of sports socks; dozens of pairs of sports sneakers; and more than 100 sports uniforms/jerseys to support the sports program at The Heaven School and for Future Stars Academy Football League in Arusha.
More than 1,000 books—readers & novels—(all donated by Better World Books) for The Heaven School Library, The St. Joseph’s Orphans Center and to Dr. Raymond Mgeni’s School Book Club Reading Program.
Last summer, artist and photographer Sydera Theobald spent a few months volunteering at the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center. One of her primary tasks was to take photos of the children and environment for Unite to share with our sponsors and existing and potential donors. She did a magnificent job and as you can see from the images below, she is very talented. To further support the children, on Sydera and her family recently hosted a fundraiser during which she auctioned off the framed prints below. Sydera successfully raised enough money to sponsor three of our youngest orphans at St. Joseph’s through 2020. We are deeply grateful to Sydera—not only for her sustained commitment to Unite and love for the children we serve—but also to all those who supported her extraordinary vision and effort (e.g. those who gave in support of printing and framing the images, securing the venue, providing food and drink, and so much more). TUKO PAMOJA. We go together. If you are interested in learning more about what volunteer opportunities exist through Unite, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Sydera and see more of her photography, email email@example.com. Asante! Thank you!
Unite recently awarded a $5,000 grant to Kivulini Hospital, run under Maternity Africa, in Arusha, Tanzania to fund the provision of quality pre- and post-natal care and safe deliveries for impoverished, at-risk teen mothers. Since the grant was awarded at the end of 2018 more than 53 girls have been served. In addition to receiving quality medical care, the teens have received targeted education programs during their time at the hospital to teach them about the importance of proper nutrition for themselves (the mothers), breastfeeding and immunizing their infants, and much more.
Most recently one of Unite’s Scholars Hosiana Thomas, a young Maasai single mother who has been sponsored by Unite to continue her studies in university focusing on community development, has joined the team at Maternity Africa/Kivulini Hospital as an outreach intern. Given her own experience as an unwed teen mother, Hosiana understands first-hand the challenges faced by young Maasai mamas and is working with the team at Maternity Africa to help inform their teen-support program, which is being designed now to provide further support and care for this most vulnerable population.
“Hosiana is a bright girl who can speak for herself,” says Maternity Africa Director Jude Holden. “Already she is assisting the outreach team in Maasailand seeking expectant mothers in need of care as well as women who are suffering from post-partum fistula.” Kivulini Hospital runs a fistula clinic a few times each year during which suffers are provided free surgeries to fix their fistulas and end their suffering and social ostracism.
We are thrilled to announce our plan for a new mural to be painted in the pre-school building at the Heaven School in Northern Tanzania. Along with Kristin Peterson Edwards of kpeArts, we are collaborating with Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Shinji Murakami and his gallery Catinca Tabacaru Gallery, which has a space on the Lower East Side in New York City, as well as at the CTG Collective in Harare, Zimbabwe. Murakami, whose career has exploded, is going to draft a site-specific design for this initial wall mural in the Heaven pre-school. Last year his pixelated hearts were temporarily installed on the roof of the Standard Hotel in NYC and he was commissioned by Salesforce, the US cloud-based software company, to create unique tile designs which have been installed on every floor throughout their San Francisco and NYC headquarters. The idea is for this installation to be educational, colorful and create a happy environment for the children—one with images of African animals, hearts, flowers, etc. We will also engage the children in creating this mural. What is special about Shinji’s work is the pixelation aspect of it allows the squares to filled in by anyone with a color-by-number method of painting. Once the design has been approved, we will have an on-site artist transfer the image onto the wall and then when our team is on site in April, we will have the children at St. Joseph’s Orphans Center (located on the same campus as Heaven School) help complete the painting. We also hope to create a simple coloring book for the youngest children of Heaven and St. Joseph’s, which will compliment the mural in their classroom. Stay tuned for our progress with the design and installation. We are truly excited about this project and the potential of additional murals at St. Joseph’s and across Tanzania.
