How pupils improve in studies in Mainsprings Tanzania programmes

MWANZA: NOT necessarily living in South Africa to talk of “Ubuntu” that sometimes translated as “I am because we are” (also “I am because you are”), or “humanity towards others” (Zulu umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu).

In Xhosa, the latter term is used, but is often meant in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.

The point here is that the support we get from others greatly contribute in making a person realise his/her dream.

That support comes from the sincere love of some people, organisations or institutions simply to build a person, that latter groups individuals to form a community for the wellbeing of the society’s livelihoods.

The responsibility of a person to secure a better life starts at family level and that goes up the hierarchy to the government that in turn comes back to empower communities right into the grassroots of villages.

The whole picture can be seen when you look at the Mainsprings Tanzania, an international organisation that supports communities’ adults and children in Mwanza Region basically to improve livelihoods.

Here, it invests both economically and socially in Magu and Buchosa Councils’ activities, where it involves the residents in local agricultural practices and sees into it that children get education (especially in science subjects) at their expenses.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’ in Magu District recently, Mainsprings Tanzania Chief Operating Officer, Mr Seraphine Lyimo said that their work is meant to eliminate poverty in rural Tanzania, especially by providing children and families with various programme in four pillars. Founded by Chris Gates back in 2007 with seven girls at Bibi Mimi Girls’ Home,

Mr Lyimo said they have since then grown to two campuses; flagship campus at Kitongo in Magu District and the second one in 2017 at Kahunda in Buchosa District, both in Mwanza Region.

Mr Lyimo mentioned the pillars as home for Vulnerable Girls, Transformative Education and Restorative Agriculture especially in permaculture and Health Care Services in areas where the projects are implemented.

Apart from the programmes, he noted that they are promoting gender equality by giving girls an equal opportunity with the boys inside and outside the classrooms.

This includes enabling them to participate in a strong girls’ leadership programme through seminars and trainings within and outside the country.

According to him, other programmes provided to teenagers include engaging in community services, reproductive health awareness, self-defence skills, and debate opportunities across gender and support through various colleges.

“All these are designed to make sure our young ladies know that they have a voice and that they are just as qualified as their male classmates,” he said.

He said so far, a total of 115 vulnerable girls have taken Mainsprings Tanzania as their home, especially through their Social Welfare Department that has been very impactful to the young ladies, who are now at the campuses, universities and some have graduated and are already working!

Elaborating, he added that currently the organisation has a total of 650 students on various campuses in the region receiving transformative education from pre-primary to secondary (O-Level) so as to make them excel in national exams at different levels of education with 100 percentage pass rates.

“This would bring success because we are focusing on reinforcing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are lacking in most African curriculums”, he said.

According to Mr Lyimo, they are training their students in entrepreneurship in order to build their confidence and strong communication skills with small class sizes of 1:15 and giving them two fresh nutritious meals per day.

“Our students are talented in sports, representing well in national and international competitions especially in basketball”, he said.

He said for the past 12 years of practicing permaculture at Mainsprings, they have witnessed the farm thriving, producing food in abundance for over 650 students and 150 staff, and selling surplus for their self-sustainability have increased.

Earlier, Mainsprings Tanzania supported the government also in COVID-19 fight and currently through their “Changemaker programme” that consists of assisting 141 extremely poor families of 1,200 people living under 1 USD per day to meet their basic needs.

“They receive permaculture training at our Mainsprings’ campuses, and we support them with tools, seeds and plants to start their own farms. We are looking forward to adding another 60 families to this programme in this year 2024”, he pointed out, adding that the number is projected to grow to hundreds of families in the next few years, as some families graduate from absolute poverty within three years and their impact is already gigantic!

He clarified that, Changemaker children and families living in extreme poverty are also given free transformative education, especially to the students in pre-primary to Form Four.

This includes two healthy meals per day, free education with the compliment support of transport, stationery and uniforms.

Other services they are providing according Mr Lyimo include preferential access to markets for rural goods so as to increase family income, free healthcare at Mainsprings where they are tested, treated or referred to hospitals, psycho-social support and two geared bicycles per family.

We are impressed with the progress of these families so far with improved food security and nutrition, increased household income and general well-being .

He said in a bid to improve its programmes, much efforts have already been taken by Mainsprings in collaboration with Earth Allied Regenerative Network (EARN) to empower 55 organizations from nine countries, East and Central Africa which in turn, have trained 4,332 community members, planted 59,747 trees, on 598,935 square meters of permaculture fields installed has been crucial in spreading those farming skills to nine different countries in East and Central Africa.

“The training will empower our partner organizations with knowledge and skills to apply permaculture ethics and principles in their own contexts and share them with their communities”, he said.

By doing so, Mr Lyimo said they hope to help them improve their self-reliance, resilience and sustainability in the face of environmental and social challenges and live a better tomorrow as they provide them with practical solutions for food production, water management, energy efficiency, waste reduction and community building.

He said the organisation future plans is to continue providing transformative primary and secondary education to children from extremely poor families, to build a secondary school and dormitories for vulnerable girls in the growing second campus at Kahunda with state-of-the art classrooms that will be worth 2bn/-.

“We are planning to serve 500 families with 4,000 people living in extreme poverty through our changemaker program as we graduate hundreds from absolute poverty and after in-depth discussions and study, we will start the third campus that will cost 6bn/- ”, he said.

Giving their testimonies, some of the beneficiaries praised the organization for the good work and huge investment which was done in their areas and changed their life as well. One of the community members (CM) and beneficiaries from Kitonga Yusuph Kunena praised Mainsprings Tanzania for the support they offered to him including getting health services on time.

“I am very happy to access free better health services which I never expected to receive. Before this program started, I used to take local medicine and painkillers”, he explained.

For her part Susan Aron said training from their health team to prevent diseases have helped her to change her way of living and maintain hygiene practices.

“This has helped me live free from most diseases. Malaria used to be a visitor to my family often but nowadays we can go for months without it.” she said.

For her party, Nyambura Kapesa who is also the beneficiary of the program said “Recovering time or time taken to nurse a sick person before I got an opportunity to join the CM program at Mainsprings, was too long a waste of time but now we can access better health services; testing and treatment, recovery goes quickly and use most of the time to focus on my gardens and businesses for more produce/ profit.”

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