By Myriah Saulnier



From left: Alphocine Mtui, Bente McAlister, and Ndeve Mutisya check out pictures from the trips some board members took to Northern Tanzania to see the progress made over the years. McAlister is a board member and calls event-goers Mtui and Mutisya her “sisters”. They are wearing African manga dresses.


Empowering women in Tanzania is the driving force behind Project TEMBO, a charitable cause that Algonquin students and staff have been working hard to support through fundraising for over five years.

Project TEMBO (Tanzania Education and Micro-Business Opportunity) is a charity run entirely by volunteers in Canada working with Tanzanians with the main goal of providing learning opportunities for girls and women in Northern Tanzania who would not otherwise have access to education.

TEMBO chairperson Arlene McKechnie says they provide both textbooks and storybooks in English and the main language Swahili, as well as educational resources and games to the children and adults of Longido District. It also raises start-up funds for a microbusiness program to lend money to women in Longido and Kimokouwa for projects such as raising goats for milk and meat, raising chickens and selling eggs in the village or producing then marketing handcrafted beadwork.

Another project they oversee is the TEMBO English Camp (TEC) for sponsored girls. This camp is held during school holidays to help the girls improve their English and build their self-confidence with the goal of improving their opportunities for success in school.

During school, TEMBO supports an informal education program (the Sara Juma program) which promotes the rights of girls and women to address important health issues that aren’t included in the school curriculum.

There are two existing community libraries so far in Longido and Orbomba villages and they are currently setting in motion an almost four-year project for a learning centre to be built in Longido.

The learning centre will accommodate the library and other Learning in Longido programs. It will also provide a venue for other community groups to learn and read. It will belong to the community, but TEMBO is providing their help by building it and supporting its early programming.

In the meantime, TEMBO will continue to work on expanding the current library’s programming and finding new ways to reach out to smaller communities in Longido District – especially Kimokouwa and Orbomba.

McKechnie goes to Tanzania to see the progress made about twice a year and meets with the board members over there who will eventually take over the initiatives.

She said TEMBO is important to her because the opportunities they provide for girls help open up their imagination and give them the ability to do things that they wouldn’t have had the chance to, such as learning English and earning an education.

“People sometimes ask me why I do this in Tanzania when there are kids here who really need support. My answer to that is that we have systems here and we have opportunities and although some of them are broken and the need here is great, if the girls over there aren’t sent to school they simply stay home,” said McKechnie.” For the girls that we support, we are their only chance.”

Board member and former professor Donna Serafini from the child and youth worker program retired from Algonquin last June and just returned from visiting Tanzania. The program has been supporting TEMBO for five years through their first-year community service project.

“They have been instrumental in providing funds for building programs, library materials and funds to allow girls to attend secondary school,” said Serafini.

Keeping up with the support provided over the years, 11 first-year child and youth worker students collaborated with TEMBO to hold a gala on March 25 that helped raise funds for the cause. Their professor Lorie Hadley, has been helping lead the students with the events and ideas to fundraise.

“Well over a thousand dollars will be raised from both events,” said Hadley. “We start out the semester saying, ‘You can make a difference’ and end every semester saying, ‘You did make a difference,’” she said. “They have a huge impact.”

The evening included a roast beef dinner buffet, a silent auction, raffle, and a comedian, a hula-hoop performer and a musician.

McKechnie also took time during the event to speak about the project to all the diners and provide a thorough view of TEMBO and its accomplishments so far.

“I love the idea of students helping students,” McKechnie said about the gala event. “The students in Tanzania are starved for opportunity and success in school is what we’re after.”

The hula-hoop performer and third-year child and youth worker student, Myron Khatheer, goes by the stage name Myron Shanti. Shanti means peace.

“I believe people in this field tend to come from the roughest paths and often pave some of the most beautiful ones for others,” he said.

The child and youth worker program is split up into seven groups as part of their community service project which has each group work to raise money for a local charity. Two of those groups were assigned to work with Project TEMBO.

Amanda Bradford, one of the child and youth workers involved with the fundraiser, said she feels good about herself knowing she had a role in helping to give kids “a safe place to study” with the new learning centre project.

“We are advocates for the children we’re working for,” Bradford said. “We’re aiming to raise more than we did for our last event.”

Their first event for TEMBO was on March 7 where they had a table full of items brought from Tanzania and made by the women from there. This fundraising table raised over $900.

Another table full of hand-crafted items was set up at the TEMBO gala and were available to purchase with 100 per cent of the proceeds going back to the women in Tanzania. The items included jewelry, bags, scarves, bowls, wooden and beaded figures of women and animals, post cards and paintings depicting their life.

Another organization that child and youth worker students are fundraising for, Breath for Life, is travelling to Longido after they finish in Bunda in early June. This will give members the ability to see for themselves what the students have contributed to over the years.

“Any time we get a chance to connect students with global issues such as girls’ education is a win for everyone,” Serafini said.

Project TEMBO holds all kinds of fundraising events such as the gala. There was a coffee house event held on March 23, and upcoming events include a fabric flea market sale at Hintonburg Community Centre on May 3 and a plant sale at Bethany Hope Centre on Woodroffe Avenue on June 7.