NGO Spotlight: Global Partners for Development

Global Partners: Community-Driven Development for Education

Global Partners for Development has relentlessly pursued long-term solutions to the needs facing East African communities for over 35 years. Although they have always practiced community-driven development, Global Partners has recently incorporated a more school-centric model. When they decided to try something new by adjusting their model of work, they knew they had to be committed to getting it right. Global Partners identifies schools with exceptionally low education indicators and partners with local communities to increase civic engagement, bolster local capacity for project management, and invest in community-driven projects at their schools.

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Why the change? In short, while Global Partners was proud of their long history and the work they’ve done throughout the years, they face the challenge of impacting even more disenfranchised communities in the future. More than 4.5 million children in East Africa remain out of school. Children from poor households are less likely to have access to education than those from rich households, and females from rural areas are often the worst off of all. Waterborne diseases remain rampant in East Africa and cause chronic illness and death, especially among young children. Global Partners believes their new school-centric model will better enable them to implement scalable projects and achieve sustainable results in a larger number of communities.

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Why schools? Quality education impacts every development outcome for generations. Research has proven that an educated child, and especially an educated girl, will have a smaller, healthier family with an improved livelihood. The hope is that by partnering directly with schools and communities and engaging and training them to work together, Global Partners will improve the greater communities’ perception of the importance of education and further associate education with village and family development.

Why engage the community? Engaged citizens are more confident in their ability to participate in community development, and community engagement fosters local ownership. Local ownership helps ensure the long-term sustainability of development projects.

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What’s next? Based on indicators relatedto poverty and education, Global Partners has concluded that the Singida Region of Tanzania is in critical need of support for its public schools. Learn more about the specific plans Global Partners for Development has for Singida as well as other opportunities, such as donating to secondary school scholarships for girls in Uganda, on the UniversalGiving website. 

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My Volunteer Experience in Tanzania

By Nicola Da Silva 

The phone buzzed and it was my mom. “Guess what? Nic, Andrew, and Lex booked a trip to Zanzibar, Tanzania and invited me to join. We wish you and Daniel could join to – any chance of that??” Sometimes you get invitations to events and you weakly offer to try your best to make it happen and other times you get an invitation to something and you know that no matter what you will be going! This was one of those. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about going on this trip, but as soon as I knew about it, I couldn’t think about anything else. I started making plans the very next day and everything fell into place perfectly in the 3 weeks I had to pull it off.

I also decided to contact UniversalGiving and see if they could set me up to do some volunteer work while on vacation. Amazingly they helped me find Embrace Tanzania. I emailed them and they got me in touch with Selestin, who is based in Zanzibar and manages the volunteer effort there. 2 days before I left on the trip I emailed Selestin and told him I was coming and would love to have a look at what they  were doing in Zanzibar and see if I could help and also get them connected with Universal Giving. Selestin replied straight away and gave me the address and his telephone number. By the time I checked into the hotel, he had already spoken to them to help organize a day I could come see the different volunteer sites.

On Monday April 28th, my mom and I stepped out of our hotel and into a cab and went to Bububu, Zanzibar. Selestin met us there and showed us around the building where volunteers stay and then Selestin, his colleague Edward, my mom, the cab driver, and I went for lunch. We chatted about the different volunteering options and how my mom and I could get involved. Next stop was the orphanage where Mama Suz looks after about 30 children. The house is a school in the morning; then some of the children go home and others stay at the orphanage. Some children are orphans and others have parents in the sober houses nearby.

I could see that Mama Suz tries her best to look after all these children, but I also noticed that she was conscious of the state of the building and the lack of beds for all the children. We met the kids and then had a “business meeting” in the shade of the tree. I explained what UniversalGiving does and that I would get her connected with them and then asked what her ideas were. Wow – she has such amazing plans and knows what’s important. She said, “these children are orphans and the best thing for them is to have a stable home.” She wants to buy a house so that the children feel secure; buy a bus and have other children in other villages attend her school and pay school fees; and have the school fees as an income so she can afford to look after the children in the orphanage. I loved the idea and we started chatting about what she needed for that to happen. We figured out that the best thing would be for her raise money to buy a piece of land and have a volunteer project set up to build a house for her and the children.

The next step would be to raise money for the bus and get the new children from other villages enrolled in her school. She may need to get more volunteer teachers or hire some more teachers. I offered to do all I could to help her with this dream… and to be honest ever since I got back a month ago, all I can think about is how to help Mama Suz and the children have a home.


