St. Louis Earth Day Goers Combating Cholera

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MSG Practicum student, Michelle Dunajcik, educating the Earth Day festival-goers about Maji Safi Group and the current Cholera outbreak in the Tanzania Rorya District.

The day started off cold and cloudy, but shortly after unloading the car and setting up the table, the sun came out, and April 26 turned into the most perfect spring day imaginable. On this particular morning, Maji Safi Group was a vendor at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival at Forest Park. St. Louis is known for having the second largest Earth Day festival in the United States, which made it a prime location to interact with people from the Midwest region and educate them on the work MSG does in Tanzania.

 

More than 250 vendors participated in the event and drew a festival crowd of more than 50,000 people from all over Missouri and Illinois. With three different types of handmade soap for sale, visitors flocked to our table, and MSG informational brochures disappeared like hotcakes. Furthermore, festival-goers were able to learn about the current cholera outbreak affecting the Rorya region and how their donation or soap purchase would make a direct impact on the work MSG has been doing to combat the spread of waterborne diseases in Shirati.

Overall, more than 200 bars of handmade soap were sold, and many more informational conversations were had throughout the day. This event was led by practicum student, Michelle Dunajcik, who will continue to work with Maji Safi Group in Shirati, Tanzania this summer. Additionally, MSG was able to partner with and recruit volunteers from the “Global Health at the Brown School” student group at Washington University in St. Louis. Without these volunteers, this event would not have been possible. What started off as a cold, dreary day turned into a fun and impactful day for both the visitors and MSG staff at the event!

A BIG thank you to all our volunteers!

A BIG thank you to all our volunteers!

If you are interested in getting involved with Maji Safi Group’s fight against Cholera, please contact us at info@majisafigroup.org and consider donating.

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Women’s Day Out

What a wonderful day…

It was a warm, beautiful day under a cloudless Colorado-blue sky when a group of women met in Boulder, Colorado, on the morning of April 29 for the first Maji Safi Women’s Day Out. Thanks to their interest in supporting Maji Safi Group’s work in Tanzania and the generosity of the Boulder business community, we exercised, enjoyed lunch, and participated in a fun art class.

Erna Mai, Maji Safi Group Board Member and organizer of Women's Day Out

Erna Mai, Maji Safi Group Board Member and organizer of Women’s Day Out

The day started at 9:30 a.m. with an hour exercise class at One Boulder Fitness, arranged by General Manager, June Lantz. Our instructor, Rhiannon McClatchey, led us through a multi-faceted workout where experiencing the fun of TRX equipment was the highlight. Apparently, the military invented the concept of ‘suspension training’, and while we were hanging in those straps, it definitely felt like we were ready to be the next group of female recruits for the US Marines. But alas, it did not quite feel that way the next day when muscle soreness had set in.

June Lantz, General Manager of One Boulder Fitness

June Lantz, General Manager of One Boulder Fitness

Our fitness instructor, Rhiannon McClatchey

Our fitness instructor, Rhiannon McClatchey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having worked up a nice appetite, we continued to The Kitchen, where Manager Geoff Barrett treated us to a delectable lunch made from fresh local produce. We thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and community spirit of this popular downtown Boulder restaurant. Delicious food filled our stomachs, and a glass of wine released our creative talents.

Manager of The Kitchen, Geoff Barrett

Manager of The Kitchen, Geoff Barrett

Basking in the warm midday sun, we then moseyed down Pearl Street to Two Hands Paperie where the owner, Mia Semingson, hosted a four-hour ‘soul collage’ class taught by Rosemary Lohndorf. Two Hands Paperie is a mecca for art and especially paper lovers in Boulder. Engulfed in hospitality, art, color, paper, and beautiful art books, it was virtually impossible not to feel just grand. Many of us were new to the medium of soul collage and realized what fun it is! Rosemary shared inspiring poetry with us and taught us how to make soul cards from magazine pictures. We were hardly professional by the time we left, but each one of us went home with a treasured card that expressed a little piece of our inner self.

Synergies and enthusiasm characterized the entire day. We shared as women can share – our thoughts, our concerns, our dreams, and our desires – as well as our involvement in the nonprofit world. At the end of this first Maji Safi Women’s Day Out, together we had made an impact on each other while supporting women in Tanzania to change their communities’ public health situation.