In 2018 we launched our new UNITE SCHOLARS MENTOR program to provide additional support for our Unite Scholars who are now in university. Our team of trained and dedicated MENTORS are paired with our Scholars to help develop their creative & independent thinking as well as to teach them the essentials “soft skills” of professionalism necessary for success over time (e.g. effective oral and written communication skills, time management, presentation & personal branding, interpersonal skills, self confidence, how to interview and behave on the job, etc.). We believe in each and every one of our Unite Scholars and are committed to helping them maximize their potentials so that they may grow into leaders with the knowledge, talent, connections, and sustained commitment necessary to source solutions to challenges facing their communities and help shape the future of the African continent.
OUR Goal: TO Educate, mentor, empower and prepare
extraordinary Tanzanian youth to become global change agents.
Elements of the program include:
Ongoing communications and monthly meetings with their Mentors.
Working through our Unite Scholars Mentorship/Professional Development Curriculum as Mentor/Scholar pairs and in group settings.
Speaking series by with local professionals (experts in their fields).
Site visits to see and learn more about the work of local companies, hospitals, NGOs and businesses.
Meetings and networking opportunities with other scholars, mentors, international and local businesses and advisors.
Annual “Ted Talk Style” symposiums during which Scholars are invited to present about a topic of their choice to an international audiences.
Above: Mentor Rhoda Lugazia with Scholars Marystella Justine (business) and Winnifrida Gaspar (business); Advisor Anty Marche with Scholar Hosiana Thomas at the Tengeru Institute for Community Development; Mentor Dr. Raymond Mgeni with Godfrey Saitoti (medicine & surgery); Mentor Joan Mnzanva with Scholar Agnes Crispin (business); Mentor Joan Mnzanva with Scholar Simon Daniel (IT) and Scholar Genes Benedicte (Education); Mentor Dr. Raymond Mgeni with Scholar Jackson Daniel (medicine) and Scholar Douglas Fortunatus (Computer Engineering).
This holiday season why not give the gifts of hope, love, education, opportunity & joy?
$20: Purchase a mosquito net to help prevent malaria.
$35: Purchase a new holiday outfit for a child at the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center.
(Each child is allowed one new outfit a year.)
$50: Purchase a goat that will provide milk and meat.
$110: Sponsor the care of an expectant teen to have a safe vaginal delivery
at the Kivuluni Hospital.
$150: Buy uniforms, books & school supplies for a child for a year.
$200: Sponsor a year of “life skills & professional” mentoring support
for a Unite Scholar in University.
$250: Sponsor a Christmas celebratory meal for the 60+ members of
the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center family.
$340: Sponsor the care of an expectant teen to have a cesarean section
at the Kivuluni Hospital.
$375: Purchase a laptop for the new Heaven School Computer Lab
and/or for a Unite Scholar in university.
$400: Ship one 200lb barrel from the Unite States to Tanzania
filled with books & critical supplies.
$500: Sponsor a child from St. Joseph’s Orphans Center
to attend the Heaven Pre School.
$750: Sponsor a child from St. Joseph’s Orphans Center
to attend the Heaven Primary School.
$1,200: Sponsor a Unite Scholar to attend a quality
private secondary boarding school in Tanzania.
TO GIVE THE GIFT OF ANY OF THE ITEMS ABOVE AND RECEIVE A LETTER FROM UNITE (OR HAVE IT SENT DIRECTLY TO THE PERSON YOU ARE GIVING IN HONOR OF), CLICK DONATE.
We are held back not by the love we didn’t receive in the past,
but by the love we are not extending in the present.
I snapped this photograph above in October while driving through Mkuru, Maasailand, in Northern Tanzania. I include it here because to me it illustrates two of the most compelling stories of Africa: One that is told most often by the mainstream media, which is of the devastation caused by extreme poverty, ignorance and lack; and the other—the driving force behind Unite—which is of the “stupendous potential*” that can be found within youth everywhere, even in the unlikeliest of places and the most challenging of circumstances. Their potential is our opportunity.
