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.”

 

#GivingTuesday

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"Donate

Join Maji Safi Group by participating in #GivingTuesday. This year, on December 2nd, the third annual global giving event will be held world wide as the counterpoint to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday challenges individuals and communities to make the world a better place through generosity. The simple act of giving not only helps others, but also nourishes a generous community spirit.

Every gift makes a difference and by donating to Maji Safi Group on #GivingTuesday, you are supporting disease prevention education, healthy lifestyle promotion, and female empowerment in rural areas of Tanzania.

Join the #UNselfie global community and donate to Maji Safi Group on December 2nd for #GivingTuesday! Click the donate button to make a contribution to Maji Safi Group.

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Thank you and Happy Holidays from the Maji Safi Group staff!

 

First Maji Safi Golf-a-Thon

Erna Maj, or “Mama Bruce” as she is known in Shirati, started working with the Maji Safi Group (MSG) in March 2012. She received her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado in Linguistics and TESOL and works as a language teacher, translator, and MSG’s Board Chair. Below, Mama Bruce shares her experience of the Maji Safi Golf-a-Thon she organized and participated in. 


“Great cause! And fresh water IS the key to getting out of poverty. Big first step into the future for these villages … keep up the good work.”– Chris Squadra, Golf-a-Thon Sponsor –


It was a beautiful morning at 9:30 a.m. on September 19th when 18 enthusiastic ladies teed off at Lake Valley Golf Club in warm sunshine under a Colorado-blue sky, and the atmosphere was truly special when the last three players walked onto the 18th green at dusk with a golden glow from a gorgeous sunset over the mountains and dark clouds with a few bolts of lightning to the east. In between, we had played 474 holes, enjoyed a buffet lunch, and truly helped Maji Safi Group and its work with water, sanitation and hygiene education in rural Tanzania by raising awareness and significant financial support.

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Lake Valley Lady Golfers

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“Playing fun golf with great friends. Supporting an important mission. Beautiful weather. A perfect day!”– Jan Fincher, Golf Player –


I presented the idea of playing a Maji Safi Golf-a-thon when we had our spring meeting for our Tuesday 18-hole Ladies League. I was thrilled when my golf friends voted to pursue the idea, but little did I know that the event would grow into a significant fundraiser. In Danish we say, “Mange bække små gør en stor å” which means, “Many small brooks make a big river”. That is exactly what happened here in the best grassroots fashion. We had over 100 sponsors who pledged anything from $0.05 to $12.50 per hole; we had 18 players who played 18, 27 or 45 holes each; and we had many thankful people in Shirati.

Children and Community Health Workers thanking those who supported Maji Safi Group

Children and Community Health Workers thanking those who supported Maji Safi Group

“[I] felt like the quote below surely applies to [Bruce Pelz] and the work he is doing as well as what you are doing to help him! 

“I slept and dreamt life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy!” (Rabindranath Tagore)

– Brenda Lilly, Golf Player –

We already have plans to organize the Second Annual Maji Safi Golf-a-thon for 2015 – not just for the money, but also for the fun and the joy in giving.


“I had more straight-up FUN playing these holes of golf than any I’ve played since I’ve been at Lake Valley. People were all cheering each other on, sincerely, not just pro forma. We all played serious golf and tried to make each shot the best we could, but the camaraderie was unlike anything I’d seen here. We had a common goal, to do good for others, and somehow it translated into fun and friendship.” –Judith Shinn, Golf Player–


[vimeo http://vimeo.com/109264513]

Empowering Tanzanians through Photography

Dear Maji Safi friends,

It is the very first time that I am writing my thoughts for this blog. So first of all let me introduce myself. My name is Christoph Stulz. Soon I will be turning 33 years old, born in Switzerland, proud father of 2 beautiful daughters and working for the Swiss NGO Interteam. I am based in Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania on the picturesque Lake Victoria. My lovely wife is our NGO’s country coordinator so I am also called Interteam’s first lady in Tanzania, thanks to all who gave me this nickname!

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Christoph with Community Health Worker, Lilian

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Christoph with Community Heath Worker, Consol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I have a very interesting assignment with Maji Safi Group in Shirati as a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and, last but not least, as a teacher in photography. I get to educate Maji Safi Group’s Community Health Workers, also called Water Ambassadors.

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

It has been my very first experience in the pedagogic field of teaching adults, so before my first group of Maji Safi Community Health Worker students, I was totally nervous and afraid of standing in front of a group of people, as I am a bit introverted.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

But the first workshops in September and October with 3 different groups of Community Health Workers were fantastic! The students were very interested and the goal we set up was reached.

Photography is a daily occurrence here in Tanzania; people get very excited about pictures of themselves. So called “selfies” are already common in the daily lives of Tanzanians. They love to strike a pose in public places when local photographers are doing their small business. And as the smart mobile phones have gotten cheaper and cheaper, today thousands of photographs make their way through What’s App and Facebook in Tanzania.

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

So the idea behind educating the local staff of Maji Safi Group in photography, and later, in videography, is very interesting. The result of this activity is leading to nice pictures made by locals which are totally different photographs you would get if a foreigner makes them, even if this outsider would be the very best professional photographer. Locals see this world here in a very different way from us foreigners. They will automatically get a more sensitive and closer view or access to the local world here in the villages around Shirati, and finally Maji Safi Group will get wonderful photographic material about our different programs and activities. So, all of us are looking forward to seeing more and more photos as a result. I think some of them will turn out like artwork.

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

During the past 3 workshops, I first explained to each small group of Community Health Workers the different camera types and their parts and simple procedures: like how to turn the camera on and off, how to zoom the lens, how to use the flash. Some of the students haven’t had any experiences with cameras at all before. Others got the sense of it faster, as they had already worked with photography on their mobile phones. So we decided working just with the automatic mode of the cameras because the cameras know much better which settings they should choose for each situation. After the short technical introduction we changed the subject to the even more interesting part about the creativity of photography.  We then talked about the rules which can help us to increase the quality of our pictures to attract or fascinate their future viewers.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

All in all, the first workshops were very successful as you can see here a selection of photographs made by our water ambassadors.

I am looking forward to my next time in Shirati when we continue practicing and take a lot more exciting pictures.

Best greetings from Tanzania,

Christoph Stulz