There was a distinct call from the group for more days just like this! Those will come – as an integral part of Maji Safi Group’s efforts to spread awareness of and raise funds for our important work with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in rural Tanzania. If you are interested in participating in this kind of experience and meeting some wonderful people in the process, please watch for announcements in our monthly newsletter or contact:

Erna Maj
Maji Safi Group
Board Member
erna@majisafigroup.org

“Thank you for such a memorable day, Erna! It was so meaningful from start to finish. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know each of you and to have the opportunity to laugh, stretch and grow together. I look forward to keeping in touch, continuing to support Maji Safi, and to getting together again! Hugs to you all!” — Wende
“What a delightful day this was. Thank you so much, Erna, for creating such a diverse, bonding, interesting and rewarding day. I enjoyed meeting each of you and hope to see you in the future.” — Alice

 

Wiki ya Maji 2015: World Water Week

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2015 National Tanzania Water Week in Musoma

From March 18-22, Maji Safi Group represented the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network and the Lake Zone WASH Forum at the 27th annual National Tanzania Water Week celebration, which was held in Musoma this year. The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET) was founded in 2008 to create a network of Tanzanian civil society organizations that work in the water and sanitation sector. It strives to increase sharing between civil society organizations, promote partnerships between civil society and other sector stakeholders, build the capacity of civil society in the water and sanitation sector, and strengthen the voice of civil society in national policy debates. Furthermore, TAWASANET is promoting the formation of local WASH networks to strengthen impact and efficiency. Maji Safi Group serves as the representative for the Mara Region in the Lake Zone WASH Forum.

Maji Safi Group and TAWASANET Lake Zone booth

Maji Safi Group and TAWASANET Lake Zone booth

The MSG team that traveled to Water Week included three Community Health Workers (Diana Nguka, Mwamvua Saba, and Jared Owaga Ongati), MSG Community Arts Coordinator (Jacky Lucas), MSG Programs Manager (Susan Waltisberg), MSG Director of Operations (Bruce Maj Pelz), and MSG Executive Director (Max Perel-Slater). The team was busy all week teaching lessons on how to prevent disease and giving practical demonstrations on AfriPads, hand washing, and household water treatment methods like chlorine, Solar Disinfection (SODIS), and ceramic filters.

Top left to top right: Jacky Lucas, Susan Waltisberg, Diana Nguka, Jared Owaga Ongati, and Max Perel-Slater Bottom left to bottom right: Bruce Maj Pelz and Mwamvua Saba

Top left to top right: Jacky Lucas, Susan Waltisberg, Diana Nguka, Jared Owaga Ongati, and Max Perel-Slater. Bottom left to bottom right: Bruce Maj Pelz and Mwamvua Saba.

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Tanzanian youth at the Maji Safi Group booth

 

As always, MSG made disease prevention very engaging by combining creative and artistic activities with our health education. Jacky created an amazing banner for the Maji Safi Group tent that depicted possible contamination routes of water sources and potential treatment options. Throughout the week, Tanzanians from all over the country stopped by to check out the artwork and even take pictures! The CHWs and staff also used songs and interactive art projects to make our message resonate with our young visitors. Children of all ages waited, sometimes in long lines, in front of our pavilion to get the chance to draw and paint with Jacky and the CHWs. Meanwhile, the other staff members were teaching adults about water treatment and disease prevention. During Water Week, MSG’s booth reached 2,013 adults and 1,799 children from all over Tanzania who were thrilled to receive our health education.

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The CHWs and Jacky also took many pictures of Water Week. It is great to see how our staff can now transfer the knowledge they get in our workshops to their photography. Our CHWs took all the pictures in this blogpost, except the group picture.

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Youth waiting to learn about disease prevention from Maji Safi Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Week was also an amazing opportunity for the MSG staff to network with other organizations in the Tanzanian water sector and learn about new household water treatment methods. One organization that MSG had particular synergy with was the District Council of Temeke who does disease prevention work similar to ours in the Dar es Salaam area. While the two organizations work in very different settings (urban compared to rural), we were able to compare experiences with teaching the community and make plans to visit each other’s programs.

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Furthermore, the MSG Community Health Workers and staff were able to check out new products for household water treatment. We heard about a new ceramic filter design from Davis and Shirtliff that uses low-cost filter elements. Additionally, we learned about a new type of chlorine tablet that uses sodium chlorite and does not leave a taste or smell in the water after treatment. The MSG staff took home samples of these products for testing to assess if we should integrate them into our lessons.

 

 

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Front left: Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal

On World Water Day (March 22), the Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal, visited our booth and commented that our work is crucial for the health and development of Tanzania! Overall, the week was an amazing opportunity for MSG to teach community members from across Tanzania, get significant exposure in the water sector, and create opportunities for cooperation with other WASH organizations.

