Sunday, August 2, 2015

Finding Purpose in Tanzania - TAFCOM

I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I’ve written an entry…and I will backtrack and give that time the due respect it deserves…But for now, I’m sooooo excited to share what I’ve been doing the last few months. It’s hard to believe that my journey so far has taken me across 5 continents in 5.5 years.  I feel a bit like a cliché saying that I’m finding myself in Africa but here I am in Moshi, Tanzania – a small town on the foothills of Kilimanjaro doing exactly that.

I feel so immeasurably blessed to have found myself a volunteer project that truly resonates with me. TAFCOM, (website to be updated) is a fantastic organization that focuses on alleviating extreme poverty by supporting the community and people affected by HIV/AIDs. It was started by a local Tanzanian couple (Nie and Jonas), who sold their car to start this NGO! They are inspiring to say the least and I am often reminded that we can all do our little bit in whatever capacity we can. And with that in mind, I realized that the best way I could that was to help them with organizational management, systems creation as well as strengthening their sustainability strategy. It has been unbelievably rewarding and I can’t even begin to tell you how much they have already touched and impacted me. For those that don't know, one of my degrees was actually focused on Development and international studies before I did my Business Management. I am reminded how things often happen in life for a reason even though it is not immediately apparent. For the first time, I truly get to combine both of those and apply it to a sector and organizations that actually make the world a slightly better place.  

TAFCOM's story has been an amazing journey about how to solve tackle poverty. When I asked them initially about why they have so many seemingly unrelated projects their answer was this: 

"First we just wanted to see why people were so poor, so we started with  *Home Care Visits* by providing counseling and support services. It was because most of them were affected by HIV/AIDs and where shun by the community. So we started  *Community Outreach* tackling stigma, health and women's issues. But that wasn't enough cause we noticed that there were so many children that could not afford to be educated, so we started a *Nursery/School* to provide them that opportunity. But we taught to ourselves how else can we truly help? We realized that we need to provide them with skills and a chance to be independent. That's how the *Women's Tailoring Group* started for single mothers. Afterwards, we also wanted to support families in other ways by giving them the ability to start a business through  *MICROLOAN PROJECT*. " 

Uh, ya, that totally makes sense now that you explain it that way. And here we are...  
Unfortunately, the poverty here is unlike anything I have seen anywhere else before. Families living in mud huts with no running water or electricity. And yet their spirit and desire for a better life refuses to be squashed by all the insurmountable odds. I hope that that the work I'm doing can move you as much as it has me.

How it works: 

Basically $100 will help a family be able to start their own business. Because it's a community development cause, TAFCOM will provide the necessary business training along with basic book keeping to aide in their success. The goal is to enable these women and families to have the opportunity to earn money and be independent. It is a way for them to earn a sustainable livelihood. Any little bit you donate will be appreciated. Once we rehaul the website - there will be quarterly updates about the women and businesses that you support :) It'll give a window to how big a difference you can make to a person, family or child's life!!  And impressively, the 40 previous families they’ve helped – they had a 99% prepayment success rate and the businesses are still thriving!! We hope to continue it by helping more like them achieve independence!

As their newly appointed Chairperson of their Board of Directors (oh ya I’m feeling important ;) – I, as well as other amazing volunteers (Thanks Lavannia, Dani, Femke) and newly formed partnerships with other NGOs (Thanks Team FriendsTogether) have committed to help TAFCOM in whatever capacity we can. We have amazing plans for them! We're all very excited to spread their reach and positive impact on the community, increase it's capacity to help and generally just make the world better, one person, man, woman, child or family at a time. I wish I could share how truly wonderful it feels to be able to do this. I hope that you can join us in this fantastic endeavor in whatever capacity – with either your donations, time, skills or simply forwarding this fundraising link across your social group: 

Advanced THANKs everyone. Asante sana from Tanzania :)