Over the years while working to unlock and unleash the “stupendous potentials” of orphans and at-risk youth across Tanzania, I have witnessed time and time again how love, presence, hope and compassion can forever change the trajectory of lives. From “Baby Maria” who arrived at the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center as a severely malnourished and deformed two year old unable to walk or talk and who is now a smiling, healthy three-year old, running around chatting in Swahili and English, ready and eager to start Baby Class at Heaven School to Godfrey Daniel Saitoti who survived as a homeless street boy until he was 10 years old when Sister Crispina Mnate adopted him and enrolled him in school for the first time ever and who is now studying to be a surgeon at the Kampala International University in Uganda... the stories go on and on.
The youth we serve and those with whom we work know that with every privilege comes great responsibility and for their achievements all glory goes to God. Their big dreams are many and range from building an online e-library through which students in the remotest of villages can access books and lessons (Douglas) and working in medicine to care for the sick and destitute (Angela, Jackson & Godfrey) to pursuing careers in accounting and tax to encourage and enforce “ethical” business (Hilda, Lucy & Marystella) and opening “An African Knowledge Village” as a center of excellence for learning and knowledge sharing (Raymond). These youth have the commitment, determination, work ethic, resilience and faith—the potential—necessary for success. Our work is to free them from the chains of extreme poverty by meeting their basic human needs and providing them access to quality healthcare, education, strategic support programs and a global network. Most recently, we partnered with Future Stars Academy to roll out a physical education and sports program for the children of Heaven and lauched a Mentor Program to help our University Scholars prepare for their lives after graduation. As they grow and evolve, so do we.
As always, I am sincerely grateful to each of you for your interest in and support of Unite, and for your big dreams in service to humanity. The future depends on us. May we be fearless in extending our love!
With blessings and prayers for peace,
Anne Wells, Founder & Director, Unite The World With Africa Foundation * The New African Commentary
In the Western Serengeti district of Northern Tanzania, powerful human rights activist Rhobi Samwelly has created the non-profit organization Hope for Girls and Women (“Hope”) to protect girls from the ancient tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the endemic practices of child marriage and gender-based violence (GBV). Through HOPE, Rhobie has established a Safe House to which girls can run when it comes their time to be “cut” (the “cutting season” is held once a year in December during the school holidays). While FGM is illegal in the Tanzanian constitution, customary “law” often prevails in rural areas where mutilated girls command twice the bride price in cows as uncut girls, giving families not only a social incentive (cut girls are believed to be more “clean” and well behaved) but a financial one as well.
At HOPE’s Safe Houses, the girls receive food, lodging, vocational training and, if possible, an EDUCATION.
This is where Unite comes in. Our Foundation has granted funds to HOPE to secure books, uniforms and necessary school supplies for the girls to attend local primary and secondary schools, and in October 2018 our founder Anne Wells, board member Debbie Wiley, advisor Josephine Brunoski, RN, and friends of Unite Lisa Lawrence and Tyler Duer will visit Rhobie’s Hope Center in Mgumu to interview girls who have been screened as potential candidates for our rigorous Unite Scholars Program.
Rhobie’s work with HOPE has been recently featured in the award-winning documentary film The Name Of Your Daughter, directed by Canadian journalist and documentary filmmaker Giselle Portenier. The Name Of Your Daughter premiered to at the prestigious CPH:DOX documentary film festival in Copenhagen in March 2018. Since then the film, which features terrifying stories of girls as young as eight bleeding to death during the cutting season, has received the jury prize for Best Canadian Feature Documentary at NorthWestFest, won an Impact Docs Award of Excellence, and has received nominations for best editing and best original music score.