Bikes for Clean Water

BicycleBicycles are instrumental to the implementation and growth of Maji Safi Group’s (MSG) programs. With bikes, our Community Health Workers can reach remote areas in the Rorya District more easily and teach more families about clean water and the importance of sanitation and hygiene. This year on January 25, Emily Bull, President of Maji Safi Group, and Michelle Dunajcik, a Maji Safi Group MSW practicum student, were invited to represent MSG at Trailnet’s annual Bike Expo in St. Louis. Throughout the day, they raised awareness of the critical need for bikes worldwide. Michelle started her practicum with MSG on January 12 and has already proven that she is up for the challenge of working with a fast-paced developing nonprofit. Below, is her account of her first event with Maji Safi Group.

Emily (left) and Michelle (Right) at the Bike Expo

Emily (left) and Michelle (right) at the Bike Expo

With my arms full of printed materials and a travel mug full of coffee, I walked into the 55,000-square-foot Gateway Conference Center. It was a room full of bikes and bike-loving people.

Two weeks into my practicum with Maji Safi Group, and I was already working on spreading awareness for MSG and fundraising. Did I remember all the information about Maji Safi? Did I know how to get people’s attention? What was I supposed to say to people to get them interested and aware?

I looked down at everything in my hands. Thank goodness I brought coffee, I thought.

 

Michelle at the Maji Safi Group booth

Michelle at the Maji Safi Group booth

As the doors opened, and the Trailnet Bike Expo officially began, people started to meander around and peruse the different booths that were set up throughout the Expo space. Our goal that day was threefold: spread awareness of Maji Safi’s mission and the global WASH crises, raise money to buy new bikes for our Community Health Workers, and create new connections. Our table was covered with several pieces of Tanzanian fabric and decorated with pictures, an informative trifold, a donation jar, print materials that gave more information about Maji Safi, and stickers and bracelets for the little kids. We also set up a water carrying demonstration with ‘jerry cans’ next to our booth for Expo goers to better understand the conditions the people in Shirati face when getting water.

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Girls in Shirati walking to Lake Victoria to get water for their families

Girls in Shirati, Tanzania, walking to Lake Victoria to get water for their families

As people walked by, Emily and I began to engage them in conversation.

“Good morning, we’re trying to raise money for bikes for our organization in Africa. Every little bit helps!” I chirped at the next passerby, a woman who politely declined and began shopping for bikes at the display across from ours.

Oh no! Is it going to be like this all day? I worried internally. Quickly, the tide turned, and I no longer had time for internal monologues. Soon, a steady stream of new arrivals and interested individuals stopped by our table wanting to learn more and donate to the cause.

Maji Safi Group display

Maji Safi Group display

The day went so well. We connected with several interested people, AND we ended up raising enough money for FIVE new bikes and much needed repairs on the old ones in Shirati! The people at the Expo were so generous and loved learning about Maji Safi Group and the impact we are making on WASH behavioral changes in the Shirati community. I went home that night exhausted, but smiling and excited for the rest of my time with Maji Safi Group.

Community Health Worker, Merciana, with a Maji Safi Group bike

Community Health Worker, Merciana, with a Maji Safi Group bike

For a better insight into the life of a ‘Water Carrier’ and the need for bikes in Shirati, Tanzania, check out the short video below, filmed and edited by Maji Safi Group volunteer Paul Horton.

Powerful Women

Young women of the Female Hygiene Program

Young women of the Female Hygiene Program

Maji Safi Group’s Female Hygiene Program brings Shirati’s powerful women together. In this remote corner of Tanzania, many young women live in families where female changes are a taboo subject; yet, such information keeps young women in school. Throughout the year, Maji Safi Group (MSG) enables these young women to learn about puberty, hygiene, health, disease prevention, and healthy relationships from Judith and Linda, their female Community Health Worker mentors. The goals of this program are not only to teach proper Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) behaviors and disease prevention, but also to decrease school absences and foster creative, athletic, intellectual, and leadership abilities in the participants. In addition to lessons, these young women are encouraged to take part in fun and creative activities.

Female mentor- Judith

Female Mentor- Judith

Female Mentor- Linda

Female Mentor- Linda

It is not easy for young women to ask questions about female hygiene and health when they grow up in an environment filled with taboos, cultural stigmas, and safety hazards for women. MSG’s Female Hygiene Program offers a safe environment where they can talk freely and ask sensitive questions. Program participants become young ambassadors for health and feel comfortable teaching female hygiene to their peers.