Inspired by this amazing story? Click here to change a child’s life by volunteering in Tanzania!

“Double Marginalized” The Story of Maanda Ngoitiko and the Pastoral Women’s Council

UniversalGiving wants to honor mothers this week. Maanda Ngoutiko was not a biological mother, but she was a mother figure to many Maasai women.

Global Partners for Development shared this news story by Amy Holter about a very strong Maassai woman.

*Disclaimer – this post contains some disturbing content.

Maanda Ngoitiko, the founder and executive director of the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) in Loliondo, Tanzania, is a Maasai woman. In her culture, she says that being born a girl means being treated like the property that you will never own. She says it means that you will become a bride to be used as a pawn to support your father’s local relationships. She says it means a life of being viewed as a child far into adulthood.

In the school that PWC built, Maanda’s colorful, plentiful Maasai beads clinked as she settled in. The weight of them would become more and more meaningful as she guided me through her story.

Maanda was born in Olorsiwa, a subvillage in the Loliondo District. There, she walked approximately eight kilometers to primary school every day with her best friend. When she was in Standard 6 (the equivalent of sixth grade in the U.S.), her best friend went through female genital mutilation and was told that her father had chosen a husband for her. When she refused to marry him, the men in her family took her to a public space, removed her clothes, and beat her. Maanda watched as her friend’s father held up her clothes as a warning that other girls should not resist marriage in the same shameful way.

“I was very lonely in my heart when she dropped out of school,” said Maanda. “I could not help her. I felt really desperate.”

Soon, it was Maanda’s turn to resist marriage. Her father found her a husband when she was still 12 years old. She refused to marry him as well as the second man her father found for her. After she finished primary school, she cared for cows with her father and uncles for three years.

Her actions were “discussed widely” in the district, and Maanda’s disobedience and disrespect to her family quickly became a subject of local news briefings held at political meetings. A Member of Parliament heard about Maanda and offered to send her to school. Though her father ignored the offer, her uncle told her that she should run away to the bush, and he would arrange for the Member of Parliament to find her.

“I waited for a long time in the bush. Then, I saw a light from a car coming towards me. A light to take me away.”

Maanda was admitted into the Training Center for Development in Arusha. On her first day, Maanda met Alais Morindat, another current partner of Global Partners and leader of Arkaria Village, who gave her tutorials in English and math for two years. One of her teachers linked her to the Irish Embassy, and she received a scholarship to study in Dublin where she earned her bachelor’s degree in development studies.

After returning to Loliondo and reuniting with her family, Maanda started meeting with other women in Loliondo Division by creating “a forum for women to discuss their own issues,” which eventually became PWC. The women met without any funding for four years with the goal of improving women’s solidarity and increasing interest in girls’ education. Many in the community opposed them from the beginning, claiming that women should not meet alone without men.

“[Maasai women] are double marginalized,” said Maanda. “We are marginalized by the larger society for being Maasai, and we are marginalized by the Maasai for being women.”

When asked why she came back to a culture that often treats women with disregard and sometimes violence, Maanda wasn’t sure where to start. “There are some Maasai girls, even those saved by PWC, that as soon as they get their way, they run away forever. They see this culture as a serious threat to their freedom.” But, she went on:

“I wanted to come back because I wanted to see a generational change. I wanted to see more Maasai girls enjoy their freedom. I wanted a new generation of Maasai women who are being treated with dignity and respect. I wanted to change the perception of men.”

She also said that the Maasai have many wonderful aspects of their culture. “If you are very poor in a Maasai community, you will never die of hunger when your neighbor has food – there is a culture of sharing what you have. The Maasai have also been the guardians of the environment for centuries, but they are not recognized by the government and are subjected to land alienation. I wanted to teach this community to be a bridge between the Maasai and the government. Without land, there is no Maasai.”

PWC has now established 260 active women’s groups across three districts and engages thousands of women. Though it’s work is still opposed by some, PWC is growing and is embraced by more and more members of the community, both male and female. Through PWC and other organizations, a locally driven women’s rights movement is underway in Maasai communities across Tanzania.

One of the goals of PWC is to rescue girls who are escaping forced marriage and other forms of violence. Last year, PWC rescued 17 girls, many through police intervention, and all of them lived at Maanda’s home.