Rhobi, who is herself a survivor of FGM, writes about the film: “My dream is to save girls from being cut, and I will never stop until FGM is history in my community. This film is very very important because it will help raise awareness not just in our community, but in the district and even in other countries that are receiving African people who have the same tradition of cutting. It may help make our people change. It will also give our girls a voice, people will be able to hear the children, because they’ve never been heard before.” (www.inthenameofyourdaughterfilm.com).
“We are impressed with the courage, self-respect and life force of these young girls who have chosen to run for the lives towards an uncertain future and want to do all we can help empower them to achieve their dreams and become the leaders and change agents of tomorrow.”
~Anne Wells, Unite’s Founder & Director
We rise by lifting others.
I first landed in East Africa in 1991 as a 19-year-old student of wildlife management and almost instantaneously the beauty and vastness of the land and the kindness and generosity of the people rooted themselves deep within my heart. During the three years that followed spent traveling, living, studying and working in and out of Tanzania, life was filled with wonder, adventure, excitement and, at times, great challenge and severe discomfort. When things became unbearable, as they did more than once—due to the mere good fortune of where and to whom I was born—I could evacuate and access safe lodging; clean water and healthy food; quality healthcare... Those around me could not, and the injustice of that inequality has haunted me ever since.
Years later, in January 2008, while sitting with my husband David in our suburban Connecticut home watching our three daughters, then ages 2, 4 and 6, play, I surprised even myself when I said out loud: “It is time for me to go back Tanzania and find a way to be part of the solution.” With no clear plan besides a heartfelt calling to serve, David and I landed in Dar Es Salaam five months later. There we were met by our friend Father Dennis Mnyanyi who picked us up in a borrowed vehicle from his village, an ancient Izuzu belonging to the Bishop. For hours we bounced along over barely-there roads to reach Dennis’ home, a simple cement structure with a tin roof nestled in the forested foothills of the Uluguru Mountains. Along the way, groups of smiling barefoot children chased our car calling out “Mnzungu! Mzungu!” (White person! White person). This familiar chant followed David and me over the next few weeks (and throughout every visit since) as we traveled the country meeting with NGOs (non-government organizations), clergy and non-profit leaders; visiting schools, hospitals and development projects; and witnessing what extreme poverty, resilience, courage and hospitality looks like.
It was then that the vision for Unite was born. Shortly thereafter we launched Unite The World With Africa LLC, a social enterprise under which we operate our Unite Tours Service Safaris, partnering with local outfitters to combine personalized wildlife safaris with opportunities for travelers to discover, learn, share and serve in the field. Under the LLC we have also purchased and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of African product to drive job creation and security for artisans across East Africa and to redefine what ethical fashion looks like here in Ameria. For the first few years we searched for and partnered with existing NGOs who were doing transformative work (and could meet our strict reporting criteria) and drove donor support through them; however, the call to venture farther afield, deeper in the bush, to serve and empower those living in greatest need was too strong, so in 2014 we incorporated our 501c3 Unite The World With Africa Foundation.
According to professor of African political thought at Cornell University Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, Africa’s largest crisis today is not a lack of water or food but instead it is a lack of knowledge. In Tanzania alone, there are ~25 million children under the age of 16 (43% of the population) who are eager to learn and desperate to receive an education; however, few will get the opportunity. Unite’s current key programs all now focus on addressing this knowledge crisis by creating and providing access to high-quality education—pre-primary through university—international mentorship and comprehensive life skills programs to empower the growth of leaders who can and will become the positive change agents and thought leaders of tomorrow.
The flow of knowledge, of course, goes both ways. I personally have learned countless lessons working in and out of a culture so different than my own, where strangers are regularly welcomed to share last cups of tea, celebrate new life and honor the sick and dying; where there is no perceived need for speed; and where divine intervention is assumed, anticipated and even incorporated into life plans.