Young women of the Female Hygiene Program teaching about female health and hygiene.

Young women of the Female Hygiene Program teaching about female health and hygiene.

Women in the Shirati community learning about menstrual pads.

Women in the Shirati community learning about menstrual pads.

Three times a year, Maji Safi Group’s Female Hygiene Program includes the participants’ mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, and other female relatives in our “Dining for Female Hygiene” events. Female relatives are invited to learn about the Female Hygiene Program and the lessons that are taught, and the events give them the opportunity to ask any questions they have about female health and hygiene. On Saturday, December 13, 2014, such powerful women – 85 of them – spent half a day together, learning about these topics and enjoying a delicious lunch that MSG’s Community Health Workers had prepared.

Preparing food for 'Dining for Female Hygiene'

Preparing food for ‘Dining for Female Hygiene’

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Female elder participating in ‘Dining for Female Hygiene’

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Mothers, Aunts, Grandmas from the community coming together to learn about female hygiene.

Judith, Linda, and the regular program participants presented AFRIpads and showed the audience how to use these reusable feminine hygiene pads. Women who were already using such pads talked about their experiences in an open and safe environment. The girls also showed what they had learned through dances and skits, and thanks to Lunapads’ generous donation of AFRIpads, every woman at the event went home with a set of pads that will last them for a year.

Many women from the community came out for the event.

Many women from the community came out for the event.

Reusable pads

Reusable pads

Skits and dances preformed by Female Hygiene Group

Skits and dances performed by Female Hygiene Group

What a day this was! It was amazing to spend time with all these women, discussing sensitive topics in an open, free, and safe environment. For some mothers, it was the first time their daughters taught them something in front of an audience. There were some mighty proud Mamas in Shirati that beautiful day in December!

Nimefurahi kujiunga timu ya Maji Safi Group!

(I am happy to join the Maji Safi Group team!)

Shirati, Tanzania

Shirati, Tanzania

On September 3, 2014, I arrived in Shirati, Tanzania, to join the Maji Safi Group team. I am a Swiss citizen, and I am working for INTERTEAM, a Swiss NGO. Guided by the motto, “Sharing knowledge – Relieving poverty”, INTERTEAM fights for better living conditions in poverty-stricken countries while increasing Switzerland’s solidarity with people in the southern hemisphere. At the heart of the commitment, is the transfer of knowledge, skills and experience to partner organizations. To this end, INTERTEAM organizes work assignments for qualified Swiss professionals who carry out development work in Africa or Latin America.

Susan in front of the Maji Safi Group Office

Susan in front of the Maji Safi Group Office

Being born and raised in Switzerland, I automatically had privileges many people around the world can only dream of: education, free choice of work, ongoing education as an adult, self-determination, having insurance for nearly everything, etc.

As a young girl, I received vocational education and worked as an office clerk for my first job. While working, I studied different fields. Today, I am a Specialist in Business Organization. I am also a certified vocational trainer for apprentices. While working for many different organizations, small and big Swiss companies, as well as different international organizations, I gained a lot of experience in various fields of Business Organization – such as process, project and change management, accounting, human resources management, and facility management.

Looking for a new challenge in my life, I decided to work for INTERTEAM and to share my knowledge with people who do not have the advantage of being born in a society that provides all those opportunities I took for granted. I will work with Maji Safi Group until summer 2017. I will support the team in strengthening structures and making sure that Maji Safi Group can grow sustainably on a stable foundation. While in Shirati, I will help implement systems for accounting, human resources, and compliance, help strengthen the evaluation processes, and coach staff members. As the Maji Safi Group works in a participatory way, we will do all these steps together as a team.

Maji Safi Group team (Susan in the far right corner).

Maji Safi Group team (Susan in the far right corner).

Actually, after 3 months of being a member of a team of highly motivated people, who work in the community with passion and profound skills, I am of the impression that it is me who needs to be taught the most!

Susan washing her hands in Shirati

Susan washing her hands in Shirati

I arrived in Tanzania in July and had one week of introductions in Mwanza about Tanzanian culture and the work of INTERTEAM. I spent the next seven weeks in Dar es Salaam to learn basic Kiswahili, the national language of Tanzania. So, I thought I would be prepared for living and working in Shirati, but life in a rural community like Shirati is completely different from being in a city like Mwanza or Dar es Salaam. In cities, you feel like a stranger, and you have to learn many things about behavior. Living in a village is completely different.

