Arusha Project


Week two
July 13, 2008, 7:14 am
Filed under: Abroad Program

The week started off with a wonderful one day safari to Tarangire National Park. For most volunteers a 4 to 5

MAX, Shannon and Minh look out at a family of Elephants

MAX, Shannon and Minh look out at a family of Elephants

day Safari to Serengeti and/ or Ngorongoro crater can be well outside their price range or time can be an issue. Taking the volunteers on a one day safari to one of the near by parks, Tarangire or Arusha NP, is an opurtunity for them to see the natural beauty of the county and to support the country’s conservation efforts. Tarangire did not disappoint us this day with hundred of zebras and dozens of elephants through out the day. We even managed to sneak in a birthday cake during lunch for Brandon.

On Monday we visited NELITO, one of our partner organizations that receives volunteers and a microfinance business loan. Kelsey the current volunteer took pride in showing us around the area, the classroom where the kids study and the new classroom that the school should be moving into any day now. Rukia then took us to her house and showed the volunteers how they make Batik printed material to sell as an income generating activity they do through the micro loan.

On Thursday the volunteers were able to visit FARAJA and Sr. Felly who not only introduced the volunteers to FARAJA but also to three women that had received microfinance loans through the Arusha Project. It’s important for the volunteers to see where they are making an impact in people’s lives. A full quarter of their program fee goes into the Arusha Projects sustainable programs including the microfinance lending program.

Salome, Sr. Felly and Gervis in front of Salome's shop

Salome, Sr. Felly and Gervis in front of Salome's shop

One of the volunteers, Crystal, wrote down some thoughts about the afternoon:

Today we visited with Sister Felly and the women of FARAJA. We learned abut the microfinance program that FARAJA and the Arusha Project run. This program aims to empower women by targeting the poorest of the poor, who are usually affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. The women submit a business proposal and receive a loan along with counseling and business management training. Many of the women use the money to expand their shop and some use the money to start gardens to sell the vegetables on road side stands. We were able to see some of the success stories of the program with three different women. . First was Salome, she used the loan to buy a small shop where she sells various products, before the loan she walked door to door selling fabric and lived with her family in a small mud hut. Now she has moved her family to a cement home and sends all her children to school. The second women Beatrice, used the loan to purchase a structure to sell fruits and vegetables on the side of the road, she says she has been having great success, her health is improving and she to is able to send her children to school. The third women Rosie invited us into her house and told use about how she discovered she was HIV+ when pregnant with her 3rd child. She found counseling and received treatment, the child was born HIV-, but her husband died 3 months after the child was born leaving her to care for their three children alone. After joining FARAJA Rosie applied for and received a loan. With the business she has now she has been able to send her children to school, her health has improved and she has been able to make significant improvements to her home. I think for most of use Rosie’s story touched us with how remarkable it was, pulling herself out of depression and being able to support herself and her family. It felt good to see that the financial contribution we have made has reached and benefited those that need it the most. Even with the reality that not all women can receive a loan, women like Rosie and the others bring inspiration and make it all worth it.

Rosie and Sr. Felly

Rosie and Sr. Felly

As the volunteers settle into their placements it’s hard for some of them to imagine that the program is half over, but they are taking every minute they can to create memories and make a lasting impression.

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