In Africa I have witnessed the enormity and complexity of human need and the fall out of good-yet-misguided intentions. I have felt the despair and loneliness of being met by cynicism, judgement and greed and the hope and joy of being met by open hearts and open minds. And I have learned that no matter how humble one’s circumstances, every human has a desire—and a right—to be seen, honored and validated. During a women’s meeting in rural Tanzania, each participant stepped forward to introduce herself... “I am Lightness. I have two children, and one rabbit.” “I am Sarah. I have five children and two goats.” “I am Mary. I have seven children and three cows.” A roar of applause followed each speaker who would then stand a bit taller, smile brightly and soak in the adoration. I think of these lovely women often when I am working with our sponsored children and am reminded me to slow down, be present, listen fully, validate even the smallest of accomplishments and say: “I see you. I hear you. You matter, and I love you.”
Years ago I traveled with Sister Crispina Mnate, director of the St. Joseph’s Orphans Center, to a boarding school to visit a few of her teenage boys who are sponsored by Unite. When the boys walked to meet us, I noticed their toes sticking through their worn and tattered shoes. Since the school required them to run ~5 miles every morning, I thought it would be nice to buy them each a new pair of sneakers and a new pair school shoes. Sister Crispina reprimanded me. “Anne Wells,” she said sternly. “No more than one pair each. You must never take away their struggle.” Time and time again, I have experienced the wisdom in these words: More is not always better and easy can undermine. With this in mind Unite is small and focused by design. We are “in it” for the long haul, working closely alongside those we serve with near daily communications, in-country support staff and regular site visits by myself and other Board Members and Advisors not only to protect our investment but to do all that is necessary to achieve our shared greater goal of breaking the complex and multifaceted chains of extreme poverty—one of the greatest threats to Planet Earth today.
I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you who has supported this work in any and all ways, big and small, over this past decade; to our team of Advisors for their time, generosity and expertise; to our Board of Directors for their remarkable commitment and for making it possible for 100% of every donor dollar to be allocated directly to our programs in Africa; and to the couragous souls I have met along the way who have given up everything to live on the frontlines of this work. Together, you fuel my passion and help me resist the occassional tug of fatigue or allure of apathy. May we continue with our individual and collective efforts to love, heal and honor one another and ourselves.
The stakes are high. All outcomes are possible.
Yours in service,
The Knowledge Crisis
- Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number (202 million) of children & adolescents on Earth who are in school but not learning the fundamental subjects of reading and math, with nearly 9 out of 10 between the ages of ~6 and 14 not meeting minimum proficiency levels.
- Of those who complete primary education (~elementary school in the USA) in Tanzania, only 10% each year continue on to secondary school (~middle & high school in the USA), giving Tanzania the lowest secondary enrollment rate in Africa. Of those who do enroll in secondary school, only ~6% will pass their Form 4 Exams to successfully complete lower secondary; and only ~3.2% will enroll in higher secondary to complete their equivilent of an American high school education.
- Less than 1% of all Tanzanians complete any form of higher (tertiary) education.
Sources: University of Sussex, World Bank, Human Rights Watch; UNESCO; Girls Education Collaborative; Unicef; Problems Facing Education in Tanzania
To support Unite's efforts to ensure that talented youth across East Africa can access quality education and comprehensive mentoring, Board member David Wells will lead the TANZANIA TREK 2019 to raise funds for our Unite Scholar's Program. This new adventure will combine a descent into the Empakai Crater (in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area) with a climb up the steep and rugged Oldoinyo Lengai, Maasai Mountain of God, and a trek to see the Gorillas of Rwanda. For more information, CLICK HERE and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unite is thrilled to welcome our new summer intern Lauren Murphy. Lauren just completed her Junior year at High Point University in North Carolina where she studies Strategic Communications and Documentary Media. She has worked with many non-profit organizations before including Reading Connections where she helped provide video and PR marketing for events. Lauren is currently apart of Ascension 336, which is a public relations agency at High Point University, and she is also a member of High Point's news team, Triad News 360. For Unite, Lauren is working on editing images using photoshop and editing video clips to be featured on our social media platforms.