Susan learning how to make Chipati (Tanzanian fried bread).

Susan learning how to make Chipati (Tanzanian fried bread).

Susan and her Swahili teacher in Dar es Salaam

Susan and her Swahili teacher in Dar es Salaam

The most important thing in the village is to be part of the society and the community. Compared to the lifestyle in places like Europe or the USA where we live as individuals, people in rural Tanzania are closely connected. So for me, living in this environment means being observed nearly all the time, being asked where I am going, asked whom I am going to meet, and when I will be back home. There are irritating situations, like visitors showing up at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, while I was still in my pajamas and drinking coffee on my terrace. That being said, I am slowly getting used to being visited without calls in advance or invitations. I will get used to my landlady knowing that I will leave for a few days – even though I have not yet told her. And, I already enjoy being welcomed by all my neighbors when I return.

Susan working at a Maji Safi Cup

Susan working at a Maji Safi Cup

 

To finish my work and be useful, I have to learn many things about “Tanzanian work flow”. For example, accounting is a completely different task here in Tanzania. What makes the difference so glaring is the fact that accounting in Tanzania is much less computer-based than what I was used to in Switzerland. It seems to me that for every step in the process, I have to fill in at least 3 forms in 3 copies. And usually, you need carbon copy paper – I think the last time I used carbon copy paper was 20 years ago!

Susan working at the Maji Safi Cup

Susan working at the Maji Safi Cup

What I really appreciate is the motivation, kindness, and patience of my colleagues at Maji Safi Group. They help me, teach me, and support me in getting used to the new ways of doing daily business. I also have support from external specialists; for example, the head of the accounting department of the KMT Hospital here in Shirati. He gave me the first introduction to the “Tanzanian way of accounting” and will help me if I struggle.

Susan with some children in Shirati

Susan with some children in Shirati

I experience a lot of support at work and also in my daily life. My landlady explained my electricity bill to me (yes, even if the bill was written in English, I had no clue which figure meant what on the paper or how to pay it!), and we have an agreement now that whenever agents from the electricity company are in town to collect the money, her son pays the bill for me, as I am usually working at that time. And one of my neighbors helps me with my household chores. I am so glad to have someone who is doing the laundry for me. I don’t know how much time I would need to wash bed sheets, as I have never done it, and I already know that task takes experience!

Mama Lilian (Susan's landlady) and Susan

Mama Lilian (Susan’s landlady) and Susan

Lilian (Susan's neighbor) and Susan

Lilian (Susan’s neighbor) and Susan

As I have started to feel more at home in Shirati, I now wake up every morning looking forward to new challenges and surprises and to learning from the Watanzania (the Tanzanian people).

Susan Waltisberg

Trophy Goats, Soccer, and WASH Education

_MG_0708This year’s Maji Safi Cup was our biggest soccer tournament to date, involving over a month of hard-fought matches between 14 teams – all hoping to win “the trophy goat”. During that period, a total of 1675 community members came out to watch and cheer, and over 800 youths attended the pre-match water, sanitation and hygiene lessons needed to be eligible to play. As Community Health Worker Jacob Nyangoye explains, “The goal of Maji Safi Cups is to provide health and sanitation education while improving talents among youth in the Shirati area. Maji Safi Cups bring us closer to the community by working with hundreds of young adults, while also building camaraderie among youths from different villages through realizing the importance of preventing disease.”_MG_0712

This Maji Safi Cup saw 14 teams sign up who were then split into four groups, with matches starting on October 29, 2014. Throughout the group play, we saw the players’ ability and confidence to talk about hygiene and sanitation grow along with the pressure of the looming elimination games. The lessons focused mainly on hand washing, sportsmanship, and the importance of personal hygiene in gaining the respect of fellow community members. The matches on Nov. 22nd identified our final group winners, thus setting up the single elimination semi-finals. The semi-finals, held on November 26th and November 29th, were both hard-fought matches that left Chapakazi FC and Tina’s Education Center to battle it out in the final. Chapakazi FC were the veterans who had won the 2013 Maji Safi Cup, whereas Tina’s was in the cup for the first time, but they had shown solid team tactics and cool composure over the ball._MG_0758

