Buffalo Tanzania Education Project (BETP)
The Buffalo Tanzania Education Project (BTEP) was founded in 2008 as a multi-disciplinary partnership between the University at Buffalo Community and Kitenga Village in the Mara Region of Tanzania. It is a community initiative that seeks to increase opportunities for women and girls in rural Tanzania by aligning resources and expertise around four key areas of focus: education; economics; infrastructure; and health. All BTEP initiatives feature strong partnerships with community organizations; engaged research; and close communication with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA) and the broader Mara community.
Engaged in BTEP are an impressive team (approaching 100 in number) of faculty, graduate students, and staff from UB as well as community members and organizations from the greater Buffalo-Niagara region. All members have been volunteering their time and talents with the goal of enhancing opportunities for girls and women in rural Tanzania.
BTEP mainly focuses on the Rorya District in the Mara Region, particularly on the women and girls of the Kitenga Village. The project has been developing an exciting model for engagement that includes a number of projects targeting the four key areas of focus, namely, education; economics; infrastructure; and health.
Specifically, the BTEP helped to make possible the construction of an early childhood school; a secondary school for girls; the delivery of solar cookers with ongoing research project related to their impact on the lives of women and their families; and a deep well and sanitation system.
The BTEP also sent over 15 members to visit the Mara region and learn more about the challenges and opportunities, in an effort to build capacity. In addition to adults, various groups of local school children have become involved in the initiatives and have started their own fundraising efforts. Currently the BTEP is exploring the formation of a Sister City relationship between Buffalo and the Rorya district, which will hopefully pave the way for further collaboration, exchange, and funding opportunities.
Mara Huber, the director of the CEC and the co-founder of this project sums up these initiatives by contending that “Rarely in our lives are we presented with an opportunity to change the world. Today in the Kitenga Village there is no sufficient secondary school for girls; no functioning medical clinic; and few opportunities for women and girls beyond the hardships of every day life. But through our collective efforts we can make a difference.
“If you educate a girl you educate a nation”
One of the goals of UB 2020 is to cultivate an international awareness and competence among students, build programs of research, education, and service and connect across local, national and international boundaries.
Spearheaded by Professor Jim Hoot, a specialist in early childhood education, and past President of Association for Childhood Education International, in partnership with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa (IHSA), the project seeks to develop a model for preschool in rural Tanzania where 80% of the population reside. The purpose of this project is to link the greatest research passions of UB faculty with one of the world’s greatest needs—the education of girls in rural Africa.
The achievement of this project so far is very encouraging. As of March 2011 the construction of an early childhood school first building was completed. The project is currently seeking funding for creation of a state-of-the-art playgroung for this preschool. The project is also working to provide on-going professional development support for those who will be teaching in this facility. It is our hope that the doors of this preschool will open for the first preschool children in Spring of 2010.
Oct. 2013 Update: We were excited to learn that in October 2013 the first group of kindergarteners were welcomed with instruction officially commencing. The playground mentioned above was completed by a group of dedicated volunteers. Pictures and specific details to follow.
The solar cooker project is very important for the economic and social wellbeing of the people and especially women and girls of Kitenga village, Mara region. Women and girls spend large percentage of their time seeking clean water and fire-woods for the preparation of family meals. Solar cookers are thus expected to have huge implications in the socio-economic lives of rural women as well as huge impact on their health and environments.
Most families in rural Tanzania villages use charcoal or fire-wood for cooking. The smoke from the fire-wood has detrimental effects on the health of especially children and women. The solar cookers are clean energy. They are not only important for the health, social and economic wellbeing of the rural poor people in Kitenga, but also have potential to stimulate economic growth in the region.
Through the efforts of the Solar Liberty Foundation and local donors we were able to provide 12 solar cookers to the women in Kitenga village. This is a big milestone towards achieving our goals of collaborating with the women and girls in Mara region to improve their wellbeing.
The project is still on progress and so far 12 solar cookers have already been delivered. A research project is being conducted by Katie Biggie to evaluate the social and economic impact of the solar cookers to the people of Kitenga and the results will hopefully help us to collaborate more strategically with Kitenga women in this endeavor.
Please watch up this site for more update!
Girls and young women in rural Tanzania devote up to six hours a day fetching water for their families, often exposing them to dangerous predators. And the available water most frequently obtained is contaminated. The impact of contaminated water and poor sanitation is frequent, widespread and often deadly diseases like dysentery, cholera and chronic diarrhea.
Lack of proper, private sanitation facilities at schools often prevent young women from attending and thus lead to high absenteeism at schools for children and teachers.
Together with Buffalo Tanzania Education Project; in collaboration with Musoma Rotary Club and Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa; Buffalo Sunrise Club takes an initiative to work on the Water and sanitation project in Kitenga village. The deep well has been completed for use to the delight of people of Kitenga and especially women and girls.
Please watch up this page for the details and upgrade of information regarding the well project in Kitenga!
Oct. 2013 Update: The deep bore well described above is still in operation with a solar pump system added in 2013 by Buffalo Sunrise Rotary (BSR) Club and its various partners. BSR is now raising funds for a second well to service the secondary school campus along with latrines.
The BTEP core mission is education for girls in the poor rural village of Kitenga in Mara Tanzania. In collaboration with the IHSA nuns the secondary school for girls will be a role model for community collaboration and partnership for a successful girls’ secondary school in the area. The school will not only change the girls’ lives but the whole community. The sisters and BTEP believe that “if you educate a girl you educate a nation”
The initial classroom building is now completed and it ready to receive students early 2013. This is just the beginning, the real achievement will be realized when the goal of the school is reached, namely when girls attend school and the community around changes its negative perception against girls!
'Oct. 2013 Update: Construction of the Secondary School campus is still underway with significant progress made toward opening of the school. The creation of a new non-profit, The Girls Education Collaborative (GEC), has contributed greatly to the efforts. 'Please visit the Girls Education Collaborative (GEC) site to learn more http://girlsedcollaborative.org/.