Empowering Rural Communities

Machiwa Juma volunteers at Tanzania Rural Empowerment Organization (TAREO). The organization provides education, information access and ICT knowledge, specifically to the poor, rural population. This service helps people increase their income, improve their living circumstances and gain a responsible political voice to secure their social and economic rights.

Helping people improve their lives in rural areas is a passion of mine because I was raised in a rural area. Often, rural communities don’t have access to the things we have in cities and towns. If we educate rural communities and help them get loans to establish their own income generating activities, that will help them succeed. My time spent volunteering with AVC has taught me that people living in rural communities have lots of needs. Individuals who have the ability to reduce disparities between different populations in Tanzania, and all of Africa – especially the rural areas – have to take action.

At a TAREO center in Moshi, I teach entrepreneurship classes to motivate students. I asked my boss if I could teach entrepreneurship as a part of informational technology (IT) because I knew it could be beneficial, and he agreed. After one week, I started teaching on every Tuesday and Thursday! This is so important because it will help me and the students acquire the skills that will be helpful for our entire lives. These introductory classes include lessons about creativity and innovation, and logistics like registering your organization with the government. In the future, I hope to visit the rural villages and teach these same entrepreneurship classes to them.

I also lead managerial activities at my office, like: preparing job scopes for current and future staff, and organizational and informational statements for the TAREO website. Many of my activities are new to the organization and I feel like they are beneficial to TAREO. It makes me feel good to implement new projects and systems because these tasks will increase my competence over time. I also work often to support the office manager and the secretary, who I love working with because they are very kind and welcoming.

TAREO teaches IT to primary school students, as well as to students who have graduated from secondary school and college. TAREO also teaches entrepreneurship classes with a focus on IT to women and rural residents. These classes are beneficial for the students because they gain employment from the government or find secretarial work, get loans or donations, and open their own businesses. It helps them learn how to be professionals and to improve their careers.

I am currently learning a lot from a German volunteer who is working at TAREO, and a local IT teacher. They have been working on the website and teaching me a lot. Soon they are going to teach me about blogging and database management, which I know will be beneficial for my future. My favorite thing about my placement is the opportunities I get to learn and grow, and the people that help make that possible.

I am also experiencing and learning new things at TAREO. I have been learning how to write project and grant proposals. I am currently working on my first grant proposal to implement classes to teach entrepreneurship skills to people in rural areas. We are requesting the grant from the Kilimanjaro Cooperative Bank Limited (KCBL) to fund classes in a school in Kyomu.

I choose to be a Volunteer with AVC because I wanted to experience African NGO’s and how they operate to bring development to the community. I have gained insight about peoples’ needs in the community and it has encouraged me to want to establish an organization in the future to serve elderly people, women and children. I have met with many people that all have different needs, and it has helped me understand what life is like in Tanzania for different types of people. I want to work to make life better for everyone.