A Maji Safi Cup final is always a special event, because it is often the first time players get the chance to perform in front of hundreds of people in a party-like atmosphere with music in the background. Over one hundred youths came out for the pre-match personal hygiene lesson, and by the middle of the first half, over 300 spectators were at the field rooting for their teams. Chapakazi FC got ahead early with a breakaway goal within the first 2 minutes of kickoff. Although Tina’s was a bit shocked, they were able to right the ship and go into halftime only down 1-0. Tina’s missed a few chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half, and Chapakazi FC took advantage with a strike from outside the 18-yard box with only 10 minutes to go, sealing the deal by going ahead 2-0._MG_0726

Following the final whistle of the highly contested match, the whole crowd came together for the award celebration. The players from Tina’s Education Center were very graceful in defeat. One of them told the crowd, “It was a good match, because everyone played with respect, and no one got hurt.” All the finalists then received school supplies as their prize, and Chapakazi FC was awarded the coveted “trophy goat”. With people dancing around the field, and before everyone could finish washing their hands to eat bananas, the two-time champions had started running their trophy goat to town center.

Winning team with their "trophy goat"

Winning team with their “trophy goat”

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While enjoying the music and our bananas with big smiles on our faces, we too were thankful for an injury-free tournament and the power of sports in bringing awareness to crucial social problems in the world.

 

Miss Maji Safi

A year ago in November, Maji Safi Group (MSG) hosted the first ever Miss Maji Safi Day in Shirati, Tanzania. This day was imagined, created, and promoted by the young women and leaders of MSG’s Female Hygiene Program. It stands for female empowerment and allows young women to share the pride they take in being strong, confident, and independent individuals who value their bodies and intellect. The Female Hygiene Program started in August 2013 as a way to promote female health and hygiene, the importance of female education, and AFRIpads (reusable sanitary pads generously donated by Lunapads’ One4Her Program). This program started with 20 participants, who met weekly, and it has grown to reach 60 young women twice a week.

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Young women from 2013 Miss Maji Safi Event

 

This year on November 22nd, Maji Safi Group celebrated its second annual Miss Maji Safi Day. Together with the MSG Community Health Workers, 60 young women from Maji Safi’s Female Hygiene Program planned and participated in putting on the event. Over 650 members of the Shirati community attended to see dances and skits about female hygiene and health and sing Maji Safi songs that teach about disease prevention.

In addition to the runway activities, the “Miss Maji Safi” competition tested the program participants on their knowledge of the relationship between female health and hygiene and school attendance and allowed them to show their community the pride and self-confidence they have in being young women. This year, there was also a competition between the female Community Health Workers to win the title of “Miss Mabolozi 2014”. The young MSG women were thrilled with the success of the day. We congratulate Lucia Lucas on being “Miss Maji Safi 2014” and Diana Nguka on being “Miss Mabolozi 2014”!

We are so proud of all the young women in the Female Hygiene Program! They are all wonderful role models to their peers and a great example of strong, empowered, intelligent women in their community.

Maji Safi Group’s Educational Model Needed in Our Own Backyard

Emily BullOriginally from San Antonio, Texas, Emily Bull received a double BA in Psychology and Religious Studies from Austin College in Sherman, TX. She has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in International Social Economic Development from Washington University in St. Louis. Emily has worked with Maji Safi Group for nearly two years as the US Director of Operations and Development and was recently appointed President of the organization. Emily has specialized skills in participatory development (international and domestic), strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of programs, and international sustainable community development. Below, Emily writes about expanding the Maji Safi Group curriculum to the states. 

The Maji Safi Group team in St. Louis is working hard to expand its outreach and provide awareness about water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and our programs in Tanzania. Maria, our past MSW practicum student, connected us with North Greene Jr. and Sr. High School in Whitehall, IL, a rural community located in Greene County, about an hour and a half from St. Louis. Max, Maria and I were invited to present WASH education to the students.

Emily, Max, and Maria enjoying lunch at North Greene.

Emily, Max, and Maria enjoying lunch at North Greene.

Emily teaching 7th graders how to properly wash their hands.

Emily teaching 7th graders how to properly wash their hands.

Greene County is particularly in need of WASH education, because many of their students come from homes that have dirt floors, contaminated water pipes, and/or no running water. Therefore, they are not living in sanitary conditions, get sick from their water source, and often times do not have water for washing their clothes or bathing.

Maria explaining where Tanzania is and what Maji Safi Group does in Shirati.

Maria explaining where Tanzania is and what Maji Safi Group does in Shirati.

After spending four years of my young adult life working in rural communities in East Africa, parts of Asia, and Central America, I can honestly say that it is easy to overlook the rural issues in America. In developing countries, rural communities are the norm, and therefore, more outwardly prevalent. According to World Urbanization Prospects, 73.6% of Tanzanians live in a rural community as compared to 17.1% in the United States. Seeing how the conditions in Greene County are similar to those in Tanzania, such as contaminated water sources and lack or resources for maintaining personal hygiene, made our team realize that Maji Safi Group’s education and model are much needed and can be used in our own backyard.

Maria teaching a high school class about the proper times to wash your hands.

Maria teaching a high school class about the proper times to wash your hands.

 

On November 20th, we taught over 200 students, ages 12-18. The students learned about the importance of washing hands, how to properly boil and filter their water, and about the global issues community members face in Shirati. Since residents in Greene County were currently under Boil Order, meaning that water in their area must be boiled due to flooding and contaminated pipes, the education was extremely needed and received with enthusiasm.

Max demonstrating how germs spread with an 8th grade class.

Max demonstrating how germs spread with an 8th grade class.

 

 

I am happy to say that we have established a great partnership with North Greene Jr. and Sr. High School and will teach their students at least once a semester. We are also in conversation to start teaching the elementary school kids.

 

 


“I appreciate you three coming here so much! I thought it went great, and the students were very engaged, which is tough to do sometimes! The Jr. High was extremely thankful as well.” – Sarah Coultas, North Greene Health Teacher

Welcome to Maji Safi Group!

Maji Safi Group (MSG) is very excited to introduce the newest members of the MSG team.

Susan Waltisberg, Tanzania Program Manager

GHD_Christoph_01Susan is originally from Switzerland and worked as a Specialist in Business Organization for the last eight years at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland. Since July 2014, she has worked for INTERTEAM, a Swiss NGO, as a development worker. She joined the Maji Safi Group (MSG) team in September 2014. Susan will be supporting MSG with her knowledge in corporate development and administration until summer 2017.

 

Question: What interests you most about Maji Safi Group?

Susan’s answer: “To share knowledge. To learn from my colleagues and to support them in organizational tasks – to make it easier for them to concentrate on MSG’s core processes. I want to learn as much as possible about working and living in Tanzania.”


Raphael Kisasila Nsukuma, MS, Tanzania Accountant

Raphael Kisasila Nsukuma was born and raised at Lalago GHD_Christoph_02Village Maswa District in Simiyu Region. He received his Diploma in Accounting and Management from Cambridge University in 2002 and received his first degree in Accounting from St. August University of Tanzania in 2008. Currently, Raphael has completed his Master of Science in Accounting and Finance from Mzumbe University.Raphael worked with World Vision International as the Program Accountant from 2002-2005 with WASH Projects. He also worked with Africa Inland Church, Diocese of Shinyanga, from 2008- Sept 2014 as an accountant for Donor-funded Programs. In October 2014, Raphael joined Maji Safi Group  in Shirati, Tanzania, as the organization’s Head Accountant.

Question: What do you bring to Maji Safi Group?

 Raphael’s answer: “I expect to use my knowledge, experience and skills which will contribute positively to the growth of Maji Safi Group by ensuring that the accounting department is well organized, proper accounting systems are set, timely reporting is made, there is proper use of resources, and that budgeting and budgetary control are adhered to.”


Grace Goldstein, US Treasurer

IMG_0366Grace grew up outside of Washington, DC and did not stray far from home for college where she graduated with a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia. While at UVA, she studied abroad in Falmouth, Jamaica, and Copenhagen, Denmark. After graduating, Grace moved back to DC and worked for a national construction company for two years. She decided to go back to school and is currently in her last year at Washington University in St. Louis in the dual MBA and Master of Architecture Program. She is focusing on social entrepreneurship and related architectural design. She took advantage of the travel opportunities in graduate school and studied in Barcelona, Japan, and she just returned from her first experience with Maji Safi in Shirati, Tanzania, in August.

Question: What goals do you personally have for Maji Safi Group?

Grace’s Answer: “I think MSG has amazing potential to impact not only the current population in Shirati, but also to change future generations’ trajectory through current education and outreach efforts.”


 Matt James, MBA, Board Member

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I have attempted to orient my career in a way that allows me to both generate value to the organizations I work with as well as to generate value to the communities in which I work. To this end, my career has encompassed financing of affordable housing, community development, education and renewable energy. As my career progresses, I hope to contribute new ideas and solutions to the problems that affect our society nationally and globally by creating and supporting sustainable businesses. I have a Master’s Degree in International Business and Bachelor’s in International Studies with a focus on international development.

Question: How is working with Maji Safi Group?

Matt’s answer: “I’ve had such a wonderful experience working with the team at Maji Safi. They remind me of the importance of action. In solving problems related to hygiene and clean water, Maji Safi is able to create tangible results in Shirati today, and their work will lead to a better tomorrow for the people it reaches. It can be daunting to tackle an issue as difficult as clean water, and many experts spend their days thinking about what to do – Maji Safi is doing it!”


Marissa Jaross, MPH, Board Member

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With a background in public health and evaluation, Marissa is excited to bring her enthusiasm for social justice, responsible development, and WASH to Maji Safi Group.  In addition to her Master of Public Health from George Washington University, Marissa holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While at CU Boulder, she completed a study abroad program in the Balkans, studying civil society in a post-conflict region. During her time at George Washington University, she focused on Global Health Communication, allowing her to focus on healthy behavior change and organizational communication. For her master’s thesis, Marissa completed a communications evaluation and strategic plan for El Porvenir, a Colorado-based nonprofit operating water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Nicaragua. Currently, Marissa works at JVA Consulting as a Research and Evaluation Associate with social change organizations.

Marissa is a longtime volunteer food server with Bridge House in Boulder and sits on the International Affairs Committee for the annual Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Question: What interests you most about Maji Safi Group?

Marissa’s answer: “You’re doing it right! CHW model, full integration of Tanzanian staff, and an openness to new ideas!”


 Margaret Fredrickson, MPA, Board Member

Originally from Oklahoma City, Margaret received her B.A. IMG_0309in Anthropology from Scripps College and an MPA, with a concentration on Humanitarian Relief, from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. While in college, she studied abroad in Brazil and Japan and later on worked in China and Ethiopia before settling down in New York City. Margaret is passionate about the transformative effect of philanthropy on individuals and has worked as a major gift fundraiser since 2006. She enjoys making an impact in her current role as a Major and Legacy Giving Officer for World Learning and lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

Question: As a board member, what do you hope to contribute to Maji Safi Group?

Margaret’s answer: “My hope as a board member for MSG is not only to help improve the lives of the children and families in Shirati, but to work as a team on creating an operational and working model that can be replicated in other communities. Our goal is to eventually leave Shirati in the capable hands of locals and move on to other places where the MSG model is needed.”


Shelly Liposky, MBA, MS, Board Member

FullSizeRenderShelly has 20 years of experience in Financial Services and Public and Private Education. She is a Director at Barclays PLC with global responsibility across the Corporate and Investment Bank and Wealth and Investment Management. She has extensive experience with business management, including financial and strategic planning, governance and controls, communications, and human capital management. Prior to her career in Financial Services, Shelly held leadership positions in public education where she led diverse schools in a high poverty area outside of Washington, DC, taught students with disabilities, and coached varsity sports. During her career in education, she achieved remarkable results by implementing and teaching the reading methodology now used by Read Write America, and she expanded the program across the school system of 130k students, increasing student performance and reducing costs.

Shelly earned a B.S. in Special Education from Penn State University, an M.S. in Education Management from Johns Hopkins University, and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She sings in a contemporary choir and enjoys sports and music.

Question: Why is Maji Safi Group’s mission important to you?  

Shelly’s answer: “Preventative healthcare is fundamental. I have a passion for education and much of what precludes learning is tied to unmet primary needs (food, shelter, clothing), and I would add clean water.”


Michelle Dunajcik, Maji Safi Group Fellow

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Michelle, a St. Louis native, headed to the Deep South and received her Bachelor of Social Work from The University of Alabama in 2013. While at Alabama, Michelle decided to take a semester off and volunteer abroad with an orphan care ministry located just outside of Kampala, Uganda, for a little over seven months. It was during this time abroad that she realized her two passions for international travel and working for social change could intersect within a work environment if she was equipped with the right skills and knowledge. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis with a concentration in International Social and Economic Development. Along with Uganda, she has experience traveling and working overseas in Chile, Britain, New Zealand, and Japan, and she is looking forward to adding Tanzania to that list next year. Michelle is excited to join the Maji Safi team and begin working as the Social Work practicum student in the spring and summer of 2015.

Question: How did you get involved with Maji Safi Group?

Michelle’s Answer: “As I began my Social Work practicum search, a professor at Wash U told me about Maji Safi Group and lauded it as an organization with an incredible practicum opportunity for any student interested in social and economic development. After learning more about Maji Safi through their website and by talking to previous practicum students, I was hooked and began the application process. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with MSG both in St. Louis and in Tanzania this coming spring and summer.”