I met one of the girls who was rescued by PWC in 2014. She was in school and went home to visit her parents. When she arrived home, they locked her in a room and told her that her future husband would soon come to get her. A woman who did not realize she was there unlocked the room to retrieve something. When she saw the girl, she called Maanda, and the police came to take the girl away.

“She cried the whole night,” recalls Maanda. “This is just one case, but we have a lot of cases like that.”

This girl is now continuing her studies through a scholarship from Global Partners. With funding from Global Partners and mentorship from women in PWC, she will finish her studies and hopefully reunite with her family to help them understand her unconventional path.

In March 2016, Global Partners supported PWC in purchasing a large house near the PWC office that will serve as a rescue center for Maasai girls. Maanda anticipates that at least 100 girls will be supported through this center each year while they transition into dormitories at secondary schools. The gated home has a 24-hour security guard and matron. With bunk beds, blankets, pillows, computers, and solar electricity, the girls will be welcomed into a space where they can work through their emotional trauma with girls who had similar experiences and alongside women who embody the strength and perseverance they will need to pursue their individual and collective ambitions.

Through local initiatives and international partnerships like this, Maanda and women like her are helping to shape the future of human rights among the Maasai. As I stood in what I will call the “rescue home,” I could feel the possibility. I could almost hear the tears and laughter of the girls that would fill it in the coming months. I ached to tell them that help was on the way.

“Oh, we really have to keep moving,” said Maanda as she looked at the time – we were late to a Maasai fundraiser for women’s businesses and girls’ scholarships.

Yes, Maanda, yes we do.

This article is from Global Partners for Development. Read the full news article here!

The Ota Initiative

By Rebecca Gailey

When I first arrived in Kayanga in January 2013 to volunteer with a local human rights group, I was immediately struck by the beauty of region and the welcoming, loving nature of its people. But as I talked with friends and community members, something became very apparent to me – Kayangans worked hard, too hard. Wives walked an hour to haul water from the river to cook for their families and husbands farmed all day only to feed their children bananas and beans meal after meal. Education was seen as a way out of subsistence farming, and yet 70 students crammed into classrooms with one teacher and zero supplies. They then listened as the teacher spent the entire class reciting from one of the few textbooks word-for-word in English, the national language of secondary education in Tanzania, and yet a language that many of the students and teachers did not fully understand.

I spoke often with students and parents about their frustrations with the education system throughout my time in Kayanga, and these frustrations erupted into nationwide protests in the spring of 2013 when the government announced that more than half of the country’s 10th grade students had failed a national test and would not be permitted to continue studying for their high school diplomas in secondary schools. In an instant, thousands of children were denied an education. Parents and educators that I was talking with all had the same questions for me, “How can we help our children succeed?” Out of these conversations was born the backbone of what would become The Ota Initiative.

The Tanzanian education system is riddled by the same problems that we fear here in the U.S. – untrained teachers, a lack of supplies, and an emphasis on standardized tests that makes memorization the most common method of instruction. Children go to school, listen to lectures in a language they do not fully understand, and leave the classroom uninspired, unprepared to pass the tests required of them, and unable to address the issues within their own lives and their community. The Ota Initiative cannot fix all of this, it can however, help create a cadre of youth who have the self-confidence and skills they need to succeed in school and positively impact their community. Guided by numerous studies that have shown the effectiveness of hands-on learning and year-round classes, I worked with Amizade Global Service-Learning, another American volunteer in Kayanga, and local teachers to create The Ota Initiative.

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During each school break, 25 elementary school students gather for three weeks to engage in arts and science projects that help develop their creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills while also reviewing key subjects from Tanzania’s national curriculum. We emphasize hands-on learning, and each session has a scientific theme that is explored through experiments, games, craft projects, stories, and theater. Students engage in public speaking to help build their self-confidence, play cooperative games to improve their teamwork skills, and read stories about world leaders to inspire leadership development. The final component of our program is our English curriculum. While English is the language of  secondary and post-secondary education in Tanzania, for most students it is a third language, and they struggle to learn it in primary school from teachers who often times do not have a complete grasp of the language. Every morning of the program, our teachers explain new vocabulary words and hold conversations in English with our students to help improve their language skills. All of the stories used throughout the program are also read to the students in English and Swahili to reinforce their use of both languages.  

Since we ran our first program in December 2013, The Ota Initiative has successfully run six school-break programs, and the results have been impressive. At the beginning and ending of each session, our teachers orally interview students to see how much they understand the program materials. We knew we had a successful program model when our very first session students’ scores increased by 60 percent. When they returned for the next program and were quizzed on the previous session, students on average still scored 40 percent higher than the original pre-test, demonstrating that our students retain most of the information they learn.

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This is not to say though that establishing and running The Ota Initiative has not been without its challenges, the greatest of which was preparing out staff to run our programs. The idea of teaching children about scientific subjects through art projects and games is still novel in the U.S., nonetheless in Tanzania. We therefore invested a lot of time into staff development purely because we needed to make sure they understood our motives and methods or the program would fail. I am proud to say that the program is now almost entirely locally run, with me just providing guidance and fundraising from the U.S. Our program is also slowly expanding and growing as we continue to add new elements. For example, in 2015 we welcomed a group of volunteers from West Virginia who ran training for our staff to help better prepare them to teach our English curriculum. This collaboration was immensely successful, and we plan to welcome more volunteers in the future.

Demand for our program is high, with more students consistently wanting to sign up than we have room for. We would love to expand but we must first figure out how to do so sustainably. We run 7 weeks of programming each year out of a local elementary school on a budget of around $3,000, which breaks down to $120 per student. In order to expand, we will need to raise enough funds to create our own space for programs, hire and train new staff, and restructure our organization. We have seen such tremendous results with such little funds and resources, so we know we can do great things, but it is just a matter of carefully exploring how to add new programs without compromising quality.  Tentative plans are in place to begin expanding next year, so it is now a matter of consolidating our plan of action and raising the requisite funds. I have an amazing team that I am working with, so I know that regardless of how we expand, we will continue offering quality arts and science programming to the students of Kayanga.

Support the Ota Foundation here.

My Volunteer Experience with Embrace Tanzania

By Nicola Da Silva 

The phone buzzed and it was my mom. “Guess what? Nic, Andrew, and Lex booked a trip to Zanzibar and invited me to join. We wish you and Daniel could join to – any chance of that??” Sometimes you get invitations to events and you weakly offer to try your best to make it happen and other times you get an invitation to something and you know that no matter what you will be going! This was one of those. I don’t know why I felt so strongly about going on this trip, but as soon as I knew about it, I couldn’t think about anything else. I started making plans the very next day and everything fell into place perfectly in the 3 weeks I had to pull it off.

I also decided to contact UniversalGiving and see if they could set me up to do some volunteer work while on vacation. Amazingly they helped me find Embrace Tanzania. I emailed them and they got me in touch with Selestin, who is based in Zanzibar and manages the volunteer effort there. 2 days before I left on the trip I emailed Selestin and told him I was coming and would love to have a look at what they  were doing in Zanzibar and see if I could help and also get them connected with Universal Giving. Selestin replied straight away and gave me the address and his telephone number. By the time I checked into the hotel, he had already spoken to them to help organize a day I could come see the different volunteer sites.

On Monday April 28th, my mom and I stepped out of our hotel and into a cab and went to Bububu, Zanzibar. Selestin met us there and showed us around the building where volunteers stay and then Selestin, his colleague Edward, my mom, the cab driver, and I went for lunch. We chatted about the different volunteering options and how my mom and I could get involved. Next stop was the orphanage where Mama Suz looks after about 30 children. The house is a school in the morning; then some of the children go home and others stay at the orphanage. Some children are orphans and others have parents in the sober houses nearby.

I could see that Mama Suz tries her best to look after all these children, but I also noticed that she was conscious about the state of the building and the lack of beds for all the children. We met the kids and then had a “business meeting” in the shade of the tree. I explained what UniversalGiving does and that I would get her connected with them and then asked what her ideas were. Wow – she has such amazing plans and knows what’s important. She said, “these children are orphans and the best thing for them is to have a stable home.” She wants to buy a house so that the children feel secure; buy a bus and have other children in other villages attend her school and pay school fees; and have the school fees as an income so she can afford to look after the children in the orphanage. I loved the idea and we started chatting about what she needed for that to happen. We figured out that the best thing would be for her raise money to buy a piece of land and have a volunteer project set up to build a house for her and the children.

The next step would be to raise money for the bus and get the new children from other villages enrolled in her school. She may need to get more volunteer teachers or hire some more teachers. I offered to do all I could to help her with this dream…and to be honest ever since I got back a month ago, all I can think about is how to help Mama Suz and the children have a home.


Inspired by this amazing story? Volunteer with Embrace Tanzania now!