WOMEN & CHILDREN
A message from Mercy & Aika
Aika and Mercy were both raised and educated in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. After Aika finished her secondary education, she continued with her university education at Moshi Cooperative Education, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Community Economic Development and later on a Masters Degree in Cooperative and Community Development. She has always believed that when you educate a boy you educate an individual, but when you educate a girl you educate the whole community. She has a passion for empowering and training girls to know who they are and help them become strong and confident leaders. She also believes that education builds the confidence needed in students to become leaders and changemakers within their communities.
After completing secondary school, Mercy Mushi joined the CDTI Monduli College of Community Development, Gender, and Children where she graduated with her diploma. Growing up in her community as a girl, she experienced a lot of discrimination. A woman is often regarded as a weak being, a tool for fun and an object for oppression – yet she is able to manage the family and to identify the challenges that she faces. Often girls are denied education and expected to do work at home while boys are taken to school. This has contributed to many girls in Tanzania regarding themselves as weak, without purpose in life and unable to achieve their dreams. As a female, Mercy fights against this kind of treatment by teaching girls to have confidence in themselves and fulfill their purpose by building boldness within them. She believes that empowering girls is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in families around the world, while also strengthening economies. Girls who are educated can transform their communities and pass on the benefits to their children and to their children’s children.
After Mercy and Aika graduated from Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Program, they decided to found Nguzo together. Nguzo which aims to empower young women and men in Tanzania to attain a bright future. Mercy and Aika, alongside other members of the Nguzo board, have a vast experience in youth development programs countrywide, and recognize the following:
- Youth are creative, open to change, energetic and resourceful. If they are helped to harness their potential, to have a voice and to lead, their impact will result in benefits for a wider community.
- Most of the youth are burdened by three key challenges in their lives: staying healthy, achieving a sustainable income, and participating in decision making.
Nguzo has been working hand in hand with Mama Hope in Central and Northern areas of Tanzania since 2016 to educate young girls about women’s health and menstruation, as well as supplying menstruation kits.
Primary school education is the cornerstone of any person to achieve economic and social independence. The majority of the primary school girls perform poorly in their primary school education, and many do not reach the final year of their studies.
We know that puberty is a key process for human development into adulthood, and for the girls, it starts by the onset of menstruation during primary schools, Unfortunately, many girls in Tanzania have little or no idea of what is happening to their bodies and why.
We have then come to realize that most girls experience stress, fear, embarrassment, and social exclusion with the onset of menstruation. Many girls end up dropping out of school altogether.
Nguzo believes that imparting knowledge about women’s health and menstruation to both girls and boys will improve girls’ performance in school.
- Complete the evaluation of menstrual health and body hygiene training program curriculum
- Evaluate the effectiveness of trainings conducted through the health and body hygiene clubs in the first 16 primary school partners
- Establish 60 school partnerships for delivering menstrual health and body hygiene curriculum.
- Train 5,400 primary school girls on body hygiene, menstruation, leadership and life skills. Provide these girls with menstrual kits.
- Establish sports and games programs in all 60 partner schools
- Complete construction of the Nguzo Hub in Bomang’ombe township, including drilling a borehole to support agriculture and installing a solar power irrigation system.
- Establish income generating activities at the Nguzo Hub in permaculture, aquaculture and sewing reusable menstrual pads.
- Recruiting one additional staff (Community development officer).
- Cover at least 15% of operating costs with local income-generating projects.
We are building to our 3-year goals through a combination of income-generating projects. Here's what we're developing right now.
Mercy and Aika’s plan is to purchase 2 hectares of land where they will establish the Nguzo Hub, a training center for youth and women. The hub will also implement permaculture and aquaculture to generate income to help sustain Nguzo’s operating costs. The third project is making reusable pads, which will be sold to women in the community used at primary and